(A Work in Progress)
Since I believe books have no future and all learning will soon be via light on a screen I will not publish any hard copies of this work.
Moreover, since this study is Torah there will never be a final version. Consider this work in progress a very rough draft awaiting your corrections and commentary. I revel in the rough(ness).
This is also true of The Final Age Testament.
Today I wear my Rabbi cap and invite you to join this discussion of one of the main texts of Talmud Torah.
When do we study Pirkay Avot? One tradition is to link the liberation of Passover to the renewal of Rosh Hashanah by studying the text from the Shabbat following Passover until that holyday. Another tradition links the liberation of Passover to the revelation of Shavuot through study of Avot.
Either way works. I suggest another approach; a ten week course of study that is summer reading for our people.
Then we have a ten week course of study based on the synagogue Torah readings and a prophetic understanding of our narrative of exile and suffering, based on Jeremiah and Isaiah. This summer reading is uplifted by the comforting of Isaiah. Those seeking mastery of the sources will do well to compare the synagogue readings and haphtarahot with the original text of Pirkay Avot.
The original text is neatly tucked into the Siddur, the prayer book, so that the study of Avot is a type of prayer. The earliest ordering of the Siddur by Rabbi Amram Gaon (850 C.E.) suggests our summer reading of Avot on Shabbat afternoons. This encourages reflection on our core principles in the midst of our day of rest, tranquility, and wisdom. Since Shabbat is a foretaste of the world to come it makes sense we prepare for the future
on that day. May this study also be a prayer.
As a practical plan I suggest you map out a study guide for all six chapters of Avot, and repeat and review and discuss the teachings for ten weeks. Write your own update as you make a list of your own principle(d) teachings.
Who are your principle teachers? Mine include my wife, my parents, my children, the sages of Israel, including, of course, Rebbe Reb Zalman, Franz Kafka, and my pastoral counseling mentor Rabbi Edwin R. Friedman.
Ordering by listing imitates the process of creation outlined in the book of Genesis. We learn in the original text of Avot that the world was created with Ten Utterances. The Mishnah then asks (Mishnah One Chapter Five)
“What Talmud may we learn from this?”
We ask: Why Ten Priciple(d) Teachings Moses kabballahed on the Mountain?
May we define Ten Principles of Redemption, the third supreme theme of Torah after Creation and Revelation? These questions are discussed in my other writings.
Our forum begins as we contemplate and compare the teachings of Avot with the Ten Principle Teachings on the twin set of Tablets. Discuss basics and commandments. Review and recite and you will be practicing Mishnah. Mishnah is more than text, it is process. Wisdom is acquired by repetition. Mishnah means repetition, so I repeat myself. Pirkay Avot is a compilation of Mishnah.
Each chapter consists of Mishnah, teachings of The Oral Law. Our Rabbis of blessed memory teach that oral teachings may not be written down. This is never taken literally, and means the discussion must never end, in other words, consider Mishnah to be open to commentary. Commentary is Talmud. Mishnah is always an open source, a work in progress. Poetically we rabbis teach that every innovation in interpretation was given to Moses on Sinai. Again not literally, but if one is part of the discussion, revelation is possible.
Pirkay Avot is not for Jews alone. Come and learn. Innovation based on tradition is the essence of Talmud Torah. Innovation for the sake of innovation is called “New.” Not everything in the gospels is Torah or good news but it is all called “New”. ReNewal is our task. Updating Mishnah via commentary (Talmud) is essential to rabbinic Judaism.
Many books have been written on Basic Judaism.
In my opinion Judaism is not experienced best in books, but in discussion.
The Oral Law may be written down if, and only if, the written words are springboards to Talmud. This process guarantees the Torah remain an open ended ideal constitution as a text.
As a teacher I follow the Shabbat and Holyday tradition here of completing the Torah reading with a prophetic reading thematically related. In Pirkay Avot of the Future the prophetic voice is most often poetry, not prose. This version of Pirkay Avot includes prophetic voices since it is concerned with future teachings. Your voice is required for this to be a traditional text. Not commenting will mean the impossibility of reconstructing the Broken Tablets; the Atonement of our Torah begins when you add your voice. By doing so you are ready to receive The Second Set of Tablets.
As a master teacher I always redefine terms. Perkay Avot does not mean “Ethics of our Fathers.” A Perek is simply a chapter. Every chapter contains Mishnah. Mishnah is to be memorized and discussed and repeated over and over again in Talmudic discussion.
“Avot” does mean “Fathers” and contains fatherly, mainly patriarchal advice, mixed with a bit of misogyny. It is time for someone, a woman I presume, to write Perkay Emahoat, Chapters of our Mothers.
“Avot” also means “Principles. I create the word Principle(d) as a poetic flourish. I have explained why this is a work in progress. I look forward to your comments.
Pirkay Avot Ha-Atid
All who struggle with the teachings of Torah are destined to life eternal, as our main prophet teaches (Isaiah 60:21):
each and everyone righteous,
shall inherit the land forever,
I plant you
in my rooting
the work of my hands
Beauty in the balance.
Glory in her Shalom.
A future teaching:
Violence no longer heard
Our officers Peace
Our Rulers Righteous
Salvation our only Wall
Isaiah at every Gate.
My Rabbi Abba once said to me:
If one does not teach his father
He grows up wild in the world.
His father, my Zady, taught a variation:
If one does not learn from his father
He grows up wild in the world.
My Rabbi Emma teaches:
The reason Torah begins with the story of the Garden of Eden
is to teach that we are one family.
We are all sisters and brothers.
My Rebbetzin Karena teaches: Prayer, Avodah in Hebrew is heart work. Do it with joy. Do not forget dancing lessons. The road to enlightenment is a movement from chaos to order and is hard work. This work begins in the Temples of your mind.
Rav Aleph says:
The Holy One
Blessed be She
Seeks intimacy, She is
In the details, as it is written
In Isaiah (42:20-21)
“Gods desire is to dance
(the prophet teaches the steps)
much to see, so observe
much to hear, so Shema Yisrael
much to learn, so a one and a two…
strengthen those legs
(Netzach and Hod
And never forget Yesod)
Rav Roshi comments:
Enough Kabballahistic mumbo jumbo
These are the body of the teachings
That never lies:
You are the map, not the diagrams
of the spheres, The Ten Utterances
foreshadow The Ten Teachings.
Echoing from creation
and the Redemption.
This The Final Kabballah
So put away the maps
And count on fingers
Freedom written on The Tablets
The Ten Future Teaching
To the end:
Five to five.
Two hands clapping.
The Riddle solved.
My Rav Yossi teaches:
After the father raises the son
The son raises the father.
The wise learn from everyone.
Water is the sacrament
Before a meal.
My Rabbanu Tal teaches:
In the future final age
every man women and child
will be a sage.
Rabbi Aryeh interrupted:
Call home. This is the essence of the quest for self.
HaRav HaRofah taught:
All redemption begins with taking charge of your own health, spiritual and physical. Then the messiah will come.
Whole food is the only holy food. Keep this kosher.
Rav Aleph adds:
Our food for thought is the Oral Law. Digest the teachings, gain nourishment, then speak.
My Rebbe, Rebbe Reb Zalman teaches: Be a professor of spirituality and embody the teachings. The neo-Chassidic is the only hope for American Jew’s. Master your own tradition and then at least one other tradition.
Rabbi Franz says:
You are the task, no disciple far or wide.
Paradise is in you
whether you know it or not.
Many circle dance around Sinai
Their speech unclear
Either they are chatty, or they shout
or are uncommunicative (even secretive).
Now, let your legs go in swift strides
up the newly made wide path
to the Arête.
The coming of Messiah is personal,
cannot be destroyed.
This is also the Resurrection.
Saving your own life
the Messiah comes
only when no longer necessary.
The Law, which has been a Pirkay Avot
An Ethics of the Fathers
will become a revelation
that is not only given, but received
and clear upon the Tablets
only when it belongs to the Am Ha Aretz
the common people.
Rabbi Franz, after a dream of the rose rabbi, wrote:
There does exist
A perfect possibility
to believe in the indestructible within
(the decisively divine)
and not to pursue happiness.
Rav Chesed taught : Basic Judaism is balanced by acidic Judaism. Make your wits acerbic.
Rav Emet enjoins:
Truth begins in wisdom. Wisdom begins in the strength of your questions.
This is also the true way to Kabballah.
Rabbi Edwin asks:
What is most essential?
“Attitude is everything.”
He used to say:
Poets are essential in the quest to grasp reality
because they are unafraid of ambiguity.
All modern idolatry is rooted in the quest for certainty.
The certain are deadly serious about their beliefs.
The reptilian regressions of society may be traced back to those who have no doubts.
All are chosen but few hear the call.
Leadership is defined by your “I have a dream speech”. Write it today. Scale a mountain. Hike to the arête. Speak. Send a copy to you family. Send a copy to your friends. Send a copy to us.
A Moses, meet your rabbis.
Then disavow all followers.
The literary Rev. Oscar V. teaches:
All bad poetry is sincere.
Rav A contradicted:
Is all sincere poetry bad?
Is the expression not enough?
Do Professors of English
All write “good” poetry?
And what of the critics?
Rebbetzin Ye- who -deat (Achote) taught three:
The attitude that is all
is to be grateful,
which leads to graciousness,
which is the essence of Godliness.
Without a firm foundation based on principle(d) teachings
we cannot hope to pass on wisdom to our children.
We are imperfect people
in an imperfect world
so be forgiving.
Moses Kabballahed Torah on
Shared the vision with Joshua
Who thoroughly confused the Elders
of our generation
Whose Adoration confuses
Us, Alenu, and them.
What was censored?
Who striped the text?
Was he Joshing?
What of his bare bones text?
Is the Book of Joshua?
What is real in the conquest?
Have you read the prophets?
Joshua a bandit or diplomat?
Rav HaKane taught:
Send Three Proclamations to the natives:
Submit to Peace and we will live in Peace.
If not, you are welcome to leave,
if not, we sanctify a war.
He used to say:
The New and Newest Revelations
Are not improvements on the Old
So be zealous for Torah.
Today let the Palestinians leave or choose Peace.
Ours is a Jewish homeland
To this Rav Aleph responds:
Judaism Christianity and Islam
According to Torah
Are True Religions
All people are of the earth
am A ha are Atz
The Land holy to each,
Until Ishmael and Hagar are treated as cousins
Israel may become like
of her oppressors.
Think of the refugees
The members of the Great Assembly taught Three:
A.) Take your time before judging.
Joshua the diplomat sued for Shalom.
A princple(d) teaching for all future chapters;
Our Rabbis teach:
Sue for Peace
Sit with Your Enemy
B.) Raise the modern rabbis on this teaching: Shalom. Sealah.
C.) Midrash is the only hedge for Torah.
Rabbi Simon says:
The future world rests on these foundations:
Mirroring the divine ah-ha-va
(say it, feel it, live it!)
Say ah ha
Join with va
Ah ha va
Join heaven and earth
Loving neighbor and self.
Shemayeh once said:
Hate the Rabbinate
Love your Rabbi
Harav hanavi said:
Revelation is a song
Troped by Moses on
Revealed in Hebrew as Aleph
In English as
Aleph is silent
To the lightning.
Habbakkuk at this (Chapter Two Verse Two)
The Lords answer to the prophet
On when ends the nightmare
That is our history:
Write down clearly the vision
Upon the Twin Tablets
Sing it simple,
(Rav K is right
All human errors are impatience.)
Gaze into my eyes and await my kiss
See nigh. And wait.
For still the vision awaits its time
We will meet again
in the Garden.
Ezra the Scribe asks:
So what do we do in the meantime?
All the books are written
All of wisdom found.
He answered his own question:
These are the stories
of the end, the hierarchy is
The Temples of the mind.
(making the left brain righteous)
The Chambers of the Heart.
The Halls of your home.
The structures of religion
In that order.
As to my confusion in my chapter nine
Putting religion before truth and love
That was then.
This is now.
We are all goy-em.
Rabbi Franklin the Katan taught:
Death and life are in the hands of the tongue,
more than a proverb;
We are what we think,
By doctrine is
Israel bound to the altar;
By an idea,
the Old replaced by the New
And other lamentable jeremiads.
The real prophet Jeremiah
taught renewal not replacement.
Nothing will ever replace Torah
And the God that is a true God,
Whose Torah is Truth
Whose prophets are prophets of Truth.
The people Israel suffer as the servant
Is not by the Jews
It is of the Jews.
The person of Israel, the struggles of Israel and the Land,
Rev Hans teaches:
No peace among the nations without peace among the religions;
No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions;
No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards; and
No survival of our globe without a global ethic.
Peace among the religions is a Tikkun of the Broken Tablets.
Let the dialogue begin right here, right now, as we define:
The ethics of our traditions.
A Global ethic.
Let there be Peace on Earth, let it begin with me.
The Zanav Aryeh says: Judah is a lions cub, Israel but a young lion. As she grows in courage she will lie down with the wolf and the lamb.
