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    The sun is shining and the outdoors is
    calling. Yet, it is precisely at this time,
    during the longer Shabbos afternoons, that
    we take time out to study Pirkei Avos, the
    Book of Ethics.
    Six chapters for the six Shabbosos between
    Pesach and Shavuos. The greatest
    preparation that we can do for Shavuos isn’t
    thinking about cheese cake and blintzes
    (which certainly enhance our Shavuos
    meals), but delving into the words of our
    Torah, and the teachings of Ethics.
    Derech Eretz kadmah laTorah, to be a
    mentch—a genuinely honest, ethical, good
    individual – is a prerequisite to living a
    Torah life. We prepare for our n’asseh
    v’nishmah – we will do and we will listen
    moment through the study of Ethics.
    We repeat the cycle again and again
    throughout the summer, as a preparation for
    Rosh Hashanah, our Day of Judgment. The
    Yom Tov when we stand before HaShem,
    hopefully being able to say that I worked on

    myself, this year was a year of self-

    There are so many “how to” books out there.
    Guides to having better relationships with
    spouses, parents, children, friends, even
    with one’s self. You name it, someone wrote
    a book about it. Unfortunately, we often
    neglect studying our own Book. My mother
    a”h would say how tragic it is that the
    Children of the Book turn to every book but
    their own.
    As Ben Bag-Bag says, “Hafoch bah,
    v’hafoch bah, d’kolah bah, Turn the pages,
    turn the pages, for it is all there”. It’s all
    there. We only have to open it. (Pirkei Avos,
    Pirkei Avos, Chapters of our Fathers. Who
    are the fathers of Ethics?
    Avos has multiple meanings. When we say
    avos, fathers, the first thing that comes to
    mind are our patriarchs. The Bnei Yissocher
    writes that indeed we are referring to
    Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov. We learn
    their story in Bereishis, also known as Sefer
    HaYashar, the Book of the Upright, the

    righteous ones. The love and compassion
    exemplified by our avos is our best guide
    for leading an ethical life.
    We are Bnei Yisroel. Each letter of the
    word Yisroel, spelled yud, shin, reish,
    aleph, lamed, is an acronym for our