Pirkei Avot

+ 241 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. Pirkei Avot 1:1


+ 196 Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness. Pirkei Avot 1:2


+ 203 Yossei the son of Yoezer of Tzreidah would say: Let your home be a meeting place for the wise; dust yourself in the soil of their feet, and drink thirstily of their words. Pirkei Avot 1:4


+ 174 Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit. Pirkei Avot 1:6


+ 199 He (Hillel) would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when? Pirkei Avot 1:14


+ 210 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. Pirkei Avot 1:15


+ 183 Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel would say: By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. Pirkei Avot 1:18


+ 217 Rabbi Judah HaNassi would say: 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. Pirkei Avot 2:1


+ 171 In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man. Pirkei Avot 2:5


+ 211 He (Hillel) would also say: One who increases flesh, increases worms; one who increases possessions, increases worry; one who increases wives, increases witchcraft; one who increases maidservants, increases promiscuity; one who increases man-servants, increases thievery; one who increases Torah, increases life; one who increases study, increases wisdom; one who increases counsel, increases understanding; one who increases charity, increases peace. One who acquires a good name, acquired it for himself; one who acquires the words of Torah, has acquired life in the World to Come. Pirkei Avot 2:7


+ 209 Rabban Yochanan the son of Zakkai received the tradition from Hillel and Shammai. He would say: If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself - it is for this that you have been formed. Pirkei Avot 2:8


+ 218 Rabbi Yochanan said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born out of one's actions. Said Rabbi Elazar: A good heart. Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours. He said to them: Go and see which is the worst trait, the one that a person should most distance himself from. Said Rabbi Eliezer: An evil eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: An evil friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: An evil neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To borrow and not to repay; for one who borrows from man is as one who borrows from the Almighty, as is stated, "The wicked man borrows and does not repay; but the righteous one is benevolent and gives" (Psalms 37:21). Said Rabbi Elazar: An evil heart. Said He to them: I prefer the word of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours. Pirkei Avot 2:10


+ 239 Rabbi Eliezer would say: The honor of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easy to anger. Repent one day before your death. Asked his disciples: Does a man know on which day he will die? Said he to them: So being the case, he should repent today, for perhaps tomorrow he will die; hence, all his days are passed in a state of repentance. Indeed, so said Solomon in his wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:8): 'At all times, your clothes should be white, and oil should not lack from your head'" (Talmud, Shabbat 153a). Pirkei Avot 2:10


+ 194 Rabbi Joshua would say: An evil eye, the evil inclination, and the hatred of one's fellows, drive a person from the world Pirkei Avot 2:11


+ 236 Rabbi Tarfon would say: The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing. He would also say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it. If you have learned much Torah, you will be greatly rewarded, and your employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward of your labors. And know, that the reward of the righteous is in the World to Come. Pirkei Avot 2:15-16


+ 200 Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): "From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation." Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations. As is stated (Proverbs 16:32), "Better one who is slow to anger than one with might, one who rules his spirit than the captor of a city." Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. As is stated (Psalms 128:2): "If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you"; "fortunate are you" in this world, "and good is to you" in the World to Come. Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows. As is stated (I Samuel 2:30): "For to those who honor me, I accord honor; those who scorn me shall be demeaned." Pirkei Avot 4:1


+ 210 Be a tail to lions rather than a head to jackals. Pirkei Avot 4:20


+ 247 There are four types of people: One who says, "What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine" is a boor. One who says "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours" - this is a median characteristic; others say that this is the character of Sodom. One who says, "What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours" is a chassid [pious person]. And one who says "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine" is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:10


+ 221 There are four types of temperaments. One who is easily angered and easily appeased--his virtue cancels his flaw. One whom it is difficult to anger and difficult to appease--his flaw cancels his virtue. One whom it is difficult to anger and is easily appeased, is a chassid. One who is easily angered and is difficult to appease, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:11


+ 215 There are four types of student. One who is quick to understand and quick to forget - his flaw cancels his virtue. One who is slow to understand and slow to forget - his virtue cancels his flaw. One who is quick to understand and slow to forget - his is a good portion. One who is slow to understand and quick to forget - his is a bad portion. Pirkei Avot 5:12


+ 196 There are four types of contributors to charity. One who wants to give but does not want others to give--is begrudging of others. One who wants that others should give but does not want to give--begrudges himself. One who wants that he as well as others should give, is a chassid. One who want neither himself nor others to give, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:13


+ 209 There are four types among those who attend the study hall. One who goes but does nothing - has gained the rewards of going. One who does study but does not go to the study hall - has gained the rewards of doing. One who goes and does, is a chassid. One who neither goes nor does, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:14


+ 238 There are four types among those who sit before the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer and the sieve. The sponge absorbs all. The funnel takes in at one end and lets it out the other. The strainer rejects the wine and retains the sediment. The sieve rejects the coarse flour and retains the fine flour. Pirkei Avot 5:15


+ 229 Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua 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. Pirkei Avot 1:1


+ 205 Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness. Pirkei Avot 1:2


+ 239 Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shimon the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as slaves, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as slaves who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you. Pirkei Avot 1:3


