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.
א,ב שמעון הצדיק היה משיירי אנשי כנסת הגדולה. הוא היה אומר, על שלושה דברים העולם עומד–על התורה, ועל העבודה, ועל גמילות החסדים.
א,ג אנטיגנוס איש סוכו קיבל משמעון הצדיק. הוא היה אומר, אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב, על מנת לקבל פרס, אלא הוו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב, על מנת שלא לקבל פרס; ויהי מורא שמיים עליכם.
- “Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it Joshua. Joshua transmitted it to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise many students, and make a protective fence for the Torah.”
- “Shimon the Righteous was of the last survivors of the Men of the Great Assembly. He used to say, the world is based upon three things: on Torah, on service [of G-d], and on acts of kindness.”
- “Antignos of Socho received the transmission from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say, do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you.”
Questions for Thought and Discussion:
- Why does Pirkei Avot begin with a history lesson, outlining the transmission of Torah from Moshe to the Men of the Great Assembly?
- Why is the history of the Mesorah, the transmission of Torah, appear here in the beginning of Pirkei Avot and not somewhere else?
- Why does the Mishna say that Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and not from G-d Himself?
- Why did G-d give the Torah while the Jewish people were still in the wilderness and not wait until after they arrived in Eretz Yisrael?
- Who did the Men of the Great Assembly transmit the Torah to? How did they do that?
- What is the connection between the three things that the Men of the Great Assembly said?
- What role does this history have in how we live our lives as Jews today?
- Why was Shimon called Shimon HaTzadik, Shimon the Just?
- What does it mean that the world ‘stands’ on three pillars?
- Of the three pillars that the world stands on, which is the most important?
- Of the three pillars that the world stand on, which is the easiest/hardest to do?
- What are ways that we can practically accomplish these pillars?
- Why does Antigonus only tell us how ‘not’ to serve G-d? Why not tell us using positive language how to serve G-d?
- What is the connection between the way we should serve G-d and the fear of Heaven?
- What does it mean to serve G-d out of fear?
- What does it mean to serve G-d out of love?
- What are ways that we can serve G-d out of love and/or fear every day?