This unique tractate of the Mishna is a collection of ethical sayings from the greatest Sages of Israel. It focuses on improving the individual’s personal qualities, and one’s a proper relationship with his fellow man, his community and his Creator. In this track, we will learn the Mishnayot of Tractate Avot in the spirit of “a study that leads to action.” That is, we will not be satisfied with an “abstract” understanding of the Mishna; rather, we will seek to internalize its messages so that they influence and change our daily lives. How will this work in practice? In each weekly meeting, we will study, about 4-5 Mishnayot from Pirkei Avot (see attached syllabus). The first step will be to understand the “simple” meaning of the Mishnayot (which is not always so simple...), for which purpose we will use the commentary of Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz on Tractate Avot (in Hebrew and English). The second stage will be to cultivate, in study pairs, discussions around various issues raised the mishnayot. The goal is to see how the mishnayot can serve as a spiritual, moral guide to elevate our daily conduct, and how they can help us deal with dilemmas of daily life. To this end, we will use the Guiding Questions that will appear in the weekly handouts, as well as the occasional list of additional sources which will be added to them for reference and further study. Naturally, the purpose of all the accompanying material is to assist you in your studies, and you are more than welcome to initiate other debates on topics that interest you and are relevant to your lives. “Bonuses”: Fundamentally, the learning will proceed on the basis of study partners. However, in order to enable us to meet the other members of the track, once a week we will ask a study pair to send a short video (2-5 minutes) to the rest of the group. In the video, they will present themselves and talk about something interesting they discovered in their studies (a thought-provoking discussion, or a situation they encountered that paralleled what they had learned, and the like), and which they would like to share with the other members of the group. In addition, we will try to send from time to time (not over frequently) videos with short lessons, to further enrich our understanding of topics related to the tractate. At the end of the track (towards Pesaḥ) all the members of the group will come together for a Zoom meeting, God willing. More details to follow.
Hi, nice to meet you!
I'm David Fialkoff
I study and teach at the Hesder Yeshiva in Tekoa, I edit Torah literature and I am studying for a PhD in the Department of Talmud at the Hebrew University.
I was privileged to be a student of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz for many years, from when I was a teenager at Yeshivat Makor Chaim, and continuing onto Yeshivat Tekoa. I even had the privilege to work with him on his edition of the Rambam. I am proud to be a partner in Beit Midrash Shalhevet, which continues the spirit and path of Rabbi Steinsaltz.
For any question or problem, you can reach me at:
Pirkei Avot Track Leader: