Our Sages Taught [This Chapter] In The Language Of The Mishnah; Blessed Is He Who Chose Them And Their Teaching.
Rabbi Meir Said: "Whoever Occupies Himself With [The Study Of] Torah For Its Own Sake Merits Many Things; Furthermore, He Is Worthy That The Whole World Shall Have Been Created Because Of Him. He Is Called Friend, Beloved; He Loves G-D, He Loves The Created Beings; He Brings Joy To G-D, He Brings Joy To The Created Beings. [The Torah] Garbs Him With Humility And Fear [Of G-D]; It Makes Him Fit To Be A Tzaddik, A Chassid, Upright And Faithful; It Keeps Him Far From Sin And Brings Him Near To Meritorious Deeds.
"Others Derive From Him The Benefit Of Counsel And Wisdom, Insight And Strength, As It Is Stated: 'Counsel And Wisdom Are Mine; I Am Understanding, Strength Is Mine.' [The Torah] Bestows Upon Him Royalty, Authority, And Discerning Judgment; The Secrets Of The Torah Are Revealed To Him, And He Becomes Like A Fountain Which Flows With Ever-Increasing Strength, And Like A Never-Ceasing Stream. He Becomes Modest, Patient, And Forgiving Of Insult To Himself; And [The Torah] Makes Him Great And Exalts Him Above All Things."
One might ask why the study of Pirkei Avos
was instituted in such a manner that the chapter studied before the holiday of Shavuos includes beraisos
(teachings not included in the Mishnah
) rather than mishnayos,
which are more authoritative.
It can be explained that the Beraisa reflects the manner in which the Torah descends into the world at large, showing how every new idea developed by an experienced sage was in fact granted to Moshe at Sinai. In this manner, it demonstrates the dynamic allowing for the continuation of the chain beginning when "Moshe received the Torah... and transmitted it." For it shows how the Torah can be internalized within a mortal mind, and then transmitted to subsequent generations.
(Sefer HaSichos 5749, Vol. II, p. 481ff)
The Hebrew word , translated "occupies himself," relates to the Hebrew word for businessman, .
A person's occupation with the study of Torah must resemble a businessman's preoccupation with his commercial enterprise.
Just as a businessman's attention is never totally diverted from his business, the Torah should always be the focus of our attention.
A person who devotes himself to the study of Torah for its own sake is not concerned with any of the material or spiritual benefits he might accrue. But what about a person who has not attained this level? Since it might be difficult to convince him to proceed on such a selfless path, the beraisa
teaches us that through devotion to the study of Torah a person merits many things.
These merits are merely the side benefits of Torah study; the true reward is the inner bond with G-d which it brings.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 401ff)
The "many things" which a person merits are not merely the qualities which the beraisa
The Torah is unlimited. And the "many things," the blessings and benefits it brings a person devoted to its study, are likewise boundless.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, p. 370)
As mentioned in the notes to ch. 1, mishnah
12, the term "created beings" refers to individuals who have no redeeming virtue other than the fact that G-d created them. Why is a person able to show such boundless love and reach out to these people? Because of his selfless devotion to Torah study.
A person who has personal ambitions involves himself only with people who can help him realize those ambitions. A person who desires to be loved seeks out people who will love him. A person who has no thought for himself, and studies the Torah only because it is G-d's word, can open himself to all others, even to those individuals whose only redeeming virtue is that they are G-d's creations.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 405-406)
This represents a higher level of behavior than the love mentioned previously. Even though a person may love another, the two remain distinct from each other. Happiness breaks down barriers,
and enables the two to establish a more complete bond.
Nevertheless, although joy represents a deeper bond than love, there is an advantage to love. Because love establishes a connection between two distinct entities, it enables a person to relate to a colleague within the latter's frame of reference. Because of the more complete bond established by joy, the person might feel that just as he himself does not indulge his own desires, so too, his colleague should learn to be content with little. Love, by contrast, causes one to appreciate what the other person desires and to extend oneself for him. Thus both qualities -- love and joy - are necessary to develop our relationships to the fullest.
(Sichos Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar, 5746)
[THE TORAH] GARBS HIM WITH HUMILITY... IT MAKES HIM FIT... IT KEEPS HIM FAR... AND BRINGS HIM NEAR... - The beraisa is emphasizing that Torah study alone cannot endow a person with these characteristics. On the contrary, they can be acquired only through effort and labor. Nevertheless, the study of Torah makes it far easier to attain such qualities.
This refers to the ability to advise others in worldly matters. The study of Torah will develop a person's powers of understanding to the extent that he will appreciate the proper course of action in worldly matters as well. Thus on one hand, a person who devotes himself to Torah will be above all worldly pursuits. Simultaneously, however, he will find success for himself and others even on the worldly plane.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 401ff)
- (Back to text) See the Publisher's Foreword, which explains that this chapter is an addition, appended to the original tractate of Avos which is only five chapters.
- (Back to text) Mishlei 8:14.
- (Back to text) See Megillah 19b; Yerushalmi, Pe'ah 1:4; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 252 notes 20-21.
- (Back to text) Pirkei Avos 1:1.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim-Kuntreisim, Vol. I, p. 516.
- (Back to text) See Bayis Chadash, Orach Chayim, sec. 47.
- (Back to text) See the gloss of the Midrash Shmuel.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5657, p. 223ff.