Pirkei Avot: Chapter 6
כל ישראל יש להם חלק לעולם הבא, שנאמר ועמך כולם צדיקים, לעולם יירשו ארץ, נצר מטעי מעשה ידי להתפאר
“All Israel has a portion in the World to Come, for it is said, “Your people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.”
1. Rabbi Meir said, “Whoever is occupied in Torah for its own sake merits many things, and not only so, but he is worth the whole world: he is called friend, beloved: loves God, loves mankind: pleases God, pleases mankind. And it clothes him with meekness and fear, and fits him to become righteous, pious, upright and faithful: and removes him from sin, and brings him toward the side of merit. And they enjoy from him counsel, and sound wisdom, understanding, and strength, for it is said, Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength (Prov, viii. 14). And it gives him kingdom, and dominion, and faculty of judgment. And they reveal to him the secrets of Torah; and he is made, as it were, a spring that ceases not, and as a river that flows on increasing. And he becomes modest, and long-suffering, and forgiving of insult. And it magnifies him and exalts him over all things.
2. Said Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, Every day a Bat Kol goes forth from Mount Horev, and makes proclamation and says, Woe to the creatures for contempt of Torah, for whosoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called “blameworthy,” for it is said, As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion (Proverbs 11:22). And it says, “And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraven (חרות) upon the Tablets” (Exodus 32:16). Read not חרות CHARUT, engraven, but חרות CHERUT, freedom, for you will find no free man except for him who is occupied in learning of Torah; and whosoever is occupied in learning of Torah, behold he exalts himself, for it is said, ‘And from Matthanah to Nachaliel: and from Nachaliel to Bamot’ (Num 21:19).
“…he who looks into the perfect Torah of Freedom (תורת החרות), and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
3. He who learns from his companion one section, or one canon, or one verse, or one word, (or) even one letter, is bound to do him honor; for thus we find with David king of Israel, who learned not from Ahithophel but two things only, that he called him his master, his guide, and his acquaintance, for it is said, But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance (Ps. 55:14). And is there not an argument from the greater to the less, that as David king of Israel, who learned not from Ahithophel but two words only, called him his master, his guide, and his acquaintance, he who learns from his companion one section, or one canon, or one verse, or one word, or even one letter, is so many times the more bound to do him honor? And honor is nothing but Torah, for it is said, The wise shall inherit honor (Proverbs 3:35). And the perfect shall inherit good (Proverbs 23:10). And good is nothing but Torah, for it is said, For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my Torah (Proverbs 4:2).
4. This is the path of Torah: A morsel with salt shalt you eat; You shalt drink also water by measure (Ezek. 4:11); and shalt sleep upon the ground, and live a life of painfulness, and in Torah shalt you labor. If you does thus, Happy shalt you be, and it shall be well with you (Ps. 128:2): “happy shalt you be” in this world; “and it shall be well with you “in the world to come.
5. Seek not greatness for yourself, and desire not honor. Practice more than you learn. And lust not for the table of kings, for your table is greater than their table, and your crown greater than their crown, and faithful is your task-master who will pay you the wage of your work.
6. Greater is Torah than the priesthood, and than the kingdom; for the kingdom is acquired by thirty degrees, and the priesthood by four and twenty, and the Torah is acquired by forty and eight things. And these are they, by learning, by a listening ear, by ordered speech, by discernment of heart, by dread, by fear, by meekness, by cheerfulness, by pureness, by attendance upon the wise, by discussion with associates, by the argumentation of disciples, by sedateness; by Scripture, by Mishnah; by little traffic, by little intercourse, by little luxury, by little sleep, by little converse, by little merriment; by long-suffering, by a good heart, by faith in the wise, by acceptance of chastisements; he that knows his place, and that rejoices in his portion, and that makes a fence to his words, and does not claim merit to himself; he is loved, loves God, loves mankind, loves righteousness, loves uprightness, loves reproofs; and retires from honor, and puffs not up his heart with his learning, and is not forward in decision; bears the yoke with his associate, and inclines him to the scale of merit, and grounds him upon the truth, and grounds him upon peace; and settles his heart to his study; asks and answers, hears and adds thereto; he that learns in order to teach, and that learns in order to practice; that makes his master wiser, and that considers what he has heard, and that tells a thing in the name of him that said it. Lo, you hast learned that whosoever tells a thing in the name of him that said it, brings redemption to the world, for it is said, And Esther told it to the king in the name of Mordechai (Esther 2:22).
7. Great is Torah, which gives life to those who practice it in this world and in the world to come, for it is said, For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs iv. 22); and it says, It shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones (Proverbs 3:8); and it says, ‘She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retains her’ (Proverbs 3:18); and it says, For they shall be an ornament of grace unto your head, and chains about your neck (Proverbs 1:9); and it says, She shall give to your head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to you (Proverbs iv. 9); and it says, For by me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased (Proverbs 9:11); and it says, Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor (Proverbs 3:16): and it says, For length of days, and years of life, and peace, shall they add to you (Proverbs 3:2).
8. Rabbi Shimon ben Yehuda, in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Jochai, said, Comeliness, and strength, and wealth, and honor, and wisdom, and age, and hoariness, and sons, are comely to the righteous, and comely to the world, for it is said, The hoary head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs xvi. 31); and it says, The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head (Proverbs xx. 29); and it says, Sons’ sons are the crown of old men; and the glory of sons are their fathers (Proverbs xvii. 6); and it says, Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously (Is. 24:23). Rabbi Shimon ben Manasia said, These (?) seven qualities which the wise have reckoned to the righteous were all of them confirmed in Rabbi and his sons.
9. Said Rabbi Yose ben Kisma, Once I was walking by the way, and there met me a man, and be gave me “Peace”; and I returned him “Peace.” He said to me, Rabbi, from what place art you? I said to him, From a great city of wise men, and doctors, am I. He said to me, Rabbi, should it be your pleasure to dwell with us in our place, I will give you a thousand thousand dinars of gold, and goodly stones, and pearls. I said to him, If you should give me all the silver, and gold, and goodly stones, and pearls that are in the world, I would not dwell but in a place of Torah; and thus it is written in the book of Psalms, by the hands of David, king of Israel, The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver (Ps. cxix. 72). Moreover in the hour of a man’s decease not silver, nor gold, nor goodly stones, and pearls accompany the man, but Torah and good works alone, for it is said, When you go, it shall lead you; when you sleeps, it shall keep you; and when you awake, it shall talk with you (Proverbs vi. 22). “When you go, it shall lead you,” in this world: “when you sleeps, it shall keep you,” in the grave: “and when you awake, it shall talk with you,” in the world to come. And it says, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts (Hag. 2:8).
10. Five, possessions possessed the Holy One, blessed is He, in his world, and these are they: TORAH, one possession; HEAVEN AND EARTH, one possession;Abraham, one possession; ISRAEL, one possession; THE SANCTUARY, one possession. Torah, whence? because it is written, The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old (Proverbs viii. 22); Heaven and Earth, whence? because it is written, Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest (Is. lxvi. 1)? and it says, O Lord, how manifold are your works! in wisdom hast you made them all: the earth is full of your possessions (Ps. civ. 24); Abraham, whence? because it is written, And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth (Gen. xiv. 19); Israel, whence? because it is written, Till your people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which you hast possessed (Ex. xv. 16); and it says, To the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight (Ps. xvi. 3); The Sanctuary, whence? because it is written, The place, O Lord, which you hast made for you to dwell in, the sanctuary, O HaShem, which your hands have established (Ex. 15:17); and it says, And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right-hand had possessed (Ps. 78:54).
11. Whatsoever the Holy One, blessed is He, created in his world, he created not but for his glory, for it is said, Every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Is. xliii. 7); and it says, The Lord shall reign for ever and ever (Ex. xv. 18).
רצה הקדוש ברוך הוא לזכות את ישראל, לפיכך הרבה להם תורה ומצות, שנאמר: ה’ חפץ למען צדקו יגדיל תורה ויאדיר
“Rabbi Chanania ben Akashia said, “The Holy One, blessed is He, was pleased to give merit to Israel, therefore He multiplied for them Torah and precepts, for it is said, “HaShem is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, he will magnify the Torah, and make it honorable (Isaiah 42:21).