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Stopping to Admire a Tree
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Avot 3:8 If a person is learning while traveling and stops and says “how beautiful this tree is,” he has endangered his life. Why is the consequence so severe? Abarbanel: When a person is learning he is connected to our life source. The person’s stopping his learning is thus detaching himself from the life source. […]
Whose Money is It?
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Avot 3:8 תן לו משלו שאתה ושלך שלו R. Eliezer ish Bartuta gave everything he had to tzedakah (which is in line with his statement). How much can one give to tzedakah? Abarbanel: why is this mishna quoted here? Once we see in the previous mishna how important learning Torah is, this mishna adds that […]
Ten, Five, Three, and Two Who Learn Torah Together
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Avot 3:7 If ten, five, three, two or even one are studying Torah, the Shechina rests among them. Ten represents a community According to the Abravanel, Rebbi Chalafta comes to argue on the previous mishnayot – how to keep oneself from sinning. He argues on the Mishna that says that not only does one get […]
Accepting a Yoke Upon Oneself
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Avot 3:5-6 In this world one must accept a yoke upon oneself either the yoke of Torah or Derech Eretz. Why? Because our reward in the World to Come is greater when it is earned rather than given as a gift. Delivered at the OU Israel Center, December 31st, 2018, 23 Tevet 5779  
Doing God’s Commandments or Doing God’s Will
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Avot 3:5 According to the Seforno, there is a difference between one who says “I need to earn money and Torah will be the means through which I earn money because I like learning” and one who says “I want to dedicate my life to learning Torah but I can’t survive unless I accept money” […]
Learning Torah and Being Supported by Others (Part 2)
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Avot 3:5 When one prepares for a mitzvah he is credited as if he engaged in the mitzvah itself. The Pele Yoetz discusses how to make earning a living into a spiritual pursuit. The difference between doing the will Hashem and observing mitzvot. Delivered at the OU Israel Center, December 17th, 2018, 9 Tevet 5779  
Learning Torah and Being Supported by Others (Part 1)
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Avot 3:5 The Rambam says that one who supports himself with Torah loses his share in the World to Come. Yet in another place the Rambam writes that one who dedicate his life to learning and is supported by others is considered holy of holies! How do we reconcile this seeming contradiction? Answers based on […]
The Yoke of Torah, Government, and Derech Eretz (Part 2)
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Avot 3:5 What does עול תורה (literally the yoke of Torah) mean? When we accept upon ourselves not just to follow the Torah when it’s easy but even when it’s inconvenient or even difficult. We recognize that in the end we are given the mitzvot for our good (“לטוב לנו כל הימים” – Devarim 6:24) […]
The Yoke of Torah, Government, and Derech Eretz
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Avot 3:5 One who accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah, other burdens such as government and earning a living are removed from him. Abarbanel: Continuing the theme of the previous mishnayot, R’ Nechunya ben HaKana says that if one accepts upon himself the Yoke of Torah he/she has no need for fear of government […]