RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr
“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.
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.
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.”
These are reminiscent of what it says in 2:1
“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.”
There is no excuse for one not to keep the Torah. Here is an article I wrote which applies to these passages:
Rabbi, is Homemade Judaica “Kosher”?
Being a Netzari Jewish Rabbi who follows the Halacha of Rebbe Yeshua and who follows the halacha of the Rabbi and Sages of the Talmud as long as it lines up with Torah and with the Halacha of Yeshua Messiah, I get asked if homemade religious articles are “kosher” or not.
For instance, is a homemade Mezuzah, Tallit or Tefillin acceptable? As long as they do not violate any prohibitions of Torah; for example a linen tallit with wool tzitzit wouldn’t be kosher because it violates the commandment of mixing wool with linen (Lev.19:19), I don’t have a problem with it.
I know and realize that articles of Judaica can be very expensive and hard to come by especially if you do not live in a Jewish community where you have access to a Judaica shop, or if you do not have access to the internet.
In that case if you have the zeal and desire to fulfill the commandment of tzitzit or donning tefillin and you don’t have the money to by a “certified kosher” set, then by all means make them! I remember making my own set of tefillin until I saved up enough money to buy a “kosher” set.
I used to minister at a local prison and these guys were so zealous for HaShem and His Torah that they make their own tefillin out of belts, leather from old bible covers and popsicle sticks; and they made one for me which I wear during prayer every morning. I wear my “kosher” set on weekends. I am proud to wear this homemade set of tefillin that was made by my precious brothers behind bars. It reminds me to pray for them.
Well, what do I think God thinks of it? Let me ask you this? Would you rather your child buy a card for you, or make you a card? Which one means more, which one is more precious to you? Which one shows more love? Which one do you hang on your fridge? The homemade one obviously, because it was not bought with money, but made with love by the child’s own hand. So too with God, I feel He must beam with pride when His children are so zealous to fulfill His commandments that despite their financial limitations they nonetheless find a way to fulfill His Torah. They may not be able to buy a “kosher” set of tefillin at the moment but they are not letting that stop them from keeping His Torah.
-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr