In this new edition of the well-known Jewish classic, Berkson helps us see that Pirke Avot
(Ethics of the Fathers) is more than just a fundamental religious text; it is also a compelling, contemporary ethical guide.
Further along in Pirke Avot, he is quoted as saying the following: "This world is like a vestibule ([HEBREW TEXT OMITTED]) to the world to come; prepare yourself in the vestibule that you may enter into the (banqueting-) hall" (4:16).
His "anti-this-worldliness" stems from considerations very different from those of Rabbi Ya'akov's, but our mishna from Pirke Avot dovetails with his value-system as well.
Yosef Chayyim ben Yitzchak Caro, Minchat Shabbat (Solet LeMincha), Hebrew, commentary to Pirke Avot, Krotoshin, 1847, ad loc.
Being pan of the community, consciously associating with fellow Jews, is one of the maxims in Pirke Avot (2:4), attributed to the sage Hillel.
Another saying of Hillel's was to "strive to be a decent person," especially in a society which lacked many such role models (Pirke Avot 2.5).
Jacob Neusner, Torah From Our Sages, Pirke Avot
(Chappaqua, N.Y.: Rossell Books, 1984), touches on this but does not go far enough in his remark, "That is, his message is that priests should be more like rabbis" (p.
Yannai, that "we cannot understand the flourishing of the wicked, nor the suffering of the righteous" (Pirke Avot
, 4: 19), Job is explicit or almost explicit about the latter.
Our intent is to clarify the position, concerning or related to these three cardinal pursuits, of Ben Zoma, a tanna (Talmudic sage) of the second century C.E., as expressed in Pirke Avot (translated as "Chapters of Fathers," or "The Wisdom of the Fathers").(5) The sayings of Ben Zoma, formulated in the terse and pithy manner characteristic of Pirke Avot, are parallel or closely related to the above statements of Plato and Aristotle, though the conclusions need not be identical.
The exhortations of the Sages in Pirke Avot insist on the wisdom of the Torah and on the guidance to this wisdom provided the rabbis.