|Insights for Introductory Mishnah
"...In which to take pride."
Since every Jew’s soul is an actual
part of G-d, each and every Jew — man, woman, and child — praises G-d by virtue
of his very existence. “Even the sinners of Israel are filled with mitzvos as
a pomegranate is filled with seeds.”
This teaching serves as an introduction
to each chapter of Pirkei Avot because Pirkei Avot focuses on ethical development
and personal refinement. When one becomes aware of the essential G-dly core of
every individual, one appreciates: a) the necessity to refine oneself so that
this essential quality can be expressed, and b) that every individual, regardless
of his present level of development, has the potential to achieve such refinement.
Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
Jew has a part
The mishna does not state 'all of Klal Yisrael
will merit a portion in the World to Come, but rather is says "yesh"
- they presently enjoy a portion in Olam HaBa. Olam HaBa -- The World to
Come is not merely relegated to the distant future but rather is something that
very much exists in the present. Almost innately, every Jew is assured of a portion
in Olam HaBa which can only be fortified as a result of committing certain grave
The fact that Olam HaBa is almost an innate right of every Jew is not
only comforting but also helps us appreciate the gravity of those sins which could
cause us (Heaven forefend) to forfeit our portion in the World to Come. By committing
such heinous aveirot, we are not merely giving up a promised reward but are also
yielding something that is already in our hands.
Sfas Emes (6)
a part to [in] the World to Come"
It is significant that the mishna
does not say, in the World to Come, which would refer to the eventual reward
attained after our life on earth. Instead, it says to the World to Come.
Even in This World, every action of the Jew is blessed with the aura of Olam HaBa.
This Divine gift is not always apparent. However, if one penetrates beneath the
surface one detects a certain sanctity in every deed of the Torah-true Jew. This
inner kedusha is derived from the sacred radiance of the World to Come that is
enjoyed in some small measure in This World. In fact, the primary purpose of man's
creation is that by virtue of his proper conduct he can elicit the latent Divine
Spark that propels this material world. By doing so he can in some measure help
to perfect the world.
Maggidei HaEmes (6)
are the stem of My plantings..."
The stem is that straight, vertical
branch which first comes out of the ground, before it develops side branches that
extent in different directions. Eternity is symbolized by the straight and true,
and hence the nation of Israel is called the "stem of my plantings,"
for it is directed towards G-d. That early trunk is the primary structure of the
tree and it defines the direction of a tree's growth. This metaphor contrasts
Israel with the other nations who, like side branches turning from the trunk,
become sidetracked from the quest for eternity.
in which to take pride."
A finite creation such as this world does
not adequately reflect G-d's greatness. Only the eternal World to Come can evince
the perfection of the eternal Creator. Since Israel completes the World to Come,
as its primary citizens, they are a principal part of that world's tribute to
Maharal of Prague: Pirkei Avos by Tuvia Basser (Mesorah)
Insights for Concluding Mishnah
make the people of Israel meritorious…”
Lezakot, translated as ‘to make
meritorious’, also means ‘to refine’. The goal of the Torah and its mitzvos is
to refine the Jewish people. This intention is manifest in Pirkei Avot,
which teaches us to lift our ethical conduct above the limits of human wisdom
and cultivate it according to G-d’s desire.