PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 2, Mishnah (Teaching) 8

Wisdom in study

Another favorite teaching of Hillel:

More flesh, more worms; more possessions, more worries; more wives, more witchcraft; more maidservants, more thievery.

However, more Torah, more life; more study with colleagues, more wisdom; more counsel, more understanding; more good deeds, more peace.

The acquisition of a good reputation brings personal gain, but one who has acquired Torah has acquired eternal life.

“Torah” here stands in for learning. One who can learn from anyone lives on forever because of their ability to listen with an open mind and heart. Personal development comes when we open our ears and hearts to learning from one another and to listening to each other.

How do you believe one gains a “good reputation”?… Read the rest

PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 2, Mishnah (Teaching) 5

Community support

Hillel Taught:

Do not withdraw from the community.

Do not be sure of yourself till the day of your death.

Do not judge your fellows till you stand in their situation.

Do not say “It is not possible to understand this,” for ultimately it will be understood.

Do not say “When I have leisure, I will study,” for you may never have leisure.

Hillel speaks of the power of a community. In life there are moments that might lead us to withdraw into our selves, and that’s acceptable for a moment. But, ultimately we are meant to be in community, in partnership. We can support one another through ups and downs, reassure one another and help one another.

Which of Hillel’s rules for life do you think is most important?… Read the rest

PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 1, Mishnah (Teaching) 12

Importance of education

Hillel taught:

Be a disciple of Aaron – loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures and attracting them to the study of Torah.

This text is about education. So often it is easier to assume we know what we know and we might be an expert in certain fields. Hillel teaches us that our job is to learn from everyone, to act with love towards one another and to help guide each other on a path of lifelong learning.

What type of education will you pursue? How do you continue to pursue learning even after you’re no longer “school-aged”?… Read the rest

PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 1, Mishnah (Teaching) 4

Home is where you make it

Yose ben Yoezer of Tzredah, and Yose ben Yohanan of Jerusalem, received the tradition from him.

Yose ben Yoezer of Tz’redah, taught:

Make your home a regular meeting place for the scholars; sit eagerly at their feet and thirstily drink their words.

The text is clearly reminding us that our home has a personality. Home is where the heart is, or more accurately, home is where you make it. I read this text and feel that my responsibility is to make my home a happy place for me and my family. But also a place where those who I love also want to gather.

What is the blessing of your home?… Read the rest

Sample Words of Wisdom

sample wisdom

While I didn’t say these words, they really encapsulate how I try to live and how I try to raise my kids to live their lives.—C.B.R.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I use this one all the time—“Even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect.”—M.A.

My mom told me on my wedding day that the secret to her marriage with my father was “never go to bed angry.” I live by this and to this day try to resolve and let go of as much “baggage” as I can before I sleep. I’m happier and I sleep better!—E.P.

I always told my kids, “Don’t cry because it is over, laugh because it happened.”—L.A.

Whenever I am overwhelmed with something new in my life, I remember what I told myself when I learned I was pregnant with my first child: “Dumber people than me have done it, and I am not dumb: I can do this.” It works every time.—L.S.Read the rest