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פרקי אבות פרק ה׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Five, 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 ה
Chapter 5
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. 
בַּעֲשָׂרָ֥ה מַאֲמָר֖וֹת נִבְרָ֣א הָעוֹלָ֑ם וּמַה֙ תַּלְמ֣וּד לוֹמַ֔ר וַהֲלֹ֨א מַאֲמָ֧ר אֶחָ֛ד הָיָ֥ה יָכ֖וֹל לְהִבָּרֽוֹת׃ אֶ֩לָּא֩ לְהִ֨פָּרַ֤ע מִן־הָרְשָׁעִים֙ שֶׁמְּאַבְּדִ֣ין אֶת־הָעוֹלָ֔ם שֶׁנִּבְרָ֖א בַעֲשָׂרָ֣ה מַאֲמָר֑וֹת וְלִתֵּן֙ שָׂ֣כָר ט֣וֹב לַצַּדִּיקִ֔ים שֶׁמְּקַיְּמִ֛ין אֶת־הָעוֹלָ֥ם שֶׁנִּבְרָ֖א בַעֲשָׂרָ֥ה מַאֲמָרֽוֹת׃
By ten divine utterances was the world created. Why does the Torah indicate this? Surely the world could have been created by one divine utterance. It means to emphasize that [severe] penalty will be exacted from the wicked who destroy the world which was created by [no less than] ten utterances, and that he will grant a rich reward to the righteous who maintain the world which was created by ten utterances.
עֲשָׂרָ֤ה דוֹרוֹת֙ מֵאָדָ֣ם וְעַד־נֹ֔חַ לְהוֹדִ֧יעַ כַּ֛מָּה אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם לְפָנָ֑יו שֶ֣כׇּל־הַדּוֹר֗וֹת הָי֤וּ מַכְעִיסִין֙ לְפָנָ֔יו עַ֕ד שֶׁהֵבִ֥יא עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם אֶת־מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל׃ עֲשָׂרָ֤ה דוֹרוֹת֙ מִנֹּ֨חַ֙ וְעַד־אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔ינוּ לְהוֹדִ֧יעַ כַּ֛מָּה אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם לְפָנָ֑יו שֶ֣כׇּל־הַדּוֹר֗וֹת הָי֤וּ מַכְעִיסִין֙ לְפָנָ֔יו עַד־שֶׁבָּא֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔ינוּ וְקִבֵּ֥ל עָלָ֖יו שְׂכַ֥ר כֻּלָּֽם׃ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה נִסְיוֹנ֔וֹת נִתְנַסָּ֖ה אַבְרָהָ֖ם אָבִ֑ינוּ וְעָמַד֙ בְּכֻלָּ֔ם לְהוֹדִ֞יעַ כַּ֣מָּה ׀ הִ֣יא חִבָּת֗וֹ שֶׁ֛לְּאַבְרָהָ֥ם אָבִ֖ינוּ עָלָ֥יו הַשָּׁלֽוֹם׃
The ten generations from Adam to Noaḥ [are recorded in Genesis] to make known how great is divine patience; for all those generations continued provoking [God], until he [finally] brought upon them the waters of the flood. The ten generations from Noaḥ to Avraham [are recorded] to make known how great is divine patience; for all those generations continued provoking [God], until our father Avraham came and received the reward they should all have been given [had they not forfeited their share]. With ten trials was our father Avraham tried, and he stood firm in all of them; [this is recorded] to make known how great was the love of our father Avraham [towards God]. With ten trials was our father Avraham tried, and he stood firm in all of them; [this is recorded] to make known how great was the love of our father Avraham [towards God].
עֲשָׂרָה֙ נִסִּ֔ים נֶעֱשׂ֖וּ לַאֲבוֹתֵ֣ינוּ בְמִצְרַ֑יִם וַעֲשָׂרָ֖ה עַל־הַיָּֽם׃ עֶ֣שֶׂר מַכּ֗וֹת הֵבִיא֙ הַקָּד֣וֹשׁ בָּר֣וּךְ ה֔וּא עַל־הַמִּצְרִיִּ֖ים בְּמִצְרַ֑יִם וְעֶ֖שֶׂר עַל־הַיָּֽם׃ עֲשָׂרָ֖ה נִסְיוֹנ֑וֹת נִסּ֤וּ אֲבוֹתֵ֨ינוּ֙ אֶת־הַמָּק֣וֹם בָּר֣וּךְ ה֔וּא בַּמִּדְבָּ֖ר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַֽר׃ וַיְנַסּ֣וּ אֹתִ֗י זֶ֚ה עֶ֣שֶׂר פְּעָמִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּקוֹלִֽי׃
Ten miracles were performed for our fathers in Mitsrayim, and ten at the Sea of Reeds [the plagues did no harm to the Yisraelim]. Ten plagues did the blessed Holy One bring upon the Mitsrim in Mitsrayim, and ten at the Sea. With ten trials did our fathers try the blessed Holy One in the Midbar/wilderness, as it is said: ‘They have put me to the test ten times now, and have not obeyed my voice.'[2] Numbers 14:22 
עֲשָׂרָה֙ נִסִּ֔ים נֶעֱשׂ֖וּ לַאֲבוֹתֵ֑ינוּ בְּבֵ֖ית הַמִּקְדָּֽשׁ׃ לֹא֩ הִפִּילָ֨ה אִשָּׁ֤ה מֵרֵ֨יחַ֙ בְּשַׂ֣ר הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וְל֧֨א הִסְרִ֛יחַ בְּשַׂ֥ר הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ מֵעוֹלָ֑ם וְלֹ֥א נִרְאָ֨ה זְב֜וּב בְּבֵ֣ית הַמִּטְבְּחַ֗יִם וְלֹא֩ אֵרַ֨ע קֶרִ֜י לְכֹהֵ֣ן גָּדוֹל֮ בְּי֣וֹם הַכִּפּוּרִ֒ים וְלֹא֞ כִבּ֨וּ גְשָׁמִ֤ים אֵשׁ֙ שֶׁלַעֲצֵ֣י הַמַּעֲרָכָ֔ה וְלֹא־נָצְחָ֥ה הָר֖וּחַ אֶת־עַמּ֥וּד הֶעָשָֽׁן׃ וְלֹא־נִמְצָ֥א פְס֖וּל בָּעֹ֑מֶר וּבִשְׁתֵּ֥י הַלֶּ֖חֶם וּבְלֶחֶ֥ם הַפָּנִֽים׃ עוֹמְדִ֤ים צְפוּפִים֙ וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִ֣ים רְוָחִ֔ים וְלֹ֧א הִזִּ֛יק נָחָ֥שׁ וְעַקְרָ֖ב בִּירוּשָׁלַ֣יִם מֵעוֹלָ֑ם וְלֹ֥א אָמַ֨ר אָדָ֜ם לַחֲבֵ֗רוֹ צַ֨ר לִ֧י הַמָּק֛וֹם שֶׁאָלִ֖ין בִּירוּשָׁלַֽיִם׃
Ten miracles were done for our fathers in the Beit Hamiqdash: no woman miscarried from the scent of the sacrificial meat; the sacrificial meat never became putrid; no fly was seen in the slaughter-house; no unclean accident ever happened to the high priest on Yom Kippur; the rain never extinguished the fire of the wood-pile [on the altar, which was under the open sky]; the wind did not prevail against the column of smoke [from the altar-fire, so that the smoke was not blown downward]; no disqualifying defect was ever found in the Omer [of new barley, offered on the second day of Passover], or in the two loaves [baked of the First Fruits of the wheat-harvest and offered up on Shavuot], or in the Leḥem haPanim/bread of the Presence [which was changed weekly, on the Shabbat]; though the people stood closely pressed together, they found ample space to prostrate themselves [in the Temple courtyard]; never did a serpent or scorpion do injury in Yerushalayim; and no man ever said to his fellow: ‘I have not room to lodge overnight in Yerushalayim.’
עֲשָׂרָה֙ דְבָרִ֔ים נִבְרְא֛וּ בְעֶ֥רֶב שַׁבָּ֖ת בֵּ֣ין הַשְּׁמָשׁ֑וֹת וְאֵ֖לּו הֵֽן׃ פִּ֣י ׀ הָאָ֗רֶץ וּפִ֤י הַבְּאֵר֙ וּפִ֣י הָאָת֔וֹן וְהַקֶּ֖שֶׁת וְהַמָּ֑ן וְהַמַּטֶּ֧ה וְהַשָּׁמִ֛יר וְהַכְּתָ֥ב וְהַמִּכְתָּ֖ב וְהַלּוּחֽוֹת׃ וְיֵ֧שׁ אוֹמְרִ֛ים אַ֖ף הַמַּזִּיקִ֑ין וּקְבוּרָתוֹ֙ שֶׁ֣לְּמֹשֶׁ֔ה וְאֵיל֖וֹ שֶׁלְּאַבְרָהָ֥ם אָבִֽינוּ׃ וְיֵ֖שׁ אוֹמְרִ֑ים אַ֥ף צְבַ֖ת בִּצְבַ֥ת עֲשׁוּיָֽה׃
Ten things were created on the eve of the Shabbat at twilight: the mouth of the earth [which engulfed Qoraḥ]; the mouth of the well [which supplied the Yisraelites with water in the Midbar] (Exodus 17:6); the mouth of the donkey [which spoke to Bil’am] (Numbers 22:28); the rainbow [given as a sign after the Flood] (Genesis 9:13-14); the manna [dropped from Heaven in the Midbar]; the rod [of Mosheh] (Exodus 4:17); the shamir [employed for splitting stones at the building of the Temple] (Sotah 48b); the script on the two tablets of the Decalogue, the tools for writing, and the shape of the written characters; the engraving instrument; and the tablets of stone (Exodus 32:15-16). Some include also the sheydim (animistic spirits), the grave of Mosheh (Deuteronomy 34:16); and the ram of our father Avraham [offered in place of Yitsḥaq] (Genesis 22:13); others include also the original tongs, for tongs can be made only by means of tongs.
שִׁבְעָ֥ה דְבָרִ֖ים בַּגֹּלֶ֑ם וְשִׁבְעָ֖ה בֶחָכָֽם׃ הֶחָכָ֨ם אֵינ֧וּ מְדַבֵּ֛ר לִפְנֵי־מִ֥י שֶׁה֖וּא גָּד֣וֹל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ וְאֵינ֤וּ נִכְנָס֙ לְת֣וֹךְ דִּבְרֵ֣י חֲבֵר֔וֹ וְאֵינ֥וּ נִבְהָ֖ל לְהָשִֽׁיב׃ שׁוֹאֵ֥ל כָּעִנְיָ֖ן וּמֵשִׁ֣יב כַּהֲלָכָ֑ה וְאוֹמֵ֤ר עַל־רִאשׁוֹן֙ ׀ רִאשׁ֔וֹן וְעַל־אַחֲר֖וֹן ׀ אַחֲרֽוֹן׃ וְעַל־מַה֙ שֶּׁלֹּ֣א שָׁמַ֔ע אוֹמֵ֕ר לֹ֖א שָׁמַ֑עְתִּי וּמוֹדֶ֣ה עַל־הָאֱמֶ֔ת וְחִלּוּפֵיהֶ֖ן בַּגֹּלֶֽם׃
There are seven characteristics of an unrefined person (lit. golem), and seven of a wise man. The wise man does not speak in the presence of one who is greater than he in wisdom; he does not interrupt the speech of his companion; he is not hasty to answer; he questions and answers properly, to the point; he speaks on the first point first, and on the last point last; regarding that which he has not learnt he says: ‘I have not learnt’; and he acknowledges the truth. The opposites of these traits are to be found in an unrefined person.
שִׁבְעָ֤ה מִינֵי֙ פֻרְעָ֣נִיּ֔וֹת בָּאִ֖ין לָעוֹלָ֑ם עַל־שִׁבְעָ֖ה גוּפֵ֥י עֲבֵרָֽה׃ מִקְצָתָ֤ן מְעַשְּׂרִין֙ וּמִקְצָתָן֙ אֵינָ֣ן מְעַשְּׂרִ֔ין רָעָ֖ב שֶׁלַּבַּצֹּ֣רֶת בָּ֑א מִקְצָתָ֥ן רְעֵבִ֖ים וּמִקְצָתָ֥ן שְׂבֵעִֽים׃ גָּמְר֖וּ שֶׁלֹּ֣א לְעַשֵּׂ֑ר רָ֚עָב שֶׁ֣לִּמְהוּמָ֔ה וְשֶׁ֥לַּבַּצֹּ֖רֶת בָּֽא׃ שֶׁלֹּ֥א לִטּ֖וֹל אֶ֣ת־הַחַלָּ֑ה רָעָ֥ב שֶׁלְּכַלָּיָ֖ה בָֽא׃ דֶּ֗בֶר בָּ֚א לָעוֹלָ֔ם עַ֤ל הַמִּיתוֹת֙ הָאֲמוּר֣וֹת בַּתּוֹרָ֔ה שֶׁלֹּ֥א נִמְסְר֖וּ לְבֵ֣ית דִּ֑ין וְעַ֥ל פֵּר֖וֹת שְׁבִיעִֽית׃ חֶ֗רֶב בָּאָה֙ לָעוֹלָ֔ם עַל־עִנּ֥וּי הַדִּ֖ין וְעַל־עִוּ֣וּת הַדִּ֑ין וְעַ֛ל הַמּוֹרִ֥ים בַּתּוֹרָ֖ה שֶׁלֹּ֥א כַהֲלָכָֽה׃ חַיָּ֥ה רָעָ֖ה בָאָ֣ה לָעוֹלָ֑ם עַ֚ל שְׁבוּעַ֣ת שָׁ֔וְא וְעַ֕ל חִלּ֖וּל הַשֵּֽׁם׃ גָּל֖וּת בָּאָ֣ה לָעוֹלָ֑ם עַ֣ל־עוֹבְדֵ֣י ׀ עֲבוֹדָ֣ה זָרָ֗ה וְעַל־גִּלּ֤וּי עֲרָיוֹת֙ וְעַל־שְׁפִיכ֣וּת דָּמִ֔ים וְעַ֥ל הַשְׁמָטַ֖ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
Seven kinds of punishment come to the world for seven capital transgressions. When some people give tithes and others do not, there comes a famine from lack of rain; then some go hungry and others have plenty. If all have decided not to give tithes, there comes a famine from panic of war and drought; if they have further resolved not to set apart the dough-cake [for the priest], there comes a famine of extermination. Pestilence comes to the world to inflict those death penalties mentioned in the Torah, the execution of which is not within the function of a human tribunal, and for making forbidden use of the harvest of the Shemitah year. The sword comes to the world for the suppression [or delay] of justice, and for the perversion of justice, and on account of those who misinterpret the Torah. Dangerous wild creatures come to the world on account of perjury, and for the shaming of the divine name. Exile comes to the world on account of idolatry, incest, bloodshed, and for not allowing the soil to rest in the Shemitah year.
בְּאַרְבָּעָ֥ה פְרָקִ֖ים הַדֶּ֣בֶר מִתְרַבֶּ֑ה בָּרְבִיעִ֤ית וּבַשְּׁבִיעִית֙ וּבְמוֹצָאֵ֣י שְׁבִיעִ֔ית וּבְמוֹצָאֵ֥י הֶחָ֖ג שֶׁבְּכׇל־שָׁנָ֥ה וְשָׁנָֽה׃ בָּרְבִיעִית מִפְּנֵ֨י מַעְשַׂ֤ר עׇ֨נִי֙ שֶׁבַּ֣שְּׁלִישִׁ֔ית בַּשְּׁבִיעִ֕ית מִפְּנֵ֛י מַעְשַׂ֥ר עׇ֖נִי שֶׁבַּשִּׁשִּׁ֑ית וּבְמוֹצָאֵ֤י שְׁבִיעִית֙ מִפְּנֵי֙ פֵר֣וֹת שְׁבִיעִ֔ית וּבְמוֹצָאֵ֤י הֶחָג֙ שֶׁבְּכׇל־שָׁנָ֣ה וְשָׁנָ֔ה מִפְּנֵ֥י גֶ֖זֶל מַתְּנ֥וֹת עֲנִיִּֽים׃
At four periods pestilence increases: in the fourth year, in the seventh [Shemitah] year, in the year following the Shemitah year, and at the conclusion of Sukkot in every year. In the fourth year, for having failed to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the third year; in the seventh year, for having failed to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the sixth year; in the year following the Shemitah year, for having made forbidden use of the harvest of the Shemitah year; at the conclusion of the Sukkot in every year, for having robbed the gifts assigned to the poor [in the course of the whole agricultural year].
אַרְבַּ֥ע מִדּ֖וֹת בָּאָדָֽם׃ הָאוֹמֵ֞ר שֶׁלִּ֤י שֶׁלִּי֙ וְשֶׁלָּ֣ךְ שֶׁלָּ֔ךְ ז֖וֹ מִדָּ֣ה בֵינוֹנִ֑ית וְיֵ֧שׁ אוֹמְרִ֛ים זוֹ֖ מִדַּ֥ת סְדֽוֹם׃ שֶׁלִּ֥י שֶׁלָּ֖ךְ וְשֶׁלָּ֣ךְ שֶׁלִּ֑י עַ֖ם הָאָֽרֶץ׃ שֶׁלִּ֥י שֶׁלָּ֖ךְ וְשֶׁלָּ֣ךְ שֶׁלָּ֑ךְ חָ֖סִֽיד׃ שֶׁלָּ֥ךְ שֶׁלִּ֖י וְשֶׁלִּ֣י שֶׁלִּ֑י רָ֖שָֽׁע׃
There are four characters among men: He who says: ‘What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours’ is the average type, though some say this is a Sodom-type; he who says: ‘What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine’ is ignorant; he who says: ‘What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours’ is a ḥasid; he who says: ‘What is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine’ is wicked.
אַרְבַּ֥ע מִדּ֖וֹת בַּדֵּעוֹת׃ נ֤וֹחַ לִכְעֹס֙ וְנ֣וֹחַ לִרְצ֔וֹת יָצָ֥א שְׂכָר֖וֹ בְהֶפְסֵד֑וֹ קָשֶׁ֤ה לִכְעֹס֙ וְקָשֶׁ֣ה לִרְצ֔וֹת יָצָ֥א הֶפְסֵ֖דוֹ בִשְׂכָרֽוֹ׃ קָשֶׁ֨ה לִכְעֹ֜ס וְנ֣וֹחַ לִרְצ֗וֹת חָסִ֕יד נ֧וֹחַ לִכְעֹ֛ס וְקָשֶׁ֥ה לִרְצ֖וֹת רָשָֽׁע׃
There are four kinds of dispositions: Easy to become angry and easy to be pacified, his loss is compensated by his gain; hard to become angry and hard to be pacified, his gain is offset by his loss; hard to become angry and easy to be pacified is a Ḥasid; easy to become angry and hard to be pacified is wicked.
אַרְבַּ֥ע מִדּ֖וֹת בַּתַּלְמִידִֽים׃ מַהֵ֤ר לִשְׁמ֨וֹעַ֙ וּמַהֵ֣ר לְאַבֵּ֔ד יָצָ֥א שְׂכָר֖וֹ בְהֶפְסֵד֑וֹ קָשֶׁ֤ה לִשְׁמ֨וֹעַ֙ וְקָשֶׁ֣ה לְאַבֵּ֔ד יָצָ֥א הֶפְסֵ֖דוֹ בִשְׂכָרֽוֹ׃ מַהֵ֤ר לִשְׁמ֨וֹעַ֙ וְקָשֶׁ֣ה לְאַבֵּ֔ד חָ֖כָ֑ם קָשֶׁ֨ה לִשְׁמ֜וֹעַ וּמַהֵ֣ר לְאַבֵּ֗ד זֶ֛ה חֵ֖לֶק רָֽע׃
There are four types of students: Quick to learn and quick to forget, his gain is offset by his loss; slow to learn and slow to forget, his loss is compensated by his gain; quick to learn and slow to forget is the best quality; slow to learn and quick to forget is the worst quality.
אַרְבַּ֥ע מִדּ֖וֹת בְּנוֹתְנֵ֥י צְדָקָֽה׃ רוֹצֶה֙ שֶׁיִּתֵּ֔ן וְלֹ֥א יִתְּנ֖וּ אֲחֵרִ֑ים עֵינ֥וֹ רָעָ֖ה בְשֶׁ֣לַּאֲחֵרִֽים׃ יִּתְּנ֣וּ אֲחֵרִ֔ים וְה֥וּא לֹ֖א יִתֵּ֑ן עֵינ֥וֹ רָעָ֖ה בְשֶׁלּֽוֹ׃ יִּתֵּן֙ וְיִתְּנ֣וּ אֲחֵרִ֔ים חָ֖סִ֑יד לֹ֤א יִתֵּן֙ וְלֹ֣א יִתְּנ֣וּ אֲחֵרִ֔ים רָ֖שָֽׁע׃
There are four types of donors to charity: He who desires to give that others should not give begrudges the privilege of others; he who desires that others should give but will not give himself is greedy; he who gives and wishes others to give is a Ḥasid; he who will not give and does not wish others to give is wicked.
אַרְבַּ֣ע מִדּ֔וֹת בְּהוֹלְכֵ֖י לְבֵ֥ית הַמִּדְרָֽשׁ׃ הוֹלֵ֣ךְ ׀ וְאֵינ֣וֹ עוֹשֶׂ֗ה שְׂכַר֙ הֲלִיכָ֣ה בְיָד֔וֹ עוֹשֶׂ֨ה וְאֵינ֧וֺ הוֹלֵ֛ךְ שְׂכַ֥ר מַעֲשֶׂ֖ה בְיָד֑וֹ הוֹלֵ֤ךְ וְעוֹשֶׂה֙ חָסִ֔יד לֹא־הוֹלֵ֥ךְ וְלֹא־עוֹשֶׂ֖ה רָשָׁ֑ע׃
There are four types of those who attend school: He who attends and does not practice [the teachings of the school] secures the reward for attending; he who practices [leads a good life] but does not attend [to acquire knowledge] secures the reward for practicing; he who attends and practices is a Ḥasid; he who neither attends nor practices is wicked.
אַרְבַּ֣ע מִדּ֔וֹת בְּיוֹשְׁבִ֖ים לִפְנֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֑ים סְפ֥וֹג וּמַשְׁפֵּ֖ךְ וּמְשַׁמֶּ֥רֶת וְנָפָֽה׃ סְפוֹג֙ שֶׁה֣וּא סוֹפֵ֣ג אֶת־הַכֹּ֔ל מַשְׁפֵּ֛ךְ שֶׁמַּכְנִ֥יס בָּז֖וֹ וּמוֹצִ֣יא בָ֑זוֹ מְ֠שַׁמֶּ֠רֶת שֶׁ֨מּוֹצִיאָ֤ה אֶת־הַיַּ֨יִן֙ וְקוֹלֶ֣טֶת אֶת־הַשְּׁמָרִ֔ים וְנָפָ֛ה שֶׁמּוֹצִיאָ֥ה אֶת־הַקֶּ֖מַח וְקוֹלֶ֥טֶת אֶת־הַסֹּֽלֶת׃
There are four types of those who sit before scholars: A sponge, a funnel, a strainer, and a sieve. A sponge absorbs all; a funnel receives at one end and lets out at the other; a strainer lets out the wine and retains the dregs; a sieve lets out the flour dust and retains the fine flour.
כׇּל־אַהֲבָ֗ה שֶׁהִיא֙ תְּלוּיָ֣ה בְדָבָ֔ר בָּטֵ֥ל דָּבָ֖ר וּבְטֵלָ֣ה אַהֲבָ֑ה וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ֙ תְּלוּיָ֣ה בְדָבָ֔ר אֵינָ֥ה בְטֵלָ֖ה לְעוֹלָֽם׃ אֵ֨י־ז֨וֹ הִ֤יא אַהֲבָה֙ התְּלוּיָ֣ה בְדָבָ֔ר ז֥וֹ אַהֲבַ֖ת אַמְנ֥וֹן וְתָמָ֑ר וְשֶׁאֵינָה֙ תְלוּיָ֣ה בְדָבָ֔ר ז֥וֹ אַהֲבַ֖ת דָּוִ֥ד וִיהוֹנָתָֽן׃
All love which depends on sensual attraction will pass away as soon as the sensual attraction disappears; but if it is not dependent on sensual attraction, it will never pass away. Which love was dependent on sensual attraction? The love of Amnon and Tamar. And which depended on nothing selfish? The love of David and Yonatan.
כׇּ֣ל מַחֲלֹ֗וקֶת שֶׁהִיא֙ לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם סוֹפָ֖הּ לְהִתְקַיֵּ֑ם וְשֶׁאֵינָה֙ לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם אֵ֥ין סוֹפָ֖הּ לְהִתְקַיֵּֽם׃ אֵיז֣וֹ ׀ הִ֣יא מַחֲלֹ֗וקֶת שֶׁהִיא֙ לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם ז֥וֹ מַחֲלֹ֖וקֶת הִלֵּ֣ל וְשַׁמַּ֑אי וְשֶׁאֵינָה֙ לְשֵׁ֣ם שָׁמַ֔יִם זוֹ֛ מַחֲל֥וֹקֶת קֹ֖רַח וְכׇל־עֲדָתֽוֹ׃
Any controversy which is in the name of Heaven [from sincere motive] is destined to result in something permanent; any controversy which is not in the name of Heaven will never result in anything permanent. Which controversy was in the name of Heaven? The controversy between Hillel and Shammai. And which was not in the name of Heaven? The controversy of Qoraḥ and all his company.
כׇּל־הַ֤מְזַכֶּה֙ אֶת־הָ֣רַבִּ֔ים אֵין־חֵ֥טְא בָּ֖א עַ֣ל יָד֑וֹ וְכׇל־הַ֤מַּחֲטִיא֙ אֶת־הָ֣רַבִּ֔ים אֵין־מַסְפִּיקִ֥ין בְּיָד֖וֹ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת תְּשׁוּבָֽה׃ מֹשֶׁ֤ה זָכָה֙ וְזִכָּ֣ה אֶת־הָרַבִּ֔ים וּזְכ֥וּת הָרַבִּ֖ים תָּל֣וּי בּ֑וֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר צִדְקַ֤ת יְהֹוָה֙ עָשָׂ֔ה וּמִשְׁפָּטָ֖יו עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ יָֽרׇבְעָ֤ם חָטָא֙ וְהֶחֱטִ֣יא אֶת־הָרַבִּ֔ים וְחֵ֥טְא הָרַבִּ֖ים תָּל֣וּי בּ֑וֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר עַל־חַטֹּ֤אות יָֽרׇבְעָם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָטָ֔א וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶחֱטִ֖יא אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
Whoever leads the people to righteousness, no transgression shall occur through him; whoever leads the people to sin shall not be enabled to repent. Mosheh was righteous and led the people to righteousness, hence the merit of the people is attributed to him, as it is said: ‘He performed the justice of YHVH, and his ordinances with Yisrael.'[3] Deuteronomy 33:21.  Yarov’am, the son of Nebat, sinned and caused others to sin, hence the sin of the people is attributed to him, as it is said: ‘For the sins of Yarov’am which he sinned and caused Yisrael to sin.'[4] I Kings 15:30. 
כׇּל־מִ֣י ׀ שֶׁיֵּ֣שׁ בְּיָד֗וֹ שְׁלשָׁ֤ה דְבָרִים֙ הַלָּ֔לוּ מִתַּלְמִידָ֖יו שֶׁלְּאַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֑ינוּ וּשְׁלשָׁ֤ה דְבָרִים֙ אֲחֵרִ֔ים מִתַּ֣לְמִידָ֔יו שֶׁלְּבִּלְעָ֖ם הָרָֽשָׁע׃ עַ֨יִן טוֹבָ֜ה וְר֤וּחַ נְמוּכָה֙ וְנֶ֣פֶשׁ שְׁפָלָ֔ה מִתַּלְמִידָ֖יו שֶׁלְּאַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֑ינוּ עַ֨יִן רָעָ֜ה וְר֤וּחַ גְּבוֹהָה֙ וְנֶ֣פֶשׁ רְחָבָ֔ה מִתַּ֣לְמִידָ֔יו שֶׁלְּבִּלְעָ֖ם הָרָֽשָׁע׃ מַ֚ה בֵּ֣ין תַּלְמִידָ֔יו שֶׁלְּאַבְרָהָ֖ם אָבִ֑ינוּ לְתַלְמִידָ֖יו שֶׁלְּבִלְעָ֥ם הָרָֽשָׁע׃ תַּלְמִידָ֣יו ׀ שֶׁלְּאַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֗ינוּ אוֹכְלִין֙ בָּעוֹלָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְנוֹחֲלִ֖ין בָּעוֹלָ֣ם הַבָּ֑א שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר לְהַנְחִיל֙ אֹהֲבַ֣י יֵ֔שׁ וְאֹצְרֹֽתֵיהֶ֖ם אֲמַלֵּֽא׃ אֲבָל֙ תַּלְמִידָ֔יו שֶׁלְּבִלְעָ֖ם הָרָ֑שָׁע יוֹרְשִׁין֙ גֵּיהִנֹּ֔ם וְיוֹרְדִ֖ין לִבְאֵ֥ר שַֽׁחַת׃ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַ֕ר וְאַתָּ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ תּוֹרִדֵ֔ם לִבְאֵ֖ר שַׁחַ֑ת אַנְשֵׁ֨י דָמִ֤ים וּמִרְמָה֙ לֹא־יֶחֱצ֣וּ יְמֵיהֶ֔ם וַאֲנִ֖י אֶבְטַ֥ח בָּֽךְ׃
Whoever possesses the following three qualities is of the disciples of our father Avraham; whoever possesses the opposite three qualities is of the disciples of the wicked Bil’am. Those who belong to the disciples of our father Avraham possess a good eye [generous nature], a humble spirit, and a modest desire. Those who belong to the disciples of the wicked Bil’am possess an evil eye [an exploitative and predatory gaze], a haughty spirit, and an excessive desire [for wealth]. What is the difference between the disciples of our father Avraham and the disciples of the wicked Bil’am? The disciples of our father Avraham enjoy this world and inherit the World to Come, as it is said: ‘Endowing my friends with wealth, I fill their treasures.'[5] Proverbs 8:21.  But the disciples of the wicked Bil’am inherit Gehinnom and descend into the nethermost pit, as it is said: ‘You, Elohim, will bring them down into the nethermost pit; men of blood and fraud shall not live out half their days; as for me, I trust in you.'[6] Psalm 55:24. 
יְהוּדָ֥ה בֶן־תֵּימָ֖א אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֱוֵ֣י ׀ עַ֣ז כַּנָּ֗מֵר וְקַ֤ל כַּנֶּ֨שֶׁר֙ וְרָ֣ץ כַּצְּבִ֔י וְגִבּ֖וֹר כָּאֲרִ֑י לַעֲשׁ֛וֹת רְצ֖וֹן אָבִ֥יךָ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ ה֥וּא הָיָ֖ה אוֹמֵֽר׃ עַ֥ז פָּ֖נִים לְגֵיהִנָּ֑ם וּבֹ֥שֶׁת פָּנִ֖ים לְגַ֥ן עֵֽדֶן׃ יְהִ֣י ׀ רָצ֣וֹן מִלְּפָנֶ֗יךָ יהו֤ה אֱלֹהֵ֨ינוּ֙ וֵאלֹהֵ֣י אֲבוֹתֵ֔ינוּ שֶׁתִּבְנֶ֥ה עִירָ֖ךְ בִּמְהֵרָ֣ה בְיָמֵ֑ינוּ וְתֵ֥ן חֶלְקֵ֖נוּ בְתוֹרָתֶֽךָ׃
Yehudah ben Tema said: “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to do the will of your Father who is in Heaven.” He used to say: “The impudent is destined for Gehinnom, but the shamefaced is destined for Gan Aden. May it be your will, YHVH our elo’ah and elo’ah of our ancestors, that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and grant us a share in your Torah.”
ה֥וּא הָיָ֖ה אוֹמֵֽר׃
בֶּ֥ן חָמֵ֨שׁ שָׁנִ֜ים לַמִּקְרָ֗א
בֶּ֚ן עֶ֣שֶׂר לַמִּשְׁנָ֔ה
 
בֶּן־שְׁלֹ֥שׁ עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה לַמִּצְו֑וֹת
בֶּ֨ן חֲמֵ֤שׁ עֶשְׂרֵה֙ לַתַּלְמ֔וּד
 
בֶּן־שְׁמוֹנֶ֥ה עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה לַחֻפָּֽה׃
בֶּן־עֶשְׂרִ֨ים לִרְדּ֜וֹף
 
בֶּן־שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים לַכֹּ֗חַ
בֶּ֨ן אַרְבָּעִ֤ים לַבִּינָה֙
 
בֶּן־חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים לָעֵצָ֔ה
בֶּ֛ן שִׁשִּׁ֥ים לַזִּקְנָ֖ה
 
בֶּן־שִׁבְעִ֣ים לַשֵּׂבָ֑ה
בֶּ֨ן שְׁמוֹנִ֤ים לַגְּבוּרָה֙
 
בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֣ים לָשׁ֔וּחַ
בֶּ֥ן מֵאָה֙ כְאִ֣לּוּ מֵ֔ת
וְעָבַ֥ר וּבָטֵ֖ל מִן־הָעוֹלָֽם׃
He used to say:
“At five years the age is reached for the study of the Miqra (Scripture),
at ten for the study of Mishnah,
 
at thirteen for the fulfillment of the commandments,
at fifteen for the study of Talmud,
 
at eighteen for marriage,
at twenty for seeking a livelihood,
 
at thirty for full strength,
at forty for understanding,
 
at fifty for giving counsel;
at sixty a man attains old age,
 
at seventy white old age,
at eighty rare old age;
 
at ninety he is bending over the grave;
at a hundred he is as if he were already dead
and had passed away from the world.”
בֶּ֛ן בַּג־בַּ֖ג אוֹמֵֽר׃ הֲפֹךְ־בָּ֥הּ וְהַפֵּךְ־בָּ֖הּ דְּכֹ֣לָּא בָ֑הּ וּבָ֣הּ תֶּחֱזֵ֗י וְסִ֨יב וּבְלֵ֤ה בָהּ֙ וּמֶנַּהּ֙ לָ֣א תְז֔וּעַ שֶׁאֵ֧ין לָ֛ךְ מִדָּ֥ה טוֹבָ֖ה הֵימֶֽנָּה׃
ben Bag-Bag said: “Study the Torah again and again, for everything is contained in it; constantly examine it, grow old and gray over it, and swerve not from it, for there is nothing more excellent than it.”
בֶּ֛ן הֵא־הֵ֖א אוֹמֵ֑ר לְפ֥וּם צַ֖עֲרָא אַֽגְרָא:
ben He-He said: According to the effort is the reward.
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.'[7] 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

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Notes

Notes
1 Isaiah 60:21.
2 Numbers 14:22
3 Deuteronomy 33:21.
4 I Kings 15:30.
5 Proverbs 8:21.
6 Psalm 55:24.
7 Isaiah 42:21.

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