Friday, June 22, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 6:6

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 6:6
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“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."”

“You have heard it said, but I say unto you….” – Yeshua the Messiah

John 7:46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

Yeshua our redeeming Messiah spoke on God’s behalf and no other, there for His words had Chiam (Life)!

John 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

John 10:10b …I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 6:5

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 6:5
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“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.”

As the saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And to go with this passage, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” As well as, “Actions speak louder than words.

In other words we study in order to do. We study to practice what we learn.

Prov. 25:6-7 Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great [men]: For better [it is] that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

Yeshua our Messiah had this to say:

Matthew 20:1-16 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

John 4:34-48 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly [is] plenteous, but the labourers [are] few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 6:2

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 6:2
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

I’d like to focus on a phrase in our selected passage that reads:

“…one who occupies himself with Torah.”

The word occupies is the Hebrew word “osek” and it is usually used in association with doing business.

The business of Torah is not like buying and selling, but it is our job to know the full worth and value of Torah and convince our fellow man to do the same. Just as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company must know his business backwards and forwards, we too need a daily set time to study and put into practice the rest of the time. This leads into another aspect of business which is always moving forward; if a business stays in one spot for to long on the corporate ladder there is a danger of stagnation which can lead to the death of a company. So it is with Torah, we need to practice it and learn how to apply it in any and every situation and time we find ourselves in. How do you think we as a people survived through out the centuries? Our ancestors weren’t stuck in a religious rut; they learned to adapt Torah to every situation and climate. Betterment and Spiritual Progress is the name of the game. I also think of our Messiah when he was at Bar Mitzvah age.

Luke 2:41-52 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Let’s hone in on verse 49:

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Yeshua, even as a young man knew the importance of being “osek” with Torah.
Oh if our youth would “osek” themselves with Torah…. No! What’a  deluded hypocrite am I, not only our youth, but ALL of us. Think of a better community, a better world we would have if we all osek Torah!

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 6:1-4

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 6:1-4
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

1. 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 G-d, lover of humanity, rejoicer of G-d, 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.

2. 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 G-d, and the writing is G-d'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."

3. 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."

4. 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.

This is quite a chunk of Perkei Avot to bit off at once, but it’s not so bad because it is a unified theme. That of which is:

·       The Torah makes one fit for life itself.
·       There is freedom in the Torah.
·       K.I.S.S., No, not the Rock band! Keep It Simple Stupid!

V.1 Just as you do good things, because just doing them is a reward in and of itself. We study Torah, not for the sake of getting back pats or praise, but it is a reward in and of itself to simply just study Torah. Not to say that other rewards don’t come with Torah study. Just like when we find someone’s wallet or purse and return it, we don’t necessarily expect a reward, but it makes it extra nice when we do. Similar with Torah.

The saying goes, “Knowledge is Power” and the old G.I. Joe cartoons, “Knowing is half the Battle.” This perfectly describes Torah and how it sets us up for successful living.

Why was King David called a man after God’s own heart? Christian’s say because he pursued worship, because he was a singer, a psalmist and a dancer, but this is not fleshed out as the reason anywhere in the Torah. It is because God’s very heart, His will, is Torah and according to Psalm 19 and 119, David was madly in love with the very heart of God, the Torah! It was His life!

Wisdom is a synonym for Torah and Wisdom is in the feminine, so a love of Torah is like a love affair between a man and a woman.

Torah is like spiritual food. Think of it as a baby being born with the Torah attached to the foot by a string and on the cover it says, “Instruction Manual for Living”.

V.2 Elsewhere in the Perkei Avot it tells us to couple our Torah study with a worthy occupation so one will be too busy to sin. In other words a job gives us opportunity to put or Torah knowledge into practice. Unlike most Christian interpretations, Jews have NEVER felt, or seen Torah as a bondage, but a way of freedom, a way to live free from sin.

For those who refuse to listen to Torah it is considered a curse, what does this say of Christians who says Messiah did away with the Torah!? They are making a liar of Messiah for one, because He NEVER said or even hinted at (Matt. 5).

V.3 The way to get the most out of Torah study is to study with someone else, as they say, “Two heads are better than one” Your study partner doesn’t have to be a scholar either.

V.4 is all about moderation and keeping it simple. Living out the Torah isn’t and doesn’t have to be complicated.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 5:25-26

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 5:25-26
By Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“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.”

This is one of my favorite passages for the Perkei Avot and speaks for itself about the joy and merit of Torah study.

“Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain.”

Just like the saying of weightlifters today, “No pain, no gain.”

“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.”

This is not gospel but a good standard to go by when raising a child in Torah. Now this is not to say to start them out at the age of five, but to start study at five. After the purification of mother and child after they are born one should read Scripture in the home and should allow the child to hear the Torah in synagogue, because it is like air, even though the child does not understand it he nonetheless benefits from it.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 5:23-24

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 5:23-24
By Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“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, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah.”

Judah here is advising us to take on animal traits and apply them to our spiritual life. Be bold as a leopard in your Torah Observance and Devotion to ADONAI, Be light as an a Eagle who can ride the wind with our fear in the midst of the storm, It’s okay too, and know when to retreat like a fleet footed deer, and perform each mitzvah with the strength of a lion.

Most of the time when the word brazen in mentioned in usually means cocky, arrogant, prideful and or unashamed at sinfulness. Is it any wonder the sacrificial Altar at the Temple and Tabernacle was called the Brazen (Brass) Altar? We are to be bashful when it comes to outright sin so we may keep far from it. These things will help hasten the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Temple.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 5:22

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot

Chapter 5:22

By Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“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, God, 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).”

Why is this example given? Because Abraham is the Father and the Prophet of the Jewish people and Balaam is thought to be the father and prophet to the Gentile people.

But even Gentiles can become talmidim (disciples) of Abraham, even if you’re children of Balaam and the visa versa is true as well. Being a talmid (disciple) is a choice.

Yochannon (John), Messiah’s cousin said to the children of Abraham who acted like talmidim (disciples) of Balaam in Matt. 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr