Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1:1

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מסכת אבות פרק א

א,א  משה קיבל תורה מסיניי, ומסרה ליהושוע, ויהושוע לזקנים, וזקנים לנביאים, ונביאים מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה.  והן אמרו שלושה דברים:  היו מתונים בדין, והעמידו תלמידים הרבה, ועשו סייג לתורה.

1. Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and then he transmitted it to Yehoshua. Yehoshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgment. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.

The first line of the mishna presents a brief synopsis of how the Torah was passed down from Moshe at Sinai to the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly, 120 members – interestingly, modern day knesset also has 120 members).

One of the questions we asked was: Why is this information found here? Does it fit with the beginning of Pirkei Avot? Why is it not in Brachot?

After much discussion we concluded that by linking the commentary about behaviour, morals and ethics to the events at Har Sinai and the giving of the Torah, the lessons we learn in Pirkei Avot gain validity. The implication is that these teachings come from a long, unbroken chain, that they are handed down from Hashem and are not just the teachings of an individuals.

One response »

  1. Interestingly, another interpretation that I read indicated that much of Halacha describes the right way of doing something according to Jewish law. What distinguishes Pirkei Avot is that in terms of behaviour, no two people are the same. There is no one way of behaving. There are rather variations on a theme. It is this that makes Pirkei Avot different to the balance of the Mishna.

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