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Pray for the Government
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משנה ב רַבִּי חֲנִינָא סְגַן הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹמֵר הֱוֵי מִתְפַּלֵּל בִשְׁלוֹמָהּ שֶׁל מַלְכוּת שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא מוֹרָאָהּ אִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ חַיִּים בְּלָעוֹ Rabbi Chanina Segan Hacohanim says: pray for the well-being of the government, for without the fear of government, a man would consume his fellow alive.  The above, when divorced from its historical context, might perhaps lead […]
What’s Wrong With Being a Loner?
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ג,ד/ה:  חנניה בן חכינאי אומר, הניעור בלילה, והמהלך בדרך יחידי, והמפנה ליבו להבטלה הרי זו מתחייב בנפשו. Chanina Ben Chachinai says, one who remains awake at night, and one who walks a journey alone and one who empties his heart from thought, is responsible for his loss of soul. The obvious question may be posed: […]
Kinyan HaTorah
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רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר: כָּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה לִשְׁמָהּ, זוֹכֶה לִדְבָרִים הַרְבֵּה, וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁכָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ כְּדַאי הוּא לוֹ, נִקְרָא רֵעַ, אָהוּב, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, מְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, מְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, וּמַלְבַּשְׁתּוֹ עֲנָוָה וְיִרְאָה, וּמַכְשַׁרְתּוֹ לִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק חָסִיד יָשָׁר וְנֶאֱמָן, וּמְרַחַקְתּוֹ מִן הַחֵטְא, וּמְקָרַבְתּוֹ לִידֵי זְכוּת, וְנֶהֱנִין מִמֶּנּוּ עֵצָה וְתוּשִׁיָּה בִּינָה וּגְבוּרָה, […]
Less is More
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He (Hillel) used to say: The more flesh the more worms; the more possessions the more worry; the more women the more witchcraft; the more maidservants the more lewdness, the more manservants the more theft. The more Torah the more life, the more schooling the more wisdom; the more counsel the more understanding; the more […]
Disciples of Aaron
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Hillel said: Be of the disciples of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace, love your fellows and bring them close to the Torah. – Avos 1, 12 Aharon Hacohen’s obsession with peace has been abundantly commented upon. The mefarshim on the mishna (see Rambam and Rabeinu Yona) cite various examples and stories of how Aharon […]
The Paradox of Wealth
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Rabbi Shimon the son of Yehuda would say in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, seniority, old age and children are becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world. As is stated: etc. – Kinyan HaTorah 8 (often listed as Avos 6:8) This beraisa contains an unspoken paradox, one that seems […]
Anger Management
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Avos 4, 23: Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar used to say: Do not appease your fellow in the time of his anger, nor comfort him while his deceased one is lying before him. Do not question him in the time of his vow. Do not try to see him in the time of his disgrace. R’ […]
Where We’re Coming From, Where We’re Going
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Avos 3, 1: Akaviya ben Mahalalel says: Reflect upon three things and you will not come to sin. Know from where you came and where you are going and before whom you are destined to give account and reckoning. From where have you come? — From a putrid drop. Where are you going? — to […]
The Skull on the Water
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He as well saw a skull floating on the surface of the water and he said to it: Because you drowned others they drowned you; and those that drowned you will in the end be drowned. – Avos: 2, 6 Rashi – after commenting on this mishna – says that not all texts include it. […]
Antigonus and Hegel
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Avos 1, 3: Antigonus of Socho received the Torah from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward; and let the fear of Heaven […]