Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers"

Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers"
200 B.C.

Compilation of the Ethical Teachings and Maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period is the only nonlegal tractate of the Mishnah, recorded by Rabbi Judah HaNassi in 200 BCE, the end of 400-600 years of exegesis and teaching

Author Quotes

Hillel said, "Do not separate from the community, do not trust yourself till the day you die, do not judge your fellow until you reach his place, do not make a statement which cannot be understood which will [only] later be understood, and do not say when I have free time I will learn, lest you not have free time."

Hillel said: "A boor cannot be sin-fearing, an ignoramus cannot be pious, a bashful one cannot learn, a short-tempered person cannot teach, nor does anyone who does much business grow wise. In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man."

One who advances his name, destroys his name. One who does not increase, diminishes. One who does not learn is deserving of death. And one who make personal use of the crown of Torah shall perish.

Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind.

Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitzvot. Consider the cost of a mitzvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost.

Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.

Simon the Just used to say, “Upon three things the world stands: On Torah, on (Divine) Service, and on Deeds of Loving-kindness.”

Whenever love depends upon something and it passes, then the love passes away too. But if love does not depend upon some ulterior interest then the love will never pass away.

Elisha ben Avuyah used to say: “He who learns as a child, what is he like? He is like ink written on new paper. He who learns as an old man, what is he like? He is like ink written on blotting paper.”

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar used to say: “Do not appease your fellow in the time of his anger, nor comfort him while his dead lie before him. Do not question him in the time of his vow. Do not try to see him in the time of his disgrace.”

Rabbi Yanni would say: “Better is one hour of penitence and good deeds in this world than all the life of the world to come. Better is one hour of spiritual repose in the world to come than all the life of this world.”

Rabbi Yannai used to say: “It is not in our power to explain the well-being of the wicked or the sorrows of the righteous.”

Rabbi Nehorai said: “Go as a voluntary exile to a place of Torah, and do not say that the Torah will follow you, for it is your companions who will make it your permanent possession. Do not rely upon your own understanding.”

Rabbi Shimon used to say: “There are three crowns--the crown of the Torah, the crown of the priesthood, and the crown of kingship, but the crown of a good name surpasses them all.”

Rabbi Yochanan said: “Every assembly that is for a hallowed purpose shall in the end be established. But any assembly that is not for a hallowed purpose shall not ultimately be established.”

Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob used to say: “He who performs one commandment acquires for himself one advocate, while he who commits one transgression has gotten for himself one accuser. Penitence and good deeds are as a shield against punishment.”

Rabbi Yishmael used to say: “He who learns in order to teach will be enabled both to learn and to teach. But he who learns in order to practice will be enabled to learn, to teach, to observe, and to practice.”

Rabbi Akiva said: “All is foreseen, but freedom of choice is given. The world is judged in goodness, yet all is proportioned to one's work.”

Rabbi Elazar of Modiim said: “If a man profanes things which are sacred, and offends the holidays and puts his fellow to shame publicly, and makes void the covenant of Abraham our father, and teaches meanings in the Torah which are not according to Halachah, even though he has a knowledge of the Torah and good works, he has no share in the world to come.”

Rabbi Chanina, an assistant of the high priest said: “Pray for the welfare of the government, since but for fear of it men would swallow each other alive.”

Rabbi Elazar said: “Be eager to study the Torah. Know what to respond to a heretic. Know before whom you toil and who is your employer who shall pay you the reward of your labor.”

Rabbi Yosi said: “Let the property of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own. Prepare yourself for the study of the Torah, for the knowledge of it is not yours by inheritance. Let all your deeds be done for the sake of Heaven.”

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai used to say: “If you have learnt much Torah do not claim for yourself moral excellence, for to this end you were created.”

Hillel said: “Do not separate yourself from the community; and do not trust in yourself until the day of your death. Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place. Do not say something that cannot be understood but will be understood in the end. Say not: When I have time I will study because you may never have the time.”

Shimon said: “All my days have I grown up among the wise and I have not found anything better for a man than silence. Studying Torah is not the most important thing rather fulfilling it. Whoever multiplies words causes sin.”

Rabban Gamaliel said: “Provide yourself with a teacher and remove yourself from doubt, and do not accustom yourself to give tithes by estimation.”

Shammai said: “Make your study of the Torah a fixed habit. Say little and do much, and receive all men with a cheerful face.”

Author Picture
First Name
Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers"
Birth Date
200 B.C.
Bio

Compilation of the Ethical Teachings and Maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period is the only nonlegal tractate of the Mishnah, recorded by Rabbi Judah HaNassi in 200 BCE, the end of 400-600 years of exegesis and teaching