Rav Asher Hasadran sang: Be strong. Be strong, and let us strengthen one another.
Rabbi Einstein opined: “Imagination is greater than information.”
Reb Harold the Sofer teaches:
Mishnah must be more than repetition of teachings.
True Talmud is innovation.
Our goal, then, is never tradition.
Our goal is transmission, our task never ending.
Kabballah is an attempt to restore the primal meaning of the Torah given to Moses on the Mountain.
The genius of Moses is yet to be revealed.
The real author of the books ascribed to Moses is, in fact, the most blasphemous author, ever, after me.
She fires the canon.
She is most accurately called Y
Y solves and reveals the three thousand year old riddle written on the Tablets.
J is the god of the Fathers.
The R.E.A.L. (Rav Emma Aryeh Laurence) teaches:
The first Mishnah of Chapters of our Mothers:
Women who study Torah will be rewarded in greater measure than men, since one who performs a meritorious act out of love rather than out of duty does a greater deed.
Updating the Fathers even further, study becomes an obligation for men, women and children and non-Jews.
Let all study which begins as obligation transform into study done out of love, for its own sake, and the sake of Gods Name.
Gods name is spelled A.H.V.H. and is pronounced Ah-ha-va.
The Kaballah Masters did not reveal this secret
because they forgot.
Rav Laurence reminds:” In the beginning” is our end. Master all Torah, all Testaments, including those of literature, but do not make literature your religion.
Listen and learn as I reveal secrets as basics:
The following Mishnah opens the door to the redemption of the people:
Into a master teacher.
As Rabbanu Tal has taught; “every citizen a sage.”
Be receptive and become a master of Kabballah
As great as Moses.
You the Cohane Priest.
You the King.
You the Minister
You the Leader
The Messiah of your own life.
Any other path
Is, and has been,
The Way of Tyranny.
The Rose Rabbi was heard to verse
A basic secret:
The Fall is not a Fall at all
But a fan dance.
The wintered rabbi’s letters
Blacken the parchment, but Torah is also
An emanation an
In ten se
Tree of Knowing
The Aural Law commands:
A listening to the lightening.
A silence finally spoken.
in teachings fertilizing,fecund:
Sod is Sod in Sod.
Rav A responds.
No secrets in our syllables.
The body is of real
Our blood in your goblets
Our flesh is your gobbet
Devoured; but not digested.
The only happy people
in an unhappy world
we still dance
to the auroras of autumn.
The Rose Rabbi also teaches:
God and the Imagination are One.
The Apter Rebbe said :
We appraise the significance of a civilization and its culture most aptly by the refinement there is in the inner life of people.
Compassion, justice and holiness outweigh art and science, the university and the seminary, as the measures of a civilized life.
Our great and grand parents understood that the Tables in their humble homes were consecrated altars. In the modern world this basic teaching has become a secret. Home made Judaism must be conserved.
Anyone, after an ah-ha moment, may connect to loving-kindness and become a saint. The attitude of the saint is that she does not know how it is possible not to love, not to help, not to be sensitive to others.
Be a master teacher and then a saint. We are either minister of the sacred
or slaves of evil. It is arrogance to deny the possibility of being great.
The true holy war is against the vulgar, against the glorification of the absurd. This war is incessant and universal. All people on this earth have this struggle in common, so we are a nation of common people.
Remember, every word is power, every deed counts, there is meaning beyond absurdity; and above all build your life as a work of art.
The Secrets of Shabbat
Shabbat is an event that teaches Shalom. Shabbat is the armistice in the cruel struggle for survival, a truce in all conflicts, personal and social.
The Shalom of Shabbat begins within, and includes: Shalom in the home, being at Peace with the material world, and grasping the true meaning of what it means to “make a living.” Shabbat Shalom is being at Peace with nature; and a rest from the nightmare that has been our history.
Shabbat is the Exodus from every narrow place, a revelation, entering the holy land of a clear mind that inspires us to be a sovereign in the world of time.
Shalom is experienced on Shabbat as we discuss our principle(d) teachings.
Rabban Edwin completes:
If you want to preserve your teachings
Keep them to yourself.
The Very Rabbi adds:
The teachings move from knowledge to life
when they are nourished by din,sod and drash
Truth is revealed in discussion,
where the dance is forming around the mountain
as the people make ready for the Ascent.
The dance takes one full year and is then repeated.
The simplest understanding of the story is instructive.
The story is your story.
Response is essential. Talmud. Torah…