Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1:15


מסכת אבות פרק א

א,[טו] שמאי אומר, עשה תורתך קבע, אמור מעט ועשה הרבה; והוי מקביל את כל האדם, בסבר פנים יפות.

1:15. Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant countenance.

  • Make your Torah a priority: We should make our study of Torah a part of our daily or weekly routine. The implication here is not that we should study all the time, for if everyone in the world was studying full time society would cease to function. However, we are instructed to ensure that we make a regular time to study and that it should be something to which we commit. It is interesting that the word ‘aseh‘ is used here – ‘la’asot‘ means ‘to do’ – is it possible that the mishna is telling us that we mustn’t just study the Torah but we must ensure that we actually put our learning into practise as well?
  • Say little and do much: Be careful with your words. There are many ways of interpreting this mishna… Don’t be outspoken, don’t boast, don’t promise to do more than you are going to, rather speak in terms of your actions. This covers all things from our interactions with others, our commitment to tzedakah and chesed to the promises that we make to ourselves!
  • Greet every person with a cheerful face: It is so easy to become immersed in our own internal turmoil and to forget the impact that our outer demeanour has on those around us – we noted particularly our families! What a difference it makes when you smile at someone, greet them cheerfully rather than scowl or frown.

There is some fabulous commentary on this mishna which you can read here, here and here.


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