April 28, 2018 will mark the fourth Shabbat after Pesach. This means we shall look at chapter 4 from Pirke Avot as we continue our studies moving toward Shavuot. The version of Pirke Avot I am using comes from Sefaria.org (The Sefaria edition of Pirke Avot with community translation) as well as the classical commentary by Rabbi Ovadiah Bartenura (from Sefaria.org, The Sefaria edition of The Bartneura Commentary with community translation):
Chapter 4 of Pirke Avot gives us insight into the benefits of Torah study lishmah, that is, for its own sake. We also see that the performance of a mitzvah, elevates us (and the act) spiritually. Thus, in mishnah 11, we see that “Every gathering (kinisiyah)that is for the sake of heaven, its end is to endure.” We must keep in mind that everything we do, however mundane, must be spiritually motivated to bring Godliness down into the world. While we try, in prayer, not to let mundane thoughts intrude, they often due. In the same why, while engaging in mundane, worldly activities, we should let thoughts of Hashem enter to remind us that HE alone is in control (ein od milvado). Mishnah 1 asks, “Who is wise?”, truly it is someone who learns from all people. This is important to remember in these times when civil discourse seems to be at a minimum!
The Bartenura comments as follows:
We must remember to be humble with what we know (as there is always room to learn more). As it says in Chapter 4, mishnah 4 of Pirke Avot:
In which Bartenura comments: