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Encyclopedia > Pirkei Avot

Pirkei Avoth (Hebrew: Chapters of the Fathers, פרקי אבות ) or simply Avoth is a tractate of the Mishna composed of ethical maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period. It is the second-last tractate in the Mishnaic order Nezikin. The Modern Hebrew language is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. ... The Mishnah (Hebrew משנה, Repetition) is a major source of rabbinic Judaisms religious texts. ... Ethics is a general term for what is often described as the science (study) of morality. In philosophy, ethical behavior is that which is good or right. ... Nezikin (The Order of Damages) is the fourth order of Mishna (also the Tosefta and Talmud). ...

The tractate consists of five chapters. The first four chapters contain sayings attributed to sages from Simon the Just (3rd century B.C.E.) to Judah haNasi (3rd century C.E.), redactor of the Mishnah. These aphorisms concern proper ethical and social conduct, as well as the importance of Torah study. Judah haNasi, or more accurately in Hebrew, Yehudah HaNasi, was a key leader of the Jewish community of Judea under the Roman empire, toward the end of the 2nd century CE. He was reputedly from the Davidic line of the royal line from King David, hence his title Prince (Nasi... Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or especially law. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Five Books of Moses, but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the...

The fifth chapter of Avoth departs from the organization and content of the preceding four in that it consists mostly of anonymous sayings structured around numerical lists, several of which have no direct connection with ethics. The last four paragraphs return to the format of moral aphorisms attributed to specific rabbis.

In liturgical use, and in most printed editions of Avoth, a sixth chapter, Kinyan Torah ("Acquisition of Torah") is added; this is in fact the second chapter of tractate Kallah, one of the minor tractates. It is added because its content and style closely approximate that of the original tractate Avoth. From at least the time of Saadia Gaon (10th century C.E.), it has been customary to study one chapter a week on each of the seven Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot, or nowadays until Rosh Hashana; the tractate is therefore included in many prayer books, following the Sabbath afternoon prayers. In the course of such study, it is common to preface each chapter with the Mishnaic saying, "All Israel has a share in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 10:1), and to conclude each chapter with the saying, "The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to bestow merit upon Israel; therefore he gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundance" (Makkoth 3:16). The Minor Tractates are essays from the tannaitic period or later dealing with topics about which no formal tractate exists in the Mishnah. ... Saadia Ben Joseph Gaon ( 892- 942), the Hebrew name of Said al-Fayyumi, was a rabbi who was also a prominent Jewish exilarch, philosopher, and exegete. ... For the observance of a seventh day of rest in religions other than Judaism see Sabbath. ... Passover, also known as Pesach or Pesah (פסח pesaḥ), is a Jewish holiday begining on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan (i. ... Shavuot (Hebrew שבועות), ([seven] weeks) (pronounced: shah-voo-OH-t) is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. ... This article is about the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. ... The siddur is the prayerbook used by Jews the world over, containing a set order of daily prayers. ... Jewish services are the prayers recited as part of observance of Judaism. ... Mitzvah מצוה is Hebrew for commandment (plural mitzvot; from צוה, tzavah - command). ...

The tractate includes several of the most frequently-quoted rabbinic sayings, such as "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am [only] for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" (Avoth 1:15), and "It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it" (Avoth 2:19).

Although Avoth does not have an accompanying Gemara, one of the minor tractates of the Talmud, Avoth deRabbi Nathan ("The Fathers according to Rabbi Nathan"), is an expansion of the Mishnaic tractate containing numerous additional ethical teachings and legends. The Gemara are the Rabbinical commentaries and analysis on the Mishnah, undertaken in the Academies of Palestine and Babylon over a 300 year period to about 500CE. The Mishnah is the core text, and the gemara is the analysis and commentary which “completes” the Talmud (from gamar גמר, to complete). ... The Minor Tractates are essays from the tannaitic period or later dealing with topics about which no formal tractate exists in the Mishnah. ...

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  Results from FactBites:
The Jewish Political Tradition as the Basis for Jewish Civic Education (4604 words)
Pirkei Avot often is taught as a simple entry point into the study of Talmudic literature, based on a Mishnah easily accessible even to relative beginners.
Judah Goldin suggests that Avot may once have been placed at the very end of the Mishnah as its final world and that we can assume that moving Avot to Nezikin was deliberate and not merely an afterthought.
It concludes with Avot which, I would suggest, deals with the theoretical principles on which the first two subjects rest and by which cases and controversies involving them are to be judged.
Ethics of the Fathers/Pirkei Avot (517 words)
The only tractate of the sixty­three that does not deal with laws is called Pirkei Avot (usually translated as Ethics of the Fathers) and it is the "Bartlett's" of Judaism.
Pirkei Avot transmits the favorite moral advice and insights of the leading rabbinic scholars of different generations.
Because its reasoning is direct, and largely based on human experience, Pirkei Avot is the most accessible of the books making up the Oral Law.
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