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Pirkei Avot 1:2 – Torah, Temple Service and Kindness


Pirkei Avot 1:2

שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק הָיָה מִשְּׁיָרֵי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, עַל שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הָעוֹלָם עוֹמֵד, עַל הַתּוֹרָה וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה וְעַל גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים

Shimon the Righteous was one of the last of the men of the great assembly. He used to say: the world stands upon three things: the Torah, the Temple service, and the practice of acts of piety.

The Torah is the Written and Oral Torah that G-d passed on through Moses and then to the sages after him until today. From the Torah we can learn of G-d’s instructions are for our lives, allowing us to refine our attributes. Torah is the means of learning how to carry out our relationship with G-d and our relationships with others in a way and manner as G-d asks of us. It requires us to read and learn Torah – the 7 Noahides Commandments – regularly.

The Temple service is not there today. Jews can perform this foundation by learning and studying the laws and customs concerning Temple service.

Taking this foundation more broadly, “service” here refers to the service of prayer. That which we learn in Torah we must make into prayer.[1] That is, when we read something, we ask G-d to help us understand the text properly and our actions in practice may be in line with it. Also, prayer is the means of communication between man and G-d. It is the way of thanking and praising Him and bringing our needs to Him.

When through Torah reading and learning we have discovered what G-d asks of us and learned why we are here on earth and through prayer have asked G-d to help us perform our task we arrive at..

… Practice of acts of piety / kindness

How can we give what we have learned a practical expression towards others. This can be done in many ways. To think of:

we can give money, time, love, empathy, services, a listening ear, send an app, make a phone call, etc.

Let us all work on these 3 foundations on which the world stands so that we strengthen its foundations.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] Likutei Moharan  Part II 25:2
Pirkei Avot 1:2

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