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💬 פרקי אבות פרק ד׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Four, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Many older Mishnaic manuscripts (such as some of those found in the Cairo Geniza) have a unique feature – they include Ta’amei Miqra (commonly known as cantillation marks or trop). Ta’amei Miqra are far more than just musical notation – they also code syntactic divisions, functioning almost like punctuation. Thus many earlier texts used Ta’amei Miqra to mark punctuation – and Mishnaic texts were no exception.

Pirqei Avot, the second-to-last Mishnaic tractate in Seder Neziqin, has had an important place in the heart of the Jewish people for centuries. Full of ancient pearls of wisdom – for instance, Hillel’s famous meditation ‘If I am not for me, who will be for me? And if I am for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” – many communities recite one chapter every Shabbat during the counting of the Omer, and read from it on a regular basis.

Taking into account both of these, this text includes all of Pirqei Avot with full ta’amei miqra added (to coin a word, it’s fully מְטוֹעָם m’to’am). It could be recited at any time when Pirqei Avot would normally be read or studied, using a cantillation system or not. (The systems for Torah and for the Three Scrolls work the best, in the opinion of the m’ta’em.)

Some notes:

In locations where Pirqei Avot quotes from Miqra itself, the original cantillation marks are preserved. The exceptions are quotations from Psalms, Proverbs and Job. Although the m’ta’em has previously developed a method of reciting the cantillation for these poetic EMe”T books, it is often difficult to transition from one system to another – ask those who read Megilat Esther! Thus, those readings have been m’to’am a second time to follow the pattern of the twenty-one other books.

There are multiple vocalized versions of Pirqei Avot, differing in order, spelling, and vocalization. None of them were really satisfying to the m’ta’em. The text here is a combination of the lot, largely based on the Ashkenazi text, mostly using Mishnaic Hebrew vocalizations (lakh vs. lekha etc.), and treating של־ as an attached prefix according to the Yemenite records. It may occasionally feel a bit unfamiliar, but it is this m’ta’em’s attempt to create a text as grammatically accurate to the original as possible while preserving as much accessibility as possible.


Source (Hebrew)Translation (English)
פרק ד
Chapter 4
כׇּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֕ל יֵ֥שׁ לָהֶ֛ם חֵ֖לֶק לְעוֹלָ֥ם הַבָּֽא׃ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר וְעַמֵּךְ֙ כֻּלָּ֣ם צַדִּיקִ֔ים לְעוֹלָ֖ם יִ֣ירְשׁוּ אָ֑רֶץ נֵ֧צֶר מטעו מַטָּעַ֛י מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָדַ֖י לְהִתְפָּאֵֽר׃
All Yisrael have a share in the World to Come, as it is said: ‘Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever; they are a plant of my own, the work of my hands, wherein I may glory.'[1] Isaiah 60:21. 
בֶּן־ז֖וֹמָא אוֹמֵֽר אֵיזֶה֤וּ חָכָם֙ הַלּוֹמֵ֣ד מִכׇּל־אָדָ֔ם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר מִכׇּ֥ל־מְלַמְּדַ֖י הִשְׂכַּֽלְתִּי׃ אֵיזֶה֤וּ גִבּוֹר֙ הַכּוֹבֵ֣שׁ אֶת־יִצְר֔וֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר ט֛וֹב אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם מִגִּבּ֑וֹר וּמֹשֵׁ֥ל בְּרוּח֖וֹ מִלֹּכֵ֥ד עִֽיר׃ אֵיזֶה֤וּ עָשִׁיר֙ הַשָּׂמֵ֣חַ בְּחֶלְק֔וֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר יְגִ֥יעַ כַּפֶּ֖יךָ כִ֣י תֹאכֵ֑ל אַשְׁרֶ֖יךָ וְט֥וֹב לָֽךְ׃ אַשְׁרֶ֖יךָ בָּעוֹלָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְט֥וֹב לָ֖ךְ לָעוֹלָ֥ם הַבָּֽא׃ אֵיזֶה֤וּ מְכֻבָּד֙ הַמְכַבֵּ֣ד אֶת־הַבְּרִיּ֔וֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר כִּֽי־מְכַבְּדַ֥י אֲכַבֵּ֖ד וּבֹזַ֥י יֵקָֽלּוּ׃
[Shimon] ben Zoma said: “Who is wise? He who learns from every man, as it is said: ‘From all my teachers I gained wisdom.'[2] Psalm 119:99.  Who is strong? He who subdues his [evil] impulse, as it is said: ‘He who is slow to anger is better than a strong man; he who rules his spirit is better than one who conquers a city.'[3] Proverbs 16:32.  Who is rich? He who is content with his lot, as it is said: ‘When you eat of the toil of your hands, happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you.'[4] Psalm 128:2.  Happy shall you he in this world; and it shall be well with you in the World to Come. Who is honored? He who honors his fellow-men, as it is said: ‘Those who honor me [by honoring their fellow, created in the divine image] I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.'[5] 1 Samuel 2:30. 
בֶּן־עַזַּ֖אי אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֥י רָ֛ץ לְמִצְוָ֥ה קַלָּ֖ה כְבַחֲמוּרָ֑ה וּבוֹרֵ֖חַ מִן־הָעֲבֵרָֽה׃ שֶׁמִּצְוָה֙ גוֹרֶ֣רֶת מִצְוָ֔ה וַעֲבֵרָ֖ה גוֹרֶרֶ֣ת עֲבֵרָ֑ה שֶׁשְּׂכַ֤ר מִצְוָה֙ ׀ מִצְוָ֔ה וּשְׂכַ֥ר עֲבֵרָ֖ה ׀ עֲבֵרָֽה׃ ה֖וּא הָיָ֥ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ אַל־תְּהִ֤י בָז֙ לְכׇל־אָדָ֔ם וְאַל־תְּהִ֥י מַפְלִ֖יג לְכׇל־דָּבָ֑ר שֶׁאֵ֨ין לָ֤ךְ אָדָם֙ שֶׁאֵין־ל֣וֹ שָׁעָ֔ה וְאֵין־לָ֥ךְ דָּבָ֖ר שֶׁאֵין־ל֥וֹ מָקֽוֹם׃
[Shimon] ben Azzai said: “Run to perform even a minor mitsvah, and flee from transgression; for one good deed draws [in its train] another good deed, and one transgression leads to another; for the reward of a good deed is a good deed, and the reward of sin is sin [virtue is its own reward, and sin its own penalty]. He used to say: “Do not despise anyone, and do not consider anything as impossible; for there is not a person who has not his hour, and there is not a thing (davar) that has not its place (maqom).”
רַ֥בִּי לְוִיטָ֛ס אִ֥ישׁ יַבְנֶ֖ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ מְאֹ֧ד ׀ מְאֹ֛ד הֱוֵ֖י שְׁפַ֣ל ר֑וּחַ שֶׁתִּקְוַ֥ת אֱנ֖וֹשׁ רִמָּֽה׃
Rebbi Levitas of Yavneh said: “Be exceedingly humble, since the end of a human being is decay (lit. worms).”
רַ֛בִּי יוֹחָנָ֥ן בֶּן־בְּר֖וֹקָא אוֹמֵֽר׃ כׇּל־הַמְחַלֵּ֞ל שֵׁ֤ם שָׁמַיִם֙ בַּסֵּ֔תֶר נִפְרָעִ֥ים מִמֶּ֖נּוּ בַגָּל֑וּי אֶחָ֤ד שׁוֹגֵג֙ וְאֶחָ֣ד מֵזִ֔יד בְּחִלּ֖וּל הַשֵּֽׁם׃
Rebbi Yoḥanan ben Beroqah said: “Whoever profanes the Shem Shamayim (the Heavenly name) secretly is punished publicly, whether the profanation is committed intentionally or unintentionally.”
רַ֥בִּי יִשְׁמָעֵ֖אל אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַלָּמֵד֙ עַל־מְנָ֣ת לְלַמֵּ֔ד מַסְפִּיקִ֥ין בְּיָד֖וֹ לִלְמֹ֣ד וּלְלַמֵּ֑ד הַלָּמֵד֙ עַל־מְנָ֣ת לַעֲשׁ֔וֹת מַסְפִּיקִ֣ין בְּיָד֔וֹ לִלְמֹ֥ד וּלְלַמֵּ֖ד לִשְׁמ֥וֹר וְלַעֲשֽׁוֹת׃
Rebbi Yishmael said: “He who learns in order to teach will be granted adequate means to learn and to teach; but he who learns in order to practice will be granted adequate means to learn and to teach, to observe and to practice.”
רַ֥בִּי צָד֖וֹק אוֹמֵֽר׃ אַל־תַּעֲשֵׂ֥ם עֲטָרָ֖ה לְהִתְגַּדֵּ֣ל בָּהֶ֑ן וְלֹ֣א קָרְדֹּ֔ם לֹאכַ֖ל מֵהֶֽן׃ וְכָ֛ךְ הָיָ֥ה הִלֵּ֖ל אוֹמֵ֑ר וּדְאִשְׁתַּמַּ֖שׁ בְּתָ֥גָא חָלַֽף׃ הָ֚א כׇּל־הַנֵּא֔וֹת מִדִּבְרֵ֖י תוֹרָ֑ה נָטַ֥ל חַיָּ֖יו מִ֥ן הָעוֹלָֽם׃
Rebbi Tsadoq said: Do not keep aloof from the community; do not [as a judge] play the part of a counselor; do not make of the Torah a crown (atarah) wherewith to magnify yourself, nor a spade wherewith to dig. Hillel used to say: ‘He who makes unworthy use of the Keter/Crown [of the Torah] shall perish.’ Hence, whoever makes selfish use of the Torah takes his own life.”
רַ֥בִּי י֖וֹסֵא אוֹמֵֽר׃ כׇּל־הַ֤מְכַבֵּד֙ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָ֔ה גּוּפ֥וֹ מְכֻבָּ֖ד עַל־הַבְּרִיּ֑וֹת וְכׇל־הַ֤מְחַלֵּל֙ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָ֔ה גּוּפ֥וֹ מְחֻלָּ֖ל עַל־הַבְּרִיּֽוֹת׃ רַ֛בִּי יִשְׁמָעֵ֥אל בְּנ֖וֹ אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַחוֹסֵ֤ךְ עַצְמוֹ֙ מִן־הַדִּ֔ין פּוֹרֵ֧ק מִמֶּ֛נּוּ אֵיבָ֥ה וְגָזֵ֖ל וּשְׁבוּעַ֣ת שָׁ֑וְא וְהַגַּ֤ס לִבּוֹ֙ בַהוֹרָאָ֔ה שׁוֹטֶ֛ה רָשָׁ֖ע וְגַ֥ס רֽוּחַ׃ ה֖וּא הָיָ֥ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ אַל־תְּהִ֖י דָ֣ן יְחִידִ֑י שֶׁאֵין֙ דָּ֣ן יְחִידִ֔י אֶ֖לָּא אֶחָֽד׃ וְאַל־תֹּאמַ֕ר קַבְּל֖וּ דַעֲתִּ֑י שֶׁהֵ֣ן רַשָּׁאִ֔ין וְלֹ֖א אַתָּֽה׃
Rebbi Yoséh said: “Whoever honors the Torah will himself be honored by men; whoever dishonors the Torah will himself be dishonored by men.” Rebbi Yishmael his son said: “He who avoids entering into litigation [and seeks a friendly settlement] rids himself of hatred, robbery and perjury; he who proudly lays down decisions is foolish, wicked and arrogant.” He used to say: “Do not judge alone, for none may judge alone except One; do not say [to your co-judges]: ‘Accept my view,’ for they [who are in the majority] are entitled to say that, but not you.”
רַ֥בִּי יוֹנָתָ֖ן אוֹמֵֽר׃ כׇּל־הַ֨מְקַיֵּ֤ם אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה֙ מֵעֹ֔נִי סוֹפ֖וֹ לְקַיְּמָ֣הּ מֵעֹ֑שֶׁר וְכׇל־הַ֨מְבַטֵּ֤ל אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה֙ מֵעֹ֔שֶׁר סוֹפ֖וֹ לְבַטְּלָ֥הּ מֵעֹֽנִי׃
Rebbi Yonatan said: “Whoever fulfills the Torah despite poverty shall in the end fulfill it in the midst of wealth; whoever neglects the Torah in the midst of wealth shall in the end neglect it on account of poverty.”
רַ֥בִּי מֵאִ֖יר אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֛י מְמַעֵ֥ט בְּעֵ֖סֶק וַעֲסֹ֣ק בַּתּוֹרָ֑ה וּשְׁפַ֣ל ר֔וּחַ בִּפְנֵ֖י כׇל־הָאָדָֽם׃ וְאִ֤ם בָּטַ֨לְתָּ֙ מִן־הַתּוֹרָ֔ה יֶ֥שׁ ל֛וֹ בְטֵלִ֥ים הַרְבֵּ֖ה כְנֶגְדָּ֑ךְ וְאִ֤ם עָמַ֨לְתָּ֙ בַתּוֹרָ֔ה יֶ֥שׁ ל֛וֹ שָׂכָ֥ר הַרְבֵּ֖ה לִתֶּ֥ן לָֽךְ׃
Rebbi Meir said: “Do rather less business and occupy yourself with the Torah; be humble before all men; if you neglect the Torah, you will have many disturbing causes in your way but if you toil in the Torah, there will be abundant reward given to you.”
רַ֛בִּי אֱלִיעֶ֥זֶר בֶּן־יַעֲקֹ֖ב אוֹמֵֽר׃ הָעוֹשֶׂה֙ מִצְוָ֣ה אַחַ֔ת קָנָ֥ה ל֖וֹ פְרַקְלִ֣יט אֶחָ֑ד וְהָעוֹבֵר֙ עֲבֵרָ֣ה אַחַ֔ת קָנָ֥ה ל֖וֹ קַטֵּיג֥וֹר אֶחָֽד׃ תְּשׁוּבָ֖ה וּמַעֲשִׂ֣ים טוֹבִ֑ים כִּתְרִ֖יס לִפְנֵ֥י הַפֻּרְעָנֽוּת׃ 
Rebbi Eliezer ben Yaaqov said: “He who performs one mitsvah gains for himself one advocate; he who commits one transgression acquires for himself one accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against punishment.”[6] Cf. Shemot Rabbah 32. 
רַ֛בִּי יוֹחָנָ֥ן הַסַּנְדְּלָּ֖ר אוֹמֵֽר׃ כׇּל־כְּנֵ֤סְיָה֙ שֶׁהִ֣יא לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם סוֹפָ֖הּ לְהִתְקַיֵּ֑ם וְשֶׁאֵינָה֙ לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם אֵ֥ין סוֹפָ֖הּ לְהִתְקַיֵּֽם׃
Rebbi Yoḥanan ha-Sandlar said: “Any assembly which is for the sake of Heaven [for the promotion of a noble purpose] will be of permanent value, but one which is not for the sake of Heaven will not be of permanent value.”
רַ֥בִּי אֶלְעָזָ֖ר אוֹמֵֽר׃ יְהִי֙ כְב֣וֹד תַּלְמִידָ֔ךְ חָבִ֧יב עָלֶ֛יךָ כִכְב֖וֹד חֲבֵרָ֑ךְ וּכְב֤וֹד חֲבֵרָךְ֙ כְּמוֹרָ֣א רַבָּ֔ךְ וּמוֹרָ֥א רַבָּ֖ךְ כְּמוֹרָ֥א שָׁמַֽיִם׃
Rebbi Elazar ben Shammua said: “Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own, and the honor of your colleague be like the reverence due to your teacher, and the reverence for your teacher be like the reverence for Heaven.”
רַ֥בִּי יְהוּדָ֖ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֥י זָהִ֖יר בַּתַּלְמ֑וּד שֶׁשִּׁגְגַ֥ת הַתַּלְמ֖וּד עוֹלָ֥ה זָדֽוֹן׃
Rebbi Yehudah said: “Be careful in teaching, for an error in teaching amounts to intentional transgression.”
רַ֥בִּי שִׁמְע֖וֹן אוֹמֵֽר׃ שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה כְתָרִ֖ים הֵ֑ן כֶּ֨תֶר תּוֹרָ֜ה וְכֶ֣תֶר כְּהֻנָּ֗ה וְכֶ֧תֶר מַלְכ֧וּת וְכֶ֥תֶר שֵׁם־ט֖וֹב עַל־גַּבֵּיהֶֽן׃
Rebbi Shimon said: “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty; but the crown of a good name excels them all.”
רַ֥בִּי נְהוֹרַ֖אי אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֤י גוֹלֶה֙ לִמְק֣וֹם תּוֹרָ֔ה וְאַל־תֹּאמַ֕ר הִ֖יא תָּב֣וֹא אַחֲרַ֑י שֶׁחֲבֵרֶ֨יךָ֙ יְקַיְּמ֣וּהָ בְיָדֶ֔ךָ וְאֶל־בִּינָתְךָ֖ אַל־תִּשָּׁעֵֽן׃
Rebbi Nehorai said: “Go as a voluntary exile to a place of Torah, and do not say that the Torah will seek after you, for it is your fellow students who will make it your permanent possession; and do not rely on your own understanding.”
רַ֥בִּי יַנַּ֖אי אוֹמֵֽר׃ אֵ֣ין בְּיָדֵ֔ינוּ לֹ֖א מִשַּׁלְוַ֣ת הָרְשָׁעִ֑ים וְלֹ֛א מִיִּסּוּרֵ֖יהֶן שֶׁלַּצַּדִּיקִֽים׃
Rebbi Yannai said: “It is not in our power to explain why the wicked are at ease, or why the righteous suffer.”
רַ֛בִּי מַ֥תְיָא בֶן־חָרָ֖שׁ אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֥י מַקְדִ֖ים בִּשְׁל֣וֹם כׇּל־הָאָדָ֑ם וֶהֱוֵי֙ זָנָ֣ב לָאֲרָ֔יוֹת וְלֹ֖א רֹ֥אשׁ לַשּׁוּעָלִֽים׃
Rebbi Matyah ben Ḥarash said: “Meet every man with a friendly greeting; be the tail among lions rather than the head among foxes.”
רַ֥בִּי יַעֲקֹ֖ב אוֹמֵֽר׃ הָעוֹלָ֣ם הַזֶּ֗ה דוֹמֶה֙ לִפְר֣וֹזְד֔וֹר בִּפְנֵ֖י הָעוֹלָ֣ם הַבָּ֑א הַתְקֵ֤ן עַצְמָךְ֙ בִּפְר֣וֹזְד֔וֹר כְּדֵ֛י שֶׁתִּכָּנֵ֖ס לַטְרִקְלִֽין׃ ה֖וּא הָיָ֥ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ יָפָ֞ה שָׁעָ֨ה אַחַ֤ת בִּתְשׁוּבָה֙ וּבְמַעֲשִׂ֣ים טוֹבִ֔ים בָּעוֹלָ֖ם הַזֶּ֑ה מִכׇּל־חַיֵּ֖י הָעוֹלָ֥ם הַבָּֽא׃ יָפָ֞ה שָׁעָ֨ה אַחַ֤ת שֶׁלְּקוֹרַת־ר֨וּחַ֙ בָּעוֹלָ֣ם הַבָּ֔א מִכׇּל־חַיֵּ֖י הָעוֹלָ֥ם הַזֶּֽה׃
Rebbi Yaaqov said: “This world is like a vestibule before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the vestibule, so that you may enter the banquet hall.” He used to say: “One hour spent in repentance and good deeds in this world is better [more exhilarating] than the whole life of the World to Come; yet one hour of satisfaction in the World to Come is better than a whole life of this world.”
רַ֥בִּי שִׁמְע֖וֹן אוֹמֵֽר׃ אַל־תְּרַצֶּ֤ה אֶת־חֲבֵרָךְ֙ בְּשָׁעַ֣ת כַּעֲס֔וֹ וְאַל־תְּנַחֲמֶ֨נּוּ֙ בְּשָׁעָ֔ה שֶׁמֵּת֖וֹ מוּטָ֣ל לְפָנָ֑יו וְאַ֨ל־תִּשְׁאַ֤ל לוֹ֙ בְּשָׁעָ֣ה נִדְר֔וֹ וְאַל־תִּשְׁתַּדֵּ֥ל לִרְאוֹת֖וֹ בְּשָׁעָ֥ה קַלְקָלָֽתוֹ׃
Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar said: “Do not pacify your fellow in the hour of his anger; do not comfort him while his dead lies before him; do not question him at the time he makes a vow; and do not try to see him in the hour of his disgrace.”
שְׁמוּאֵ֥ל הַקָּטָ֖ן אוֹמֵֽר׃ בִּנְפֹ֤ל אוֹיִבְךָ֙ אַל־תִּשְׂמָ֔ח וּבִכָּשְׁל֖וֹ אַל־יָגֵ֣ל לִבֶּ֑ךָ פֶּן־יִרְאֶ֤ה יְהוָה֙ וְרַ֣ע בְּעֵינָ֔יו וְהֵשִׁ֥יב מֵעָלָ֖יו אַפּֽוֹ׃
Shmuel ha-Qatan said: “‘Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart exult when he stumbles; lest YHVH see it and be displeased, and he divert his wrath from him [to you].'[7] Proverbs 24:17-18. 
אֱלִישָׁ֥ע בֶּן־אֲבוּיָ֖ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַלּוֹמֵ֤ד יֶ֨לֶד֙ לְמַ֣ה ה֣וּא דּוֹמֶ֔ה לִדְי֥וֹ כְתוּבָ֛ה עַל־נְיָ֖ר חָדָ֑שׁ הַלּוֹמֵ֤ד זָקֵן֙ לְמַ֣ה ה֣וּא דּוֹמֶ֔ה לִדְ֕יוֹ כְתוּבָ֖ה עַל־נְיָ֥ר מָחֽוּק׃
Elisha ben Avuyah said: “If one learns when he is young, to what is it like? To ink written on new [fresh] paper. If one learns when he is old, to what is it like? To ink written on blotted paper.”
רַ֥בִּי יוֹסֵ֖י בֶּן־יְהוּדָ֑ה אִ֛ישׁ כְּפַ֥ר הַבַּבְלִ֖י אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַלּוֹמֵ֤ד מִן־הַקְּטַנִּים֙ לְמָ֣ה ה֣וּא דוֹמֶ֔ה לְאוֹכֵ֨ל עֲנָבִ֧ים קֵה֛וֹת וְשׁוֹתֶ֥ה יַ֖יִן מִגִּתּ֑וֹ הַלּוֹמֵ֤ד מִן־הַזְּקֵנִים֙ לְמָ֣ה ה֣וּא דוֹמֶ֔ה לְאוֹכֵ֨ל עֲנָבִ֧ים בְּשׁוּל֛וֹת וְשׁוֹתֶ֥ה יַ֖יִן יָשָֽׁן׃
Rebbi Yoséh ben Yehudah of Kfar ha-Bavli said: “He who learns from the young, to what is he like? To one who eats unripe grapes, or drinks [new] wine from his vat. He who learns from the old, to what is he like? To one who eats ripe grapes, or drinks old wine.”
רַ֖בִּי אוֹמֵֽר׃ אַל־תִּסְתַּכֵּל֙ בַּקַּ֣נְקַ֔ן אֶ֛לָּא בְמַ֖ה שֶּׁיֶּ֣שׁ בּ֑וֹ יֵ֨שׁ קַנְקַ֤ן חָדָשׁ֙ מָלֵ֣א יָשָׁ֔ן וְיָשָׁ֕ן שֶׁאֲפִ֥לּוּ חָדָ֖שׁ אֵ֥ין בּֽוֹ׃
Rebbi Yehudah haNasi said:[8] Others attribute to Rebbi Meir  “Do not look at the flask but at what it contains: a new flask may be filled with old wine and an old flask may be empty even of new wine [a man’s age is not a reliable index to his learning].”
רַ֛בִּי אֶלְעָזָ֥ר‏ הַכַּפָּ֖ר אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַקִּנְאָה֙ וְהַתַּאֲוָ֧ה וְהַכָּב֛וֹד מוֹצִיאִ֥ין אֶת־הָאָדָ֖ם מִן־הָעוֹלָֽם׃ ה֖וּא הָיָ֥ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ הַיִּלּוֹדִ֤ים לָמוּת֙ וְהַמֵּתִ֣ים לִחְי֔וֹת וְהַחַיִּ֖ים לִדּוֹ֑ן לֵידַ֣ע ׀ וּלְהוֹדִ֣יעַ וּלְהִוָּדַ֗ע שֶׁה֤וּא הַיּוֹצֵר֙ וְה֣וּא הַבּוֹרֵ֔א ה֤וּא הַמֵּבִין֙ וְה֣וּא הַדַּיָּ֔ן ה֥וּא עֵד֙ ה֣וּא בַּ֣עַל דִּ֔ין וְה֖וּא עָתִ֥יד לָדֽוֹן׃ שֶׁאֵ֣ין לְפָנָיו֩ לֹ֨א עַוְלָ֜ה וְלֹ֣א שִׁכְחָ֗ה וְלֹא֙ מַשּׂ֣וֹא פָנִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א מַקַּ֖ח שֹׁחַ֑ד שֶׁהַכֹּ֖ל שֶׁלּֽוֹ׃ 
Rebbi Elazar ha-Kappar said: “Envy, lust and ambition shorten a man’s life.” He used to say: “Those who are born are destined to die; those who are dead are destined to be brought to life again; and the living are destined to be judged. [It is for you] to know, to proclaim, to be convinced that he is El, he the Maker, he the Creator, he the Discerner, he the Judge, he the Witness, he the Complainant; it is he who will judge. Blessed be the one in whose presence there is no wrongdoing, nor forgetting, nor partiality, nor taking of bribes.
וְדַ֕ע שֶׁהַכֹּ֖ל לְפִ֥י הַחֶשְׁבּֽוֹן׃ 
וְאַל־יַ֤בְטִיחָךְ֙ יִצְרָ֔ךְ שֶׁהַשְּׁא֥וֹל בֵּית־מָנ֖וֹס לָֽךְ׃
שֶׁעַ֨ל כׇּרְחָ֜ךְ אַתָּ֣ה נוֹצָ֗ר 
וְעַ֤ל כׇּרְחָךְ֙ אַתָּ֣ה נוֹלָ֔ד
וְעַ֨ל כׇּרְחָ֜ךְ אַתָּ֣ה חַ֗י
וְעַ֣ל כׇּרְחָךְ֮ אַתָּ֣ה מֵת֒
וְעַ֤ל כׇּרְחָךְ֙ אַתָּ֣ה עָתִ֔יד לִתֵּ֖ן דִּ֣ין וְחֶשְׁבּ֑וֹן 
לִפְנֵ֤י מֶ֨לֶךְ֙ מַלְכֵ֣י הַמְּלָכִ֔ים הַקָּד֕וֹשׁ בָּר֖וּךְ הֽוּא׃
Know that all is according to reckoning,
and let not your imagination persuade you that the grave is a place of refuge for you.
Perforce you were formed and
perforce you were born;
perforce you live,
perforce you shall die, and
perforce you shall have to give a strict account
before the supreme King of kings, the blessed Holy One.”
רַ֛בִּי חֲנַנְיָ֥א בֶּן־עֲקַשְׁיָ֖א אוֹמֵֽר׃ רָצָ֗ה הַקָּדוֹשׁ֙ בָּר֣וּךְ ה֔וּא לְזַכּ֖וֹת אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל לְפִיכָ֕ךְ הִרְבָּ֥ה לָהֶ֖ם תּוֹרָ֥ה וּמִצְוֹֽת׃ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר יְהֹוָ֥ה חָפֵ֖ץ לְמַ֣עַן צִדְק֑וֹ יַגְדִּ֥יל תּוֹרָ֖ה וְיַאְדִּֽיר׃
Rebbi Ḥananya ben Aqashya said: “The blessed Holy One desired to purify Yisrael; hence he gave them a Torah rich in rules of conduct, as it is said: ‘YHVH was pleased, for the sake of [Yisrael’s] righteousness, to render the Torah great and glorious.'[9] Isaiah 42:21. 

I have adapted the English translation of Pirqei Avot by Paltiel Birnbaum, as published in his Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem (1949), mostly to re-Hebraize names, but also to edit and replace some of the commentary that he left in brackets. I’ve also made numerous other small changes. –Aharon Varady




1Isaiah 60:21.
2Psalm 119:99.
3Proverbs 16:32.
4Psalm 128:2.
51 Samuel 2:30.
6Cf. Shemot Rabbah 32.
7Proverbs 24:17-18.
8Others attribute to Rebbi Meir
9Isaiah 42:21.



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