pirke avot ethicsof - What is the difference between Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah and Schar Mitzvah Mitzvah?

The Mishnah in Avos (4:2) says: בן עזאי אומר הוי רץ למצוה קלה ובורח מן העבירה שמצוה גוררת מצוה ועברה גוררת עברה ששכר מצוה מצוה ושכר עברה עברה Ben Azai says, “Run toward a light mitzvah and flee from an aveirah, for a mitzvah leads to a mitzvah, and an aveirah leads to an aveirah; for the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the reward of an aveirah is an aveirah. The Mishnah seems awfully repetitive. Why does Ben Azai use both the phrasing of “a mitzvah leads to a mitzvah” and “the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah” (and likewise by aveiros...Read more

pirke avot ethicsof - Kehuna 'acquired' by 24?

In the (abusely so-called) 6th pereq of avot, גדולה תורה יותר מן הכהונה ומן המלכות, שהמלכות נקנית ב30 מעלות, והכהונה ב24, והתורה נקנית ב48 דברים. ואלו הן בתלמוד בשמיעת האוזן וכוליWhile one must 'acquire' Torah by the 48 things, that are a work to enhance himself; what the meaning of kehuna 'acquired' by 24 things?Kehuna is a state received by birth lineage, and not 'acquired' ?According to the Bartenura ad loc, these 24 things are the 24 gifts listed in Bava Qama 110b; in which sense these gifts make one acquire kehuna?...Read more

har sinai - Why is God not mentioned in the opening line of Pirkei Avot?

Why is God not mentioned in the opening line of Pirkei Avot? Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the Elders; the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. [Avot 1:1]This line establishes the legitimacy of the Jewish tradition. We have dozens of names for God, but Sinai not one of them. Wouldn't this have been a wonderful occasion to stress Who everything comes from? The Maharal addressed the issue: "Moses received the Torah from God" would have implied th...Read more

Pirkei Avot 5:17 - Did they mean Bet Hillel and Bet Shamai?

In Pirkei Avot 5:17, when citing an example of a controversy that is for the sake of Heaven, the Mishnah uses the terms "Hillel and Shamai". Many translations that I have seen - including Aish.com and Art Scroll as well as Rabbeinu Yonah's commentary translate this to mean Bet Hillel and Bet Shamai.Is this a correct translation? If so, why didn't the Mishnah outrightly specify this? Was there an editing error?...Read more

What are the different "versions" of Pirkei Avot?

There is the Pirkei Avot that contains 5 chapters that are part of the Mishnah in the order of Nezikin. This is the version that is typically studied on Shabbat afternoons between end of Pesach to just before Rosh Hashanna (the 6th chapter is from elsewhere.)There is another version - Avot Derav Nattan, and a 3rd version that I know of Pirkei Derav Eliezer.Are there any others? I'd also like a brief description of what the differences in these versions are and why these different versions were created, if there was some motive historically or o...Read more

Pirkei Avot 2:1 - What does "major" and "minor" mean in terms of mitzvot?

Avot 2:1 והוי זהיר במצווה קלה כבחמורה שאין אתה יודע מתן שכרן של מצוות והוי מחשב הפסד מצווה כנגד שכרה ושכר עבירה כנגד הפסדה Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitzvot. Consider the cost of a mitzvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost.(Translation via Chabad.org)What does the Mishnah mean by a "major" and "minor" mitzvah? One would probably personally evaluate this by the reward one receives for that mitzvah. However, the Mishnah says not to do t...Read more

hillel - Pirkei Avot 5:17 - Defining controversies for the sake of Heaven

Pirkei Avot 5:17, gives examples of an argument for the sake of heaven which is Shamai and Hillel. One not for the sake of Heaven is Korach and his congregants.Perhaps I am picking on the grammar, with the usage of the letter ו which I take to mean "and". There seems to be a lack of "parallelism", here.Hillel and Shamai had disputes against each other. But, Korach did not have a dispute against his congregants. The congregants joined him and they, together had a dispute against Moshe and Aharaon?Is the Mishnah implying something else here by st...Read more