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Publisher's Foreword

Kol Yisrael - The Opening Mishna before every Chapter

Chapter One

   Chapter One - Mishna 1

Chapter One - Mishna 2

Chapter One - Mishna 3

Chapter One - Mishna 4

Chapter One - Mishna 5

Chapter One - Mishna 6

Chapter One - Mishna 7

Chapter One - Mishna 8

Chapter One - Mishna 9

Chapter One - Mishna 10

Chapter One - Mishna 11

Chapter One - Mishna 12

Chapter One - Mishna 13

Chapter One - Mishna 14

Chapter One - Mishna 15

Chapter One - Mishna 16

Chapter One - Mishna 17

Chapter One - Mishna 18

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Rabbi Chanaya ben Akashya - The Closing after each Chapter

Founders Of Chassidism & Leaders Of Chabad Lubavitch

Glossary

In The Paths of Our Fathers
Insights Into Pirkei Avos,
Adapted From The Works of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson Shlita


Chapter One - Mishna 13

by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger

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He Used To Say: "He Who Seeks Renown Loses His Reputation; He Who Does Not Increase [His Knowledge Of The Torah] Decreases It. He Who Does Not Study [The Torah] Deserves Death; And He Who Exploits The Crown [Of The Torah For His Own Ends] Shall Perish."

He Used To Say

This mishnah, in contrast to the majority of Pirkei Avos, is in Aramaic, the language used by the common folk in Talmudic times. The rationale is that it follows the previous mishnah, which teaches that one must "be of the disciples of Aharon... loving the created beings, and bringing them near to the Torah." In this mishnah, Hillel reaches out to people who do not understand Lashon HaKodesh, the holy tongue of the Mishnah.

He explains that a person involved in outreach may feel superior, and seek to be honored for his efforts. Therefore, Hillel states...

He Who Seeks Renown Loses His Reputation,

emphasizing that the opposite will happen. Such an approach will cause him to lose his reputation rather than amplify it.

Moreover, by stating this teaching in Aramaic, Hillel informs the person's students that granting their teacher the honor he seeks will hurt his growth.

Since a person's efforts toward outreach may harm his progress, it is quite possible that he will think: "Why involve myself in the first place? It is better to proceed without seeking new frontiers." To this Hillel replies...

He Who Does Not Increase... Decreases

To quote an expression of the Mitteler Rebbe: "A zibela zel fun dir veren, uber chassidus zolstu chazzaren."[44] {The expression defies translation; this is our best attempt: Even if the pride a person feels when teaching others arouses negative effects so great that they cause him to become an onion, he should continue.} For a person must constantly open new frontiers, extending the Torah's teachings so that more people will be exposed to them.

With regard to material wealth, it is often explained that a rich man's affluence is granted to him so that he can serve as a trustee, spreading charity throughout the world. This concept is even more applicable with regard to knowledge. Whatever insights a person has been granted were endowed to him for the benefit of others as much as for himself.

(Sichos Shabbos Parshas Naso, 5734, 5743)

He Who Exploits The Crown [Of The Torah]

Our Sages explain[45] that "the crown of the Torah" refers to the study of halachah, the practical application of Torah law. Thus there is an obvious connection with Hillel's exhortation to spread Torah. For as one comes in contact with people on the fringes of Jewish observance, one must teach them Torah law. Also, the new situations which one confronts require new applications of halachah.

(Sichos Shabbos Parshas Shemini, 5745)

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) See Sichos Kodesh 5740, Vol. II, p. 216ff.

  2. (Back to text) Megillah 28b, explained in Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 29.


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     Sichos In English -> Books -> Other -> In The Paths of Our Fathers

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