+ 190 Yossei the son of Yoezer of Tzreidah, and Yossei the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem, received the tradition from them. Yossei the son of Yoezer of Tzreidah would say: Let your home be a meeting place for the wise; dust yourself in the soil of their feet, and drink thirstily of their words. Pirkei Avot 1:4


+ 253 Yossei the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem would say: Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household. And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said even regarding one's own wife--how much more so regarding the wife of another. Hence, the sages said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits purgatory. Pirkei Avot 1:5


+ 204 Joshua the son of Perachia and Nitai the Arbelite received from them. Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit. Pirkei Avot 1:6


+ 211 Nitai the Arbelite would say: Distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not cleave to a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in retribution. Pirkei Avot 1:7


+ 231 Judah the son of Tabbai and Shimon the son of Shotach received from them. Judah the son of Tabbai would say: When sitting in judgement, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty; and when they leave your courtroom, having accepted the judgement, regard them as equally righteous. Pirkei Avot 1:8


+ 208 Shimon the son of Shotach would say: Increasingly cross-examine the witnesses. Be careful with your words, lest they learn from them how to lie. Pirkei Avot 1:9


+ 223 Shmaayah and Avtalyon received from them. Shmaayah would say: Love work, loath mastery over others, and avoid intimacy with the government. Pirkei Avot 1:10


+ 209 Avtalyon would say: Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes. The disciples who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and be destroyed, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated. Pirkei Avot 1:11


+ 241 Hillel and Shammai received from them. Hillel would say: Be of the disciples of Aaron--a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah. Pirkei Avot 1:12


+ 222 He would also say: 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. Pirkei Avot 1:13


+ 218 He would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Pirkei Avot 1:14


+ 215 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. Pirkei Avot 1:15


+ 202 Rabban Gamliel would say: Assume for yourself a master; stay away from doubt; and do not accustom yourself to tithe by estimation. Pirkei Avot 1:16


+ 206 His son, Shimon, would say: All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on sin. Pirkei Avot 1:17


+ 231 Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel would say: By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. As is stated (Zachariah 8:16), "Truth, and a judgement of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.'' Pirkei Avot 1:18


+ 215 Rabbi Judah HaNassi would say: 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. Pirkei Avot 2:1


+ 236 Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Judah HaNassi would say: Beautiful is the study of Torah with the way of the world, for the toil of them both causes sin to be forgotten. Ultimately, all Torah study that is not accompanied with work is destined to cease and to cause sin. Those who work for the community should do so for the sake of Heaven; for then merit of their ancestors shall aid them, and their righteousness shall endure forever. And you, [says G-d,] I shall credit you with great reward as if you have achieved it. Pirkei Avot 2:2


+ 216 Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of his distress. Pirkei Avot 2:3


+ 216 He would also say: Make that His will should be your will, so that He should make your will to be as His will. Nullify your will before His will, so that He should nullify the will of others before your will. Hillel would say: Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not believe in yourself until the day you die. Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place. Do not say something that is not readily understood in the belief that it will ultimately be understood [or: Do not say something that ought not to be heard even in the strictest confidence, for ultimately it will be heard]. And do not say "When I free myself of my concerns, I will study,'' for perhaps you will never free yourself. Pirkei Avot 2:4


+ 195 He would also say: 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. Pirkei Avot 2:5


+ 195 He also saw a skull floating upon the water. Said he to it: Because you drowned others, you were drowned; and those who drowned you, will themselves be drowned. Pirkei Avot 2:6


+ 221 He would also say: One who increases flesh, increases worms; one who increases possessions, increases worry; one who increases wives, increases witchcraft; one who increases maidservants, increases promiscuity; one who increases man-servants, increases thievery; one who increases Torah, increases life; one who increases study, increases wisdom; one who increases counsel, increases understanding; one who increases charity, increases peace. One who acquires a good name, acquired it for himself; one who acquires the words of Torah, has acquired life in the World to Come. Pirkei Avot 2:7


+ 198 Rabban Yochanan the son of Zakkai received the tradition from Hillel and Shammai. He would say: If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself - it is for this that you have been formed. Pirkei Avot 2:8


+ 235 Rabban Yochanan the son of Zakkai had five disciples: Rabbi Eliezer the son of Hurkenus, Rabbi Joshua the son of Chananya, Rabbi Yossei the Kohen, Rabbi Shimon the son of Nethanel, and Rabbi Elazar the son of Arach. He would recount their praises: Rabbi Eliezer the son of Hurkenus is a cemented cistern that loses not a drop; Rabbi Joshua the son of Chananya---fortunate is she who gave birth to him; Rabbi Yossei the Kohen---a chassid (pious one); Rabbi Shimon the son of Nethanel fears sin; Rabbi Elazar ben Arach is as an ever-increasing wellspring. Rabbi Yochanan used to say: If all the sages of Israel were to be in one cup of a balance-scale, and Eliezer the son of Hurkenus were in the other, he would outweigh them all. Abba Shaul said in his name: If all the sages of Israel were to be in one cup of a balance-scale, Eliezer the son of Hurkenus included, and Elazar the son of Arach were in the other, he would outweigh them all. Pirkei Avot 2:9


+ 217 Rabbi Yochanan said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born [out of ones actions]. Said Rabbi Elazar: A good heart. Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours. He said to them: Go and see which is the worst trait, the one that a person should most distance himself from. Said Rabbi Eliezer: An evil eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: An evil friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: An evil neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To borrow and not to repay; for one who borrows from man is as one who borrows from the Almighty, as is stated, ``The wicked man borrows and does not repay; but the righteous one is benevolent and gives'' (Psalms 37:21). Said Rabbi Elazar: An evil heart. Said He to them: I prefer the word of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours. They would each say three things: Rabbi Eliezer would say: The honor of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easy to anger. Repent one day before your death.** Warm yourself by the fire of the sages, but be beware lest you be burned by its embers; for their bite is the bite of a fox, their sting is the sting of a scorpion, their hiss is the hiss a serpent, and all their words are like fiery coals. Pirkei Avot 2:10


+ 175 Rabbi Joshua would say: An evil eye, the evil inclination, and the hatred of one's fellows, drive a person from the world. Pirkei Avot 2:11


+ 223 Rabbi Yossei would say: The property of your fellow should be as precious to you as your own. Perfect yourself for the study of Torah, for it is not an inheritance to you. And all your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven. Pirkei Avot 2:12


+ 201 Rabbi Shimon would say: Be meticulous with the reading of the Shma and with prayer. When you pray, do not make your prayers routine, but [an entreaty of] mercy and a supplication before the Almighty, as is stated ``For He is benevolent and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and relenting of the evil decree'' (Joel 2:13). And do not be wicked in your own eyes. Pirkei Avot 2:13


+ 213 Rabbi Elazar would say: Be diligent in the study of Torah. Know what to answer a heretic. And know before whom you toil, and who is your employer who will repay you the reward of your labors. Pirkei Avot 2:14


+ 185 Rabbi Tarfon would say: The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing. Pirkei Avot 2:15


+ 226 He would also say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it. If you have learned much Torah, you will be greatly rewarded, and your employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward of your labors. And know, that the reward of the righteous is in the World to Come. Pirkei Avot 2:16


+ 186 Akavia the son of Mahalalel would say: Reflect upon three things and you will not come to the hands of transgression. Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting. From where you came - from a putrid drop; where you are going - to a place of dust, maggots and worms; and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting - before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. Pirkei Avot 3:1


+ 215 Rabbi Chanina, deputy to the kohanim, would say: Pray for the integrity of the government; for were it not for the fear of its authority, a man would swallow his neighbor alive. Rabbi Chanina son of Tradyon would say: Two who sit and no words of Torah pass between them, this is a session of scorners, as is stated, "And in a session of scorners he did not sit" (Psalms 1:1). But two who sit and exchange words of Torah, the Divine Presence rests amongst them, as is stated, "Then the G-d-fearing conversed with one another, and G-d listened and heard; and it was inscribed before Him in a book of remembrance for those who fear G-d and give thought to His name" (Malachi 3:16). From this, I know only concerning two individuals; how do I know that even a single individual who sits and occupies himself with the Torah, G-d designates reward for him? From the verse, "He sits alone in meditative stillness; indeed, he receives [reward] for it" (Lamentations 3:28). Pirkei Avot 3:2


+ 202 Rabbi Shimon would say: Three who eat at one table and do not speak words of Torah, it is as if they have eaten of idolatrous sacrifices; as is stated, "Indeed, all tables are filled with vomit and filth, devoid of the Omnipresent" (Isaiah 28:8). But three who eat at one table and speak words of Torah, it is as if they have eaten at G-d's table, as is stated, "And he said to me: This is the table that is before G-d" (Ezekiel 41:22). Pirkei Avot 3:3


+ 199 Rabbi Chanina the son of Chachina'i would say: One who stays awake at night, or travels alone on the road, and turns his heart to idleness, has forfeited his life. Pirkei Avot 3:4


+ 192 Rabbi Nechunia the son of Hakanah would say: One who accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah is exempted from the yoke of government duties and the yoke of worldly cares; but one who casts off the yoke of Torah is saddled with the yoke of government duties and the yoke of worldly cares. Pirkei Avot 3:5


+ 196 Rabbi Chalafta the son of Dosa of the village of Chanania would say: Ten who sit together and occupy themselves with Torah, the Divine Presence rests amongst them, as is stated: "The Almighty stands in the congregation of G-d" (Psalms 82:1). And from where do we know that such is also the case with five? From the verse, "He established his band on earth" (Amos 9:6). And three? From the verse, "He renders judgement in the midst of the tribunal" (Psalms 82:1). And two? From the verse, "Then the G-d-fearing conversed with one another, and G-d listened and heard" (Malachi 3:16). And from where do we know that such is the case even with a single individual? From the verse, "Every place where I have My name mentioned, I shall come to you and bless you" (Exodus 20:21). Pirkei Avot 3:6


+ 203 Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa would say: Give Him what is His, for you, and whatever is yours, are His. As David says: "For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You" (I Chronicles 29:14). Rabbi Yaakov would say: One who walks along a road and studies, and interrupts his studying to say, "How beautiful is this tree!", "How beautiful is this ploughed field!"---the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life. Pirkei Avot 3:7


