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Pirkei Avot 2:8 – Be Humble


Pirkei Avot 2:8

..בָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי קִבֵּל מֵהִלֵּל וּמִשַּׁמָּאי. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם לָמַדְתָּ תוֹרָה הַרְבֵּה, אַל תַּחֲזִיק טוֹבָה לְעַצְמְךָ, כִּי לְכָךְ נוֹצָרְתָּ

Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai received [the oral tradition] from Hillel and Shammai. He used to say: if you have learned much Torah, do not claim credit for yourself, because for such a purpose were you created. …

It is important for Israel to study Torah because if they did not, the world would not exist, which is the purpose of creation. If someone has studied a lot of Torah, he should not grow arrogant and think he is better than others, because he is merely doing what is expected of him, and his learning is not only for himself, but also for others to learn from.

Personally, I see two major learning elements for Noahides in this. It is important to find a good Rabbi who can teach you. People often worry how they can tell if they are listening to an appropriate Rabbi because there are so many, and Noahides frequently rely on the internet. I believe we may draw an essential criterion from this: a Rabbi who is humble and does not feel superior to others or place himself above the group, but who understands that his mission is to teach others, Jews or non-Jews, the 613 or 7 Commandments, depending on his calling.

The second lesson is that Noahides must learn to be humble. G-d has ordered us to follow the seven Noahide commandments, which we can only do if we study them. Some people find this easier than others. Some people have more resources, sources, teachers, and rabbis than others. We must recognize that what we teach is for the purpose of teaching others. Previous faiths taught that there is only one absolute truth – which, of course, that individual has – and that others must adapt to his “truth.” We must recognize that we are all in the process of learning and that we are all headed in the right direction. For some, it is a left turn, for others, it is a right turn, but in the end, it is only about one goal: making the world a habitable place for G-d, a world where law and justice reign, a world where people recognize that there is one G-d who desires a relationship with His creation, with man.

By Angelique Sijbolts


English Explanation of Pirkei Avot 2:8:2


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