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PIRKEI AVOT 3:10 – WALK, STAND AND SIT

בס”ד

Pirkei Avot 3:10

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, כָּל שֶׁרוּחַ הַבְּרִיּוֹת נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ, רוּחַ הַמָּקוֹם נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ. וְכָל שֶׁאֵין רוּחַ הַבְּרִיּוֹת נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ, אֵין רוּחַ הַמָּקוֹם נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ. רַבִּי דוֹסָא בֶן הַרְכִּינַס אוֹמֵר, שֵׁנָה שֶׁל שַׁחֲרִית, וְיַיִן שֶׁל צָהֳרַיִם, וְשִׂיחַת הַיְלָדִים, וִישִׁיבַת בָּתֵּי כְנֵסִיּוֹת שֶׁל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ, מוֹצִיאִין אֶת הָאָדָם מִן הָעוֹלָם

He used to say: one with whom men are pleased, G-d is pleased. But anyone from whom men are displeased, G-d is displeased. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas said: morning sleep, midday wine, children’s talk and sitting in the assemblies of the ignorant put a man out of the world.

It is important that we develop our attributes of kindness, helpfulness, generosity, and modesty so that those around us find us pleasant to deal with. G-d will be pleased with us if people are pleased with us for these reasons. The inverse is also true. G-d will become angry or unhappy if people notice undesirable characteristics in us. So we are able to use our fellow humans as a great mirror to see how we are progressing.

Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas recommends four factors to be aware of, points that can shorten our days in this world.

  1. Morning sleep: If you sleep in (too) long, you miss the quiet moment of the day to start the day together with G-d. How can you live a day according to His will, if you don’t first attach yourself to the Source of Life?

2. Midday wine: This wine leads to drunkenness. People who are drunk cannot spend their day usefully. All the time that could have been spent on work, good works, Torah etc. is lost forever.

3. Children’s talk: The cosy chatter of children cannot be wrong. Bartenura points out that these are children’s chatter that prevents their Jewish fathers from concentrating enough on their Torah studies. Perhaps we can extend that to proper child-rearing. Children are allowed to talk, play, make noise. But we should also teach them boundaries, norms and values.

4. Sitting in the assemblies of the ignorant: It reminds me of Psalm 1:1 and an explanation I read of that:

אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֢ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃

Praiseworthy is the man who walked not in de counsel of the wicked, and stood not in the path of the sinful, and sat not in the session of scorners[1].

Living in a non-Jewish or Noahide society exposes us to dissenting voices, which we should intentionally disregard. We do, however, come across them in our daily lives. You stroll for a short distance before continuing. You should not stay still because then you will not only listen to incorrect counsel, but it will become internalised and you will be able to apply it. Sin is always followed by consequences. Man sits down after all of his incorrect walking and standing. It accepts a false way of life and a misguided view of existence, which will eventually lead to the denial of Moses as the greatest prophet, the Torah, and G-d.

Walk in the counsel of the sages and rabbis, dwell on the teachings of Torah – the Seven Noahide Commandments, acknowledge G-d and praise His Name.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

[1] Artscroll

Texts: Sefaria.org

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