Friday, June 12, 2020

Wisdom of the Fathers

So many things are going on in the world -- COVID-19, rioting against social injustice, etc. --that I thought long and hard about what to include in this month's blog. I've been involved in some discussions about some of the related issues (responsibility to the community, white privilege, what will happen in the future), and I find myself referring back and finding solace in the six chapters of the Mishnah known as Pirkei Avos, or Wisdom of the Fathers. 

A recently published edition, Dorash Dovid: Insights and Essays on Pirkei Avos (by Rav Dovid Hofstedter, 2020), quotes the Meiri (13th century Catalonian Talmudist), who explains that "the tractate was given the name 'Avos' either because its contents 'came from the fathers of the world' -- this is because it quotes the premier Torah authorities of all time -- or because its contents are 'the avos [guiding principles], the foundation, the root, and the essence of all wisdom and every mitzvah, and the path to all virtue.'" 

Jessica Tamar Deutsch's Illustrated Pirkei Avot (Print-O-Craft Press, 2017) has become a favorite because the graphic novel approach works so well with the words of great rabbis.  Here are one of the ones I like best:

Chapter 1, Mishnahs  12, 13, 14 and 15:

©2017 by Jessica Deutsch.  All rights reserved. Used with permission of Print-O-Craft Press.

And a few more that have been guideposts in the "challenging time:"

Chapter 3, Mishnah 17:

Chapter 1, Mishnah 6: Get yourself a teacher, acquire a friend, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

As for the Real Cats of Israel, they are sleeping in the sun. So enjoy some kittens:

Happy Reading! 

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