RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
By Yehudah ben Shomeyr
“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.”
The first, like breathing air and yet doesn’t know what it is or how it works still gets the benefit of breathing it, even so, a person who attends a study may be oblivious to what is being said or studied but still benefits from the spoken words there whether he realizes it or not. One may study on his own, which is good, but does not have the benefit of learning and gleaning from others. He doesn’t have the advantage of hearing and seeing different view points. His mind is not exercised to its fullest potential capacity. The third is the ideal student to be and has the peak benefits from his study. The last who cannot rightly be called a student is wicked.
“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.”
Oh, that we all might be sponges! No sense in picking and choosing what we hear from our teachers. We don’t, or shouldn’t do that with Scripture, so why do it with those who expound the Scriptures. I mean, just because we get convicted because a saying of our teacher is hard, yet we know he is right, doesn’t give us the right to be anything but a sponge.
-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr