Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot Chapter 5:9-12

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 5:9-12
By Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“There are seven things that characterize a boor, and seven that characterize a wise man. A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than him in wisdom or age. He does not interrupt his fellow's words. He does not hasten to answer. His questions are on the subject and his answers to the point. He responds to first things first and to latter things later. Concerning what he did not hear, he says "I did not hear." He concedes to the truth. With the boor, the reverse of all these is the case. Seven types of retribution come to the world, for seven types of sin. When some tithe and others don't, a hunger caused by turmoil ensues: some are hungry, others have their fill of food. When all are unanimous in their failure to tithe, a hunger by drought ensues. For not separating chalah, an annihilating hunger results. Plagues come to the world for those capital crimes mentioned in the Torah that have not been given over to the court, and for desecrating the produce of the sabbatical year. The sword comes to the world for the procrastination of justice, the corruption of justice, and because of those who misinterpret the Torah. Carnage by wild beasts comes to the world for false oaths and the desecration of God's name. Exile comes to the world for idol-worship, sexual promiscuity, murder and the failure to leave the land fallow on the sabbatical year. There are four time-periods when plagues increase: on the fourth and seventh years [of the sabbatical cycle], on the year following the seventh, and following the festivals of each year. On the fourth year, because of [the neglect of] the tithe to the poor that must be given on the third year; on the seventh, because of the tithe to the poor that must be given on the sixth; on the year after the seventh, because of the produce of the sabbatical year; and following each festival, because of the robbing of the poor of the gifts due to them.”

This passage is pretty much on target and self explanatory, but here are some Scripture verses to back up what has been said.

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.

James 1:19 {This} you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak {and} slow to anger;

Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

And we’ve all heard the old adage that we should think before we speak or that we should engage our brain before our mouth.

No matter if you’re a lay person or a Rabbi, you will be praised for your honesty if you just admit to what you don’t know instead of trying to fake your way through and answer. The truth is what is most important here, not status.

Prov. 17:28 Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is {considered} prudent.

What follows is an interesting commentary regarding sin, a tit for tat, a “punishment to fit the crime” consequences.

Most of this we can confirm is true for it is found in Deuteronomy 27-28, regarding the blessings and cursing for obedience and disobedience to the Torah.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr