RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr
“Yossei the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem would say: Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household. And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said even regarding one's own wife--how much more so regarding the wife of another. Hence, the sages said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits Gehinnom.”
The Rabbis address several things in this passage. Why should we have our house open wide? Well, it is the ear mark of a Jew. Abraham, the first Hebrew (Jew) was famous for being hospitable. The Torah says it was his custom to sit at the door of his tent. Tradition says he opened all 4 corners of his tent so as to see travelers come from any direction. In this way he would entertain guest and when they attempt to thank him, he would tell them to direct their praise to God and would then tell them about the One True God and in this way be an evangelist of sorts. The most famous display of Abraham’s hospitality is when God arrived with the angels in the guise of men. This was three days after God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and his entire household, and the third day is the most painful. This is precisely when Levi and Shimon (Simeon) attacked the people of whom raped their sister, the tricked them into circumcising themselves thinking that the Sons of Ya’akov (Jacob) would intermarry with this people and they would lose their identity and wealth to this other people. But as we know this was not the case, Levi and Shimon entered their city on the third day and killed everyone. They could not fight back because the men were to sore and fatigued from the circumcision.
So here we have Abraham sitting tired and sore at his tent door. Did he say, “Sorry fella’s, I can’t be hospitable today, I am in to much pain. About 10 kilometers west of here by the old palm tree is Alappabad, he may give you some water and some food.”? No! The Torah said he made haste to prepare a meal for these men. Wow! What selflessness. Now that’s a man! As a result God was able to save his nephew Lot. Lot most likely would have perished if Abraham told the men to move on or come back later. So the rabbis stress to be hospitable to everyone for as the Brit Chadasha say you never know when you are entertaining angels unaware.
Heb. 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Okay this next part, are the Rabbi’s and Sages sexists!? No, they are wise. I would not attempt to read into things that’s not really there. The point attempted to be made here is that too much talk, idle talk, unnecessary talk, arguing with ones wife will disrupt the home and hinder ones Torah studies. And if you flap the jaw with a woman other than your wife a very innocent thing can turn into a gravely sinful thing as the Proverbs says about the smooth talking woman (Prov. 6:20-7:27).
And like Adam being slowly convinced to eat the forbidden fruit because of Chavah (Eve) (Gen. 3:1-13, 17).
Like the Nassi (Prince) that Pinchas (Phinehas) had to kill on account he was doing the nasty with a goyish woman he wasn’t married to in the site of all Israel (Num. 25)!
Not because Rabbi’s believe we are animals and can’t control ourselves, but because Rabbi’s are wise and do not think we are above temptation, we simply avoid obvious situations where a temptation and a fall can occur. Because we can restrain ourselves and decide not to do such and such and take measures not to do it that is what separates us from the animal kingdom.
-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr