Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wisdom of the Rabbis in 48 steps

In Pirkei Avot - a compilation of rabbinic wisdom and teaching in Chapter 6: Section 6 we read:

"Torah is great than the Priesthood, than kingship, for Kingship is acquired through 30 steps, the Priesthood through 24 steps and the Torah/Torah is acquired through 48 steps and these are they..."

I am going to include a listing here based on a translation by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, my first order of business will be some work on this translation but each week I am going to focus on one of these qualities and study of it. Does it still work for us today? What value, principle can we learn from the form and how can we work on sharpening that quality in our daily life? How does it really help us to "acquire Torah"?

Without further ado...48 steps these are they:

1. Study

2. Attentive listening

3. Well-ordered speech

4. Intuitive understanding

5. A discerning mind

6. Awe

7. Reverence

8. Humility

9. Joy

10. Serving the wise

11. Association with colleagues

12. Debate with students

13. Serenity

14. Knowledge of Scripture and Mishnah

15. Minimizing time spent on business

16. Minimizing worldly matters

17. Minimizing pleasure

18. Minimizing sleep

19. Minimizing small talk

20. Patience

21. A kindly heart

22. Faith in the Sages

23. Acceptance of suffering

24. Knowing one's place

25. Being happy with one's lot

26. Restraining one's words

27. Claiming no credit for oneself

28. Being loved

29. Loving God

30. Loving human beings

31. Loving righteousness

32. Loving justice

33. Loving admonishment

34. Shunning honors

35. Avoiding arrogance in one's learning or delight in giving decisions

36. Sharing someone else's burden

37. Giving a person the benefit of the doubt

38. Guiding other human beings to truth

39. Guiding other human beings to peace

40. Concentrating on one's study

41. Asking questions

42. Answering questions

43. Listening and adding to one's knowledge

44. Learning in order to teach

45. Learning in order to do

46. Making one's teacher wise

47. Being precise in one's studies

48. Reporting a saying in the name of the one who said it

Some questions to think about for now:

- Most interesting one?
- Most challenging? Problematic?
- One you are most passionate about?

Signing off for now.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I find it interesting that being precise in studies is so far down the list. How does this jibe with a good knowledge of Mishnah if your knowledge is not precise?