11 votes

Why is it important that God created the first pair of tongs?

As quoted here from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the theological significance of tongs is that they are preparatory - they exist for the purpose of making something else - and the idea of G-d creating them ...
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11 votes
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Was there ever a Talmudic tractate on Avot?

According to the Mevo to Oz VeHadar's Maseches Avos Otzar Midrashei Chazal, p. 5, since Avos wasn't written on any specific mitzvah, Chazal never had their usual debates or discussions which are found ...
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10 votes
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What does Avot 6:6 mean when it invokes redemption?

In general, גאולה (redemption) seems to mean restoring something to its proper place, as in: returning an enslaved person to his family/home, or likewise, returning an ancestral property to its ...
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  • 17.2k
10 votes

What does Avot 6:6 mean when it invokes redemption?

The Maharal in Or Chadash on Megilas Esther explains that Hashem performs miracles in order to create a Kiddush Hashem. However, if the person involved in the rescue will take the credit then there is ...
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  • 4,691
10 votes
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Mouth of the donkey ("פִי הָאָתוֹן"): how can the Rambam seem to contradict the mishnah in Pirkei Avos?

Like Rambam, Ralbag also maintains that this incident did not occur in real life, and he explicitly discusses the view of the Sages: והנה דעת רבותינו ז”ל הוא שזה הענין היה כפשוטו ולזה אמרו שפי ...
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9 votes

What is learning torah lishma?

Like almost any good question in Judaism, there are a variety of opinions. I'll present a few here. In this case, though, I believe that the answers are not necessarily mutually exclusive: at the end ...
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8 votes
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What is the reason for the specific items listed in Pirkei Avot 5:6 being created just before Shabbat?

The Maharal says that the twilight period before the first Shabbos has a dual quality. It is still Friday, so it is still a day of creation, but it is Shabbos, a day above creation. So the things ...
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8 votes
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Was Shimon HaTzaddik the First Tanna?

Depends on what you mean by "Tanna". Generally, in classic sources, the Anshei K'nesses HaGedola refers to the generation of Ezra and Nechemya that built the new community in Israel. Then Shimon ...
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8 votes
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Yose b. Yoezer and Yose b. Yohanan received from them. Who does "them" refer to?

Rabbeinu Yonah writes that the 'them' is Shimon HaTzaddik and Antigonos. Before they studied under Antigonos they studied under Shimon HaTzaddik. It could also mean the Men of the Great Assembly (...
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7 votes
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What are the 10 utterances in Pirkei Avot 5:1

Chazal give a listing of the ten utterances is given in Bereishit Rabba 17:1, together with what to swap out. ויאמר ה' אלהים לא טוב היות תנינן: ‏ בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם, ואלו הן: ‏ ...
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7 votes

Shammai - receive everyone with a pleasant countenance

This discrepancy is addressed in the footnotes of the collected lectures of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Likutei Sichos Vol. 17 p. 114 note 37 ועד"ז יש לבאר במאמר שמאי אבות פ"א מט"ו הוי מקבל את כל האדם ...
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6 votes

Is it permissible for a woman to learn Pirkei Avot & Shulchan Aruch?

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l in Igros Moshe, YD III, siman 87 (top left column) famously said that girls can learn pirkei avos: משום שהוא עניני מוסר והנהגות טובות יש ללמדם בהסבר לעוררן לאהבת תורה ...
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6 votes
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Why does אבות cite Gen. 9, not Gen. 1, for נברא בצלם?

It seems to me that the key is "חִבָּה יְתֵרָה נוֹדַעַת לוֹ שֶׁנִּבְרָא בְצֶלֶם" In Bereishit 9, G-d is directly commanding mankind not to kill people, because they were created in the image of G-d. ...
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6 votes

Answer to question in first chapter of Tanya

Chapter 13 He explains that one should see them self "כרשע" as having the capacity for sin and should never let their guard down. But not actually as a rasha.
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6 votes
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Why does the Mishna say "שְׂנָא אֶת הָרַבָּנוּת"?

The simple answer is that רַבָּנוּת doesn't mean "the rabbinate." The Israeli rabbinate of today is called רַבָּנוּת, but it didn't exist in antiquity. The closest thing to an official body of rabbis ...
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6 votes
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Are we supposed to know which transgressions are light or severe?

Bartenura in Yoma explains (based on the gemara to this mishnah) that ‘light’ commandments here means all positive mitzvot as well as negative mitzvot which are able to be subsequently ‘fixed’ (lav ...
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6 votes

Which of the *Zugos* were in charge during the Chanukah story?

Adding to what @Schmerel wrote, the Chanukah story probably took place during the time of Yose ben Yoezer & Yose ben Yochanan and possibly also during the time of their students, Yehoshua ben ...
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6 votes
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What does "נגללים" mean about the tablets?

So there are a few sources that point to the fact that one of the miracles of the luchos were that they could be rolled up (as per your assumption). Firstly, there is an intriguing פסוק in שיר השירים ...
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  • 20.5k
5 votes

Why honor someone who teaches one thing? Say dayo lihyos k'Achisofel!

The Midrash Shmuel in his commentary there raises the possibility (but acknowledges that it is forced) that this Beraisa follows the opinion of R. Tarfon who allows a kal vachomer even when it is &...
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5 votes
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Why is Pirkei Avot the only mishnah that warrants saying an introductory paragraph?

During last Shabbat's Pirkei Avot shiur in my shul, my rav cited something from Knesset Yisra'el (B"N, this Shabbat, when I see him, I will ask him to locate the exact place, so I can edit it, here. ...
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  • 68.9k
5 votes

Understanding the dwelling of the Shechina

The Ramchal in his book, Derech Hashem, understands the "Shechina" to be the revelation of G-d's presence. The Shechina is present in different degrees in various circumstances, including the ones you ...
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  • 5,212
5 votes

How does Silence lead to wisdom

Our Sages teach that "silence is a fence for wisdom" (Avos 3:13). Rabbeinu Yonah (ibid.) mentions two ways through which silence begets wisdom. Firstly, it trains a person to avoid interrupting his ...
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  • 16.3k
5 votes

How does Silence lead to wisdom

The Baal Shem Tov: When silent one is able to think (about higher worlds - Mizritcher Maggid), which creates wisdom. (Slightly simplified). The Mizritcher Maggid: When silent he receives from ...
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  • 31.4k
5 votes

What does Avot 6:6 mean when it invokes redemption?

Tora T'mima to Ester 2:22 (note 44) explains that the intent is obvious: From anything said in the name of its sayer, it's possible that over time some honorable matter will come about that one ...
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  • 73.2k
5 votes

What does Avot 6:6 mean when it invokes redemption?

Based on R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary on Shemot 6:2-5 and his citation there of Isaiah 52:6, I'd like to suggest that the ultimate Redemption can be identified with attribution of God as the ...
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  • 46.9k
5 votes

Rabbi "shopping"

See this Mishna Chala 5, 7: יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהָיוּ אֲרִיסִין לְנָכְרִים בְּסוּרְיָא, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר מְחַיֵּב פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶם בַּמַּעַשְׂרוֹת וּבַשְּׁבִיעִית, וְרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל פּוֹטֵר. רַבָּן ...
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5 votes
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Why does Hillel's teachings change to Aramaic in Ethics of the Fathers?

SEE TOSFOS YOM_TOV on this mishnah HERE. והא דאמר בלשון תרגום עיין סוף מכילתין: - See my comments on 5:22 for why this mishna uses Aramaic. He sends to his comments HERE הפוך בה והפוך בה וכו' ...
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5 votes
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Pirkei Avos- how does a sieve retain the fine flour?

Bartenura explains that the desired fine flour is actually coarser than the unwanted dust-like particles which are removed via the sifting process. (The bran is removed prior to this stage.)
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5 votes

Who are the Elders in the beginning of Avot

See mefarshim, e.g. Yachin: הן השופטים שאחר יהושע:‏ The elders: The judges after Yehoshua. שעלי השופט האחרון מסר לשמואל ראש הנביאים.‏ Eli (Hakohen), the last judge, transmitted to Shmuel, the first ...
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  • 22.3k
4 votes

Why doesn't the Gemara cite Avos as a proof?

There are two separate angles the two sources wish to respectively address. Avot intends to list possible degrees of Divine presence, nothing more. The Talmud wishes to detail specific differences in ...
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