PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 1, Mishnah (Teaching) 2

Shimon HaTzadik was one of the last members of the Great Assembly. This was a favorite teaching of his:

The world rests on three things-

On Torah, on Service of God and on deeds of love.

wisdom-of-mothers-three

This is possibly one of the most well known passages of Pirkei Avot. In it, Shimon HaTzadik implies that with these three items the world will be sustained. Torah can be widely translated as learning. Service of God is our modern day notion of prayer and upholding the laws of the Torah. Acts of love is simple. Simply loving one another, showing kindness and compassion to each other will certainly help us to sustain and continue to bring good and blessing into our world.

But, I read these and they feel a bit sterile, they don’t seem to hit on what I crave in both my professional life and my life as a mother.

As a professional, my world rests on the notion of Mentorship, honest conversation and Partnership. When I work in an environment that provides me with these three items I find myself growing, being sustained and uplifted.

As a mother, my world rests on patience, observation and deeds of love. These … Read the rest

Study Guide #2

wisdom-of-mothers-study-guideFrom PIRKEI AVOT, Chapter II, Mishnah 6

“A boor cannot be reverent; an ignoramus cannot be pious;
A shy person cannot learn; an ill-tempered person cannot teach;
Not everyone engrossed in business learns wisdom.
Where there are no worthy persons, strive to be a worthy person.”

Questions for self-study or group discussion

  1. Have you ever had a situation where you had to stand up to be counted? For an unpopular opinion? To help someone? To be a role model in a situation needing one? How did you feel?
  2. Have you ever had a situation where you didn’t stand up to be counted, and later wished you had? How did you feel? What would you do differently next time?
  3. What does the word “worthy” mean to you?
Read the rest

Study Guide #1

wisdom-of-mothers-study-guideFrom PIRKEI AVOT, Chapter I, Mishna (Verse) 2

Shimon Ha-Tzadick was one of the last members of the Great Assembly.

This was a favorite teaching of his:

The world rests on three things—

On Torah, on service of God, on deeds of love.

 

Questions for self-study or group discussion

If we were to change the word “world” to a different word/s, a whole new message could be created using the same formula. For example, is we chose the word “mentoring” and three new words on which that rests, the new sentence might read, “Mentoring rests on three things:   patience, experience, and communication.”

Rewrite the original sentence, typed above in bold print, using the same formula. Change the word “world” to other words, followed by three things on which you think it rests, as in. “__________ rests on three things: _________, __________, and ___________.” You might want to try this withn more than one subject.… Read the rest

PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 1, Mishnah (Teaching) 15

Shammai taught:

Make the study of Torah your primary occupation:

Say little, do much, and

Greet every person with a cheerful face.

wisdom-of-mothers-grown-daughter

This particular Mishnah speaks to me as a woman, mother, grandmother, daughter, wife, teacher, professional, synagogue congregant, friend—-in fact all the roles I play in my life. As I look at all three lines, the words “role model” come to mind, because in each of the roles I just mentioned, doing the act described is not only important to do for its own sake, it is important for its value as a role model as well.

As women, what we do as role models count. They count in our families—as daughters, granddaughters, siblings, mothers. They count in the work place, in the synagogue, in our relationships.

And they count in each line of the Mishnah.

Make the study of Torah your primary occupation.

At any age, continuing to study and re-study Torah and Jewish writings helps us to stay on higher ground morally and spiritually, and seek new meanings in familiar writings as we and our situations change. To make it our primary occupation, as suggested in the writings, would keep us grounded as well. While I certainly … Read the rest

PIRKEI AVOT: Chapter 2, Mishnah (Teaching) 6

“A boor cannot be reverent; an ignoramus cannot be pious;
A shy person cannot learn; an ill-tempered person cannot teach;
Not everyone engrossed in business learns wisdom.
Where there are no worthy persons, strive to be a worthy person.”

(While this passage uses the word “worthy”, I believe other words, such as courageous, righteous, honest, trust-worthy for example, can be used in its place without diminishing its meaning.)

wisdom-of-mothers-stand-up

Have you ever had the experience of being in a group when the majority opinion differs with yours” Not only do you disagree, but you believe the opinion expressed is morally, ethically, or practically just not right? What should you do?

This passage is saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Stand up to be counted.” It is our job to do the right thing—to set ourselves apart from others, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. It is telling us to speak out, to act, to show others the way.

For Mothers, it means not giving in to popular choices for our children when we think they are inappropriate. It means being a role model for things we think are important, to do things and participate, … Read the rest