+ 243 Rabbi Dusta'i the son of Rabbi Yannai would say in the name of Rabbi Meir: Anyone who forgets even a single word of this learning, the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life. As is stated, "Just be careful, and verily guard your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen" (Deuteronomy 4:9). One might think that this applies also to one who has forgotten because his studies proved too difficult for him; but the verse goes on to tell us "and lest they be removed from your heart, throughout the days of your life." Hence, one does not forfeit his life unless he deliberately removes them from his heart. Pirkei Avot 3:8


+ 177 Rabbi Chanina the son of Dosa would say: One whose fear of sin takes precedence to his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom takes precedence to his fear of sin, his wisdom does not endure. Pirkei Avot 3:9


+ 186 He would also say: One whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom does not endure. He would also say: One who is pleasing to his fellow men, is pleasing to G-d. But one who is not pleasing to his fellow men, is not pleasing to G-d. Rabbi Dosa the son of Hurkinas would say: Morning sleep, noontime wine, children's talk and sitting at the meeting places of the ignoramus, drive a person from the world. Pirkei Avot 3:10


+ 219 Rabbi Elazar of Modi'in would say: One who profanes the kodoshim ("holy things" consecrated for the service of G-d in the Holy Temple), degrades the Festivals, humiliates his friend in public, abrogates the covenant of our father Abraham (i.e., circumcision), or who interprets the Torah contrary to its true intent---although he may possess Torah knowledge and good deeds, he has no share in the World to Come. Pirkei Avot 3:11


+ 194 Rabbi Ishmael would say: Be yielding to a leader, affable to the black-haired, and receive every man with joy. Pirkei Avot 3:12


+ 196 Rabbi Akiva would say: Jesting and frivolity accustom a person to promiscuity. Tradition is a safety fence to Torah, tithing a safety fence to wealth, vows a safety fence for abstinence; a safety fence for wisdom is silence. Pirkei Avot 3:13


+ 267 He would also say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to him that he was created in the image, as it is says, "For in the image of G-d, He made man" (Genesis 9:6). Beloved are Israel, for they are called children of G-d; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they are called children of G-d, as it is stated: "You are children of the L-rd your G-d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). Beloved are Israel, for they were given a precious article; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they were given a precious article, as it is stated: "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it" (Proverbs 4:2). Pirkei Avot 3:14


+ 203 All is foreseen, and freedom of choice is granted. The world is judged with goodness, but in accordance with the amount of man's positive deeds. Pirkei Avot 3:15


+ 256 He would also say: Everything is placed in pledge, and a net is spread over all the living. The store is open, the storekeeper extends credit, the account-book lies open, the hand writes, and all who wish to borrow may come and borrow. The collection-officers make their rounds every day and exact payment from man, with his knowledge and without his knowledge. Their case is well founded, the judgement is a judgement of truth, and ultimately, all is prepared for the feast. Pirkei Avot 3:16


+ 234 Rabbi Eliezer the son of Azariah would say: If there is no Torah, there is no common decency; if there is no common decency, there is no Torah. If there is no wisdom, there is no fear of God; if there is no fear of God, there is no wisdom. If there is no applied knowledge, there is no analytical knowledge; if there is no analytical knowledge, there is no applied knowledge. If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour. He would also say: One whose wisdom is greater than his deeds, what is he comparable to? To a tree with many branches and few roots; comes a storm and uproots it, and turns it on its face. As is stated, "He shall be as a lone tree in a wasteland, and shall not see when good comes; he shall dwell parched in the desert, a salt land, uninhabited" (Jeremiah 17:6). But one whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, to what is he compared? To a tree with many roots and few branches, whom all the storms in the world cannot budge from its place. As is stated: "He shall be as a tree planted upon water, who spreads his roots by the river; who fears not when comes heat, whose leaf is ever lush; who worries not in a year of drought, and ceases not to yield fruit" (ibid., v. 8). Pirkei Avot 3:18


+ 211 Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): "From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation." Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations. As is stated (Proverbs 16:32), "Better one who is slow to anger than one with might, one who rules his spirit than the captor of a city." Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. As is stated (Psalms 128:2): "If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you"; "fortunate are you" in this world, "and good is to you" in the World to Come. Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows. As is stated (I Samuel 2:30): "For to those who honor me, I accord honor; those who scorn me shall be demeaned." Pirkei Avot 4:1


+ 182 Ben Azzai would say: Run to pursue a minor mitzvah, and flee from a transgression. For a mitzvah brings another mitzvah, and a transgression brings another transgression. For the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the reward of transgression is transgression. Pirkei Avot 4:2


+ 195 He would also say: Do not scorn any man, and do not discount any thing. For there is no man who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place. Pirkei Avot 4:3


+ 185 Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh would say: Be very, very humble, for the hope of mortal man is worms. Rabbi Yochanan the son of Berokah would say: Whoever desecrates the Divine Name covertly, is punished in public. Regarding the desecration of the Name, the malicious and the merely negligent are one and the same. Pirkei Avot 4:4


+ 201 Rabbi Ishmael the son of Rabbi Yossei would say: One who learns Torah in order to teach, is given the opportunity to learn and teach. One who learns in order to do, is given the opportunity to learn, teach, observe and do. Rabbi Tzaddok would say: Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not act as a counselor-at-law (when serving as a judge). Do not make the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with, or a spade with which to dig. So would Hillel say: one who make personal use of the crown of Torah shall perish. Hence, one who benefits himself from the words of Torah, removes his life from the world. Pirkei Avot 4:5


+ 188 Rabbi Yossei would say: Whoever honors the Torah, is himself honored by the people; whoever degrades the Torah, is himself degraded by the people. Pirkei Avot 4:6


+ 203 His son, Rabbi Ishmael would say: One who refrains from serving as a judge avoids hatred, thievery and false oaths. One who frivolously hands down rulings is a fool, wicked and arrogant. Pirkei Avot 4:7


+ 219 He would also say: Do not judge on your own, for there is none qualified to judge alone, only the One. And do not say, You must accept my view, for this is their the majority's right, not yours. Pirkei Avot 4:8


+ 188 Rabbi Jonathan would say: Whoever fulfills the Torah in poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth; and whoever neglects the Torah in wealth, will ultimately neglect it in poverty. Pirkei Avot 4:9


+ 192 Rabbi Meir would say: Engage minimally in business, and occupy yourself with Torah. Be humble before every man. If you neglect the Torah, there will be many more causes for neglect before you; if you toil much in Torah, there is much reward to give to you. Pirkei Avot 4:10


+ 214 Rabbi Eliezer the son of Yaakov would say: He who fulfills one mitzvah, acquires for himself one angel-advocate; he who commits one transgression, acquires against himself one angel-accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against retribution. Rabbi Yochanan the Sandal-Maker would say: Every gathering that is for the sake of Heaven, will endure; that is not for the sake of Heaven, will not endure. Pirkei Avot 4:11


+ 207 Rabbi Eliezer the son of Shamua would say: The dignity of your student should be as precious to you as your own; the dignity of your colleague, as your awe of your master; and your awe of your master as your awe of Heaven. Pirkei Avot 4:12


+ 211 Rabbi Judah would say: Be careful with your studies, for an error of learning is tantamount to a willful transgression. Rabbi Shimon would say: There are three crowns--the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of sovereignty--but the crown of good name surmounts them all. Pirkei Avot 4:13


+ 199 Rabbi Nehora'i would say: Exile yourself to a place of Torah; do not say that it will come after you, that your colleagues will help you retain it. Rely not on your own understanding. Pirkei Avot 4:14


+ 162 Rabbi Yannai would say: We have no comprehension of the tranquility of the wicked, nor of the suffering of the righteous. Rabbi Matya the son of Charash would say: Be first to greet every man. Be a tail to lions, rather than a head to foxes. Pirkei Avot 4:15


+ 218 Rabbi Yaakov would say: This world is comparable to the antechamber before the World to Come. Prepare yourself in the antechamber, so that you may enter the banquet hall. Pirkei Avot 4:16


+ 195 He would also say: A single moment of repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than all of the World to Come. And a single moment of bliss in the World to Come is greater than all of the present world. Pirkei Avot 4:17


+ 211 Rabbi Shimon the son of Elazar would say: Do not appease your friend at the height of his anger; do not comfort him while his dead still lies before him; do not ask him about his vow the moment he makes it; and do not endeavor to see him at the time of his degradation. Pirkei Avot 4:18


+ 195 Samuel the Small would say: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice; when he stumbles, let your heart not be gladdened. Lest G-d see, and it will displeasing in His eyes, and He will turn His wrath from him [to you]" (Proverbs 24:17-18). Pirkei Avot 4:19


+ 198 Elisha the son of Avuyah would say: One who learns Torah in his childhood, what is this comparable to? To ink inscribed on fresh paper. One who learns Torah in his old age, what is this comparable to? To ink inscribed on erased paper. Rabbi Yossei the son of Judah of Kfar HaBavli would say: One who learns Torah from youngsters, whom is he comparable to? To one who eats unripe grapes and drinks [unfermented] wine from the press. One who learns Torah from the old, whom is he comparable to? To one who eats ripened grapes and drinks aged wine. Said Rabbi Meir: Look not at the vessel, but at what it contains. There are new vessels that are filled with old wine, and old vessels that do not even contain new wine. Pirkei Avot 4:20


+ 209 Rabbi Elazar HaKapor would say: Envy, lust and honor drive a man from the world. Pirkei Avot 4:21


+ 231 He would also say: Those who are born will die, and the dead will live. The living will be judged, to learn, to teach and to comprehend that He is G-d, He is the former, He is the creator, He is the comprehender, He is the judge, He is the witness, He is the plaintiff, and He will judge. Blessed is He, for before Him there is no wrong, no forgetting, no favoritism, and no taking of bribes; know, that everything is according to the reckoning. Let not your heart convince you that the grave is your escape; for against your will you are formed, against your will you are born, against your will you live, against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give a judgement and accounting before the king, king of all kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. Pirkei Avot 4:22


+ 201 The world was created with ten utterances. What does this come to teach us? Certainly, it could have been created with a single utterance. However, this is in order to make the wicked accountable for destroying a world that was created with ten utterances, and to reward the righteous for sustaining a world that was created with ten utterances. Pirkei Avot 5:1


+ 201 There were ten generations from Adam to Noah. This is to teach us the extent of G-d's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until He brought upon them the waters of the Flood. There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham. This is to teach us the extent of G-d's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until Abraham came and reaped the reward for them all. Pirkei Avot 5:2


+ 238 With ten tests our father Abraham was tested and he withstood them all - in order to make known how great was our father Abraham's love for God. Pirkei Avot 5:3


+ 199 Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in Egypt, and another ten at the sea. Ten afflictions were wrought by G-d upon the Egyptians in Egypt, and another ten at the sea. With ten tests our forefathers tested G-d in the desert, as is stated (Numbers 14:22), "They tested Me these ten times, and did not hearken to My voice." Pirkei Avot 5:4


+ 233 Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in the Holy Temple: No woman ever miscarried because of the smell of the holy meat. The holy meat never spoiled. Never was a fly seen in the slaughterhouse. Never did the High Priest have an accidental seminal discharge on Yom Kippur. The rains did not extinguish the wood-fire burning upon the altar. The wind did not prevail over the column of smoke [rising from the altar]. No disqualifying problem was ever discovered in the Omer offering, the Two Loaves or the Showbread. They stood crowded but had ample space in which to prostrate themselves. Never did a snake or scorpion cause injury in Jerusalem. And no man ever said to his fellow "My lodging in Jerusalem is too cramped for me." Pirkei Avot 5:5


+ 204 Ten things were created at twilight of Shabbat eve. These are: the mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach]; the mouth of [Miriam's] well; the mouth of [Balaam's] ass; the rainbow; the manna; [Moses'] staff; the shamir; the writing, the inscription and the tablets [of the Ten Commandments]. Some say also the burial place of Moses and the ram of our father Abraham. And some say also the spirits of destruction as well as the original tongs, for tongs are made with tongs. Pirkei Avot 5:6


+ 216 There are seven things that characterize a boor, and seven that characterize a wise man. A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than him in wisdom or age. He does not interrupt his fellow's words. He does not hasten to answer. His questions are on the subject and his answers to the point. He responds to first things first and to latter things later. Concerning what he did not hear, he says "I did not hear." He concedes to the truth. With the boor, the reverse of all these is the case. Pirkei Avot 5:7


+ 210 Seven types of retribution come to the world, for seven types of sin. When some tithe and others don't, a hunger caused by turmoil ensues: some are hungry, others have their fill of food. When all are unanimous in their failure to tithe, a hunger by drought ensues. For not separating chalah, an annihilating hunger results. Plagues come to the world for those capital crimes mentioned in the Torah that have not been given over to the court, and for desecrating the produce of the sabbatical year. The sword comes to the world for the procrastination of justice, the corruption of justice, and because of those who misinterpret the Torah. Pirkei Avot 5:8


+ 212 Carnage by wild beasts comes to the world for false oaths and the desecration of God's name. Exile comes to the world for idol-worship, sexual promiscuity, murder and the failure to leave the land fallow on the sabbatical year. There are four time-periods when plagues increase: on the fourth and seventh years [of the sabbatical cycle], on the year following the seventh, and following the festivals of each year. On the fourth year, because of [the neglect of] the tithe to the poor that must be given on the third year; on the seventh, because of the tithe to the poor that must be given on the sixth; on the year after the seventh, because of the produce of the sabbatical year; and following each festival, because of the robbing of the poor of the gifts due to them. Pirkei Avot 5:9


+ 220 There are four types of people: One who says, "What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine" is a boor. One who says "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours" - this is a median characteristic; others say that this is the character of a Sodomite. One who says, "What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours" is a chassid (pious person). And one who says "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine" is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:10


+ 211 There are four types of temperaments. One who is easily angered and easily appeased - his virtue cancels his flaw. One whom it is difficult to anger and difficult to appease - his flaw cancels his virtue. One whom it is difficult to anger and is easily appeased, is a chassid. One who is easily angered and is difficult to appease, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:11


+ 204 There are four types of student. One who is quick to understand and quick to forget - his flaw cancels his virtue. One who is slow to understand and slow to forget - his virtue cancels his flaw. One who is quick to understand and slow to forget - his is a good portion. One who is slow to understand and quick to forget--his is a bad portion. Pirkei Avot 5:12


+ 196 There are four types of contributors to charity. One who wants to give but does not want others to give - is begrudging of others. One who wants that others should give but does not want to give - begrudges himself. One who wants that he as well as others should give, is a chassid. One who want neither himself nor others to give, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:13


+ 199 There are four types among those who attend the study hall. One who goes but does nothing--has gained the rewards of going. One who does [study] but does not go to the study hall - has gained the rewards of doing. One who goes and does, is a chassid. One who neither goes nor does, is wicked. Pirkei Avot 5:14


+ 201 There are four types among those who sit before the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer and the sieve. The sponge absorbs all. The funnel takes in at one end and lets it out the other. The strainer rejects the wine and retains the sediment. The sieve rejects the coarse flour and retains the fine flour. Pirkei Avot 5:15


+ 224 Any love that is dependent on something - when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases. What is [an example of] a love that is dependent on something? The love of Amnon for Tamar. And one that is not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan. Pirkei Avot 5:16


+ 185 Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven is destined to endure; one that is not for the sake of Heaven is not destined to endure. Which is a dispute that is for the sake of Heaven? The dispute(s) between Hillel and Shamai. Which is a dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korach and all his company. Pirkei Avot 5:17


+ 222 One who causes the community to be meritorious, no sin will come by his hand. One who causes the community to sin, is not given the opportunity to repent. Moses was meritorious and caused the community to be meritorious, so the community's merit is attributed to him; as is stated, "He did God's righteousness, and His laws with Israel" (Deuteronomy 33:21). Jeroboam the son of Nebat sinned and caused the community to sin, so the community's sin is attributed to him; as is stated, "For the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and caused Israel to sin" (I Kings 15:30). Pirkei Avot 5:18


+ 270 Whoever possesses the following three traits is of the disciples of our father Abraham; and whoever possesses the opposite three traits is of the disciples of the wicked Balaam. The disciples of our father Abraham have a good eye, a meek spirit and a humble soul. The disciples of the wicked Balaam have an evil eye, a haughty spirit and a gross soul. What is the difference between the disciples of our father Abraham and the disciples of the wicked Balaam? The disciples of our father Abraham benefit in this world and inherit the World To Come, and as is stated, "To bequeath to those who love Me there is, and their treasures I shall fill" (Proverbs 8:21). The disciples of the wicked Balaam inherit purgatory and descent into the pit of destruction, as is stated, "And You, G-d, shall cast them into the pit of destruction; bloody and deceitful men, they shall not attain half their days. And I shall trust in you" (ibid., 55:24). Pirkei Avot 5:19


+ 201 Judah the son of Teima would say: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, fleeting as a deer and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven. He would also say: The brazen--to purgatory; the bashful--to paradise. May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah. Pirkei Avot 5:20


+ 207 Ben Bag Bag would say: Delve and delve into it, for all is in it; see with it; grow old and worn in it; do not budge from it, for there is nothing better. Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain. Pirkei Avot 5:21


+ 170 He would also say: Five years is the age for the study of Scripture. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot. Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength, Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for sagacity. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power. Ninety, to stoop. A hundred-year-old is as one who has died and passed away and has been negated from the world. Pirkei Avot 5:22


+ 269 The sages expounded in the language of the Mishnah (blessed is He who chose them and their learning): Rabbi Meir would say: Whoever studies Torah for Torah's sake alone, merits many things; not only that, but [the creation of] the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called friend, beloved, lover of God, lover of humanity, rejoicer of God, rejoicer of humanity. The Torah enclothes him with humility and awe; makes him fit to be righteous, pious, correct and faithful; distances him from sin and brings him close to merit. From him, people enjoy counsel and wisdom, understanding and power, as is stated (Proverbs 8:14): "Mine are counsel and wisdom, I am understanding, mine is power." The Torah grants him sovereignty, dominion, and jurisprudence. The Torah's secrets are revealed to him, and he becomes as an ever-increasing wellspring and as an unceasing river. He becomes modest, patient and forgiving of insults. The Torah uplifts him and makes him greater than all creations. Pirkei Avot 6:1


+ 217 Said Rabbi Joshua the son of Levi: Every day, an echo resounds from Mount Horeb (Sinai) proclaiming and saying: "Woe is to the creatures who insult the Torah." For one who does not occupy himself in Torah is considered an outcast, as is stated (Proverbs 11:22), "A golden nose-ring in the snout of a swine, a beautiful woman bereft of reason." And it says (Exodus 32:16): "And the tablets are the work of God, and the writing is God's writing, engraved on the tablets"; read not "engraved" (charut) but "liberty" (chairut) - for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah. And whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah is elevated, as is stated (Number 21:19), "And from the gift to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to The Heights." Pirkei Avot 6:2


+ 222 One who learns from his fellow a single chapter, or a single law, or a single verse, or a single word, or even a single letter, he must treat him with respect. For so we find with David, king of Israel, who did not learn anything from Achitofel except for two things alone, yet he called him his "master," his "guide" and his "intimate," as is stated (Psalms 55:14), "And you are a man of my worth, my guide and intimate friend." Surely we can infer a fortiori: if David, king of Israel, who learned nothing from Achitofel except for two things alone, nevertheless referred to him as his master, guide and intimate, it certainly goes without saying that one who learns from his fellow a single chapter, a law, a verse, a saying, or even a single letter, is obligated to revere him. And there is no reverence but Torah, as is stated (Proverbs 3:35; 28:10), "The sages shall inherit honor" "and the integral shall inherit good"; and there is no good but Torah, as is stated (ibid. 4:2), "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it." Pirkei Avot 6:3


+ 202 Such is the way of Torah: Bread with salt you shall eat, water in small measure you shall drink, and upon the ground you shall sleep; live a life of deprivation and toil in Torah. If so you do, "fortunate are you, and good is to you" (Psalms 128:2): fortunate are you in this world, and it is good to you in the World To Come. Pirkei Avot 6:4


+ 216 Do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not lust for honor. More than you study, do. Desire not the table of kings, for your table is greater than theirs, and your crown is greater than theirs, and faithful is your Employer to pay you the rewards of your work. Pirkei Avot 6:5


+ 484 Torah is greater than the priesthood or sovereignty, for sovereignty is acquired with thirty virtues, the priesthood with twenty-four, and Torah is acquired with forty-eight qualities. These are: study, listening, verbalizing, comprehension of the heart, awe, fear, humility, joy, purity, serving the sages, companionship with one's contemporaries, debating with one's students, tranquility, study of the scriptures, study of the Mishnah, minimizing engagement in business, minimizing socialization, minimizing pleasure, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing gaiety, slowness to anger, good heartedness, faith in the sages, acceptance of suffering, knowing one's place, satisfaction with one's lot, qualifying one's words, not taking credit for oneself, likableness, love of God, love of humanity, love of charity, love of justice, love of rebuke, fleeing from honor, lack of arrogance in learning, reluctance to hand down rulings, participating in the burden of one's fellow, judging him to the side of merit, correcting him, bringing him to a peaceful resolution [of his disputes], deliberation in study, asking and answering, listening and illuminating, learning in order to teach, learning in order to observe, wising one's teacher, exactness in conveying a teaching, and saying something in the name of its speaker. Thus we have learned: One who says something in the name of its speaker brings redemption to the world, as is stated (Esther 2:22), "And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai." Pirkei Avot 6:6


+ 205 Great is Torah, for it gives life to its observers in this world, and in the World To Come. As is stated (Proverbs 4:22): "For they are life to he who finds them, and a healing to all his flesh." And it says (ibid. 3:8): "It shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones." And it says (3:18): "She is a tree of life for those who hold fast to her, and happy are those who support her." And it says (1:9): "For they shall be a garland of grace for your head, and necklaces about your neck." And it says(4:9): "She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you." And it says (9:11): "With me, your days shall be increased, and years of life shall be added to you." And it says (3:16): "Long days in her right hand; in her left, wealth and honor." And it says (3:2): "For long days, years of life and peace, they shall add to you." Pirkei Avot 6:7


+ 223 Rabbi Shimon the son of Judah would say in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, sageness, old age and children are becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world. As is stated (Proverbs 16:31): "Old age is a crown of beauty, to be found in the ways of righteousness." And it says (ibid. 20:29): "The beauty of youths is their strength, and the glory of sages is their age." And it says (ibid., 17:6): "The crown of sages are their grandchildren, and the beauty of children their fathers." And it says (Isaiah 24:23): "And the moon shall be abashed and the sun shamed, for the Lord of hosts has reigned in Zion, and before his elders is glory." Rabbi Shimon the son of Menasia would say: these seven qualities enumerated by the sages for the righteous were all realized in Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] and his sons. Pirkei Avot 6:8


+ 221 Said Rabbi Yossei the son of Kisma: Once, I was traveling and I encountered a man. He greeted me and I returned his greetings. Said he to me: "Rabbi, where are you from?" Said I to him: "From a great city of sages and scholars, am I." Said he to me: "Rabbi, would you like to dwell with us in our place? I will give you a million dinars of gold, precious stones and pearls." Said I to him: "If you were to give me all the silver, gold, precious stones and pearls in the world, I would not dwell anywhere but in a place of Torah. Indeed, so is written in the book of psalms by David the king of Israel: `I prefer the Torah of Your mouth over thousands in gold and silver' (Psalms 118:72). Furthermore, when a person passes from this world neither silver, nor gold, nor precious stones, nor pearls accompany him, only Torah and good deeds, as is stated (Proverbs 6:22): `When you go it will direct you, when you lie down it will watch over you, and when you awaken it shall be your speech.' `When you go it will direct you' - in this world; `when you lie down it will watch over you' - in the grave; `and when you awaken it shall be our speech' - in the World To Come. Also it says (Chaggai 2:8): `Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold, so says the L-rd of Hosts.' " Pirkei Avot 6:9


+ 254 God acquired five acquisitions in his world. These are: one acquisition is the Torah, one acquisition are the heavens and the earth, one acquisition is Abraham, one acquisition is the people of Israel, and one acquisition is the Holy Temple. The Torah, as it is written (Proverbs 8:22), "God acquired me as the beginning of His way, before His works of yore." The heavens and the earth, as it is written (Isaiah 66:1), "So says God: The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool; what house, then, can you build for Me, and where is My place of rest?"; and it says (Psalms 104:25), "How many are your works, O God, You have made them all with wisdom; the earth is filled with Your acquisitions." Abraham, as it is written (Genesis 14:19), "And he blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram to God Most High, acquirer of heavens and earth." Israel, as it is written (Exodus 15:16), "Till Your nation, O God, shall pass, till this nation You have acquired shall pass"; and it says (Psalms 16:3), "To the holy who are upon earth, the noble ones, in whom is all My delight." The Holy Temple, as it is written (Exodus 15:17), "The base for Your dwelling that you, God, have achieved; the Sanctuary, O Lord, that Your hands have established"; and it says (Psalms 78:54), "And He brought them to His holy domain, this mount His right hand has acquired." Pirkei Avot 6:10


+ 210 Everything that God created in His world, He did not create but for His glory. As is stated (Isaiah 43:7): "All that is called by My name and for My glory, I created it, formed it, also I made it." And it says (Exodus 15:1): "God shall reign forever and ever." Pirkei Avot 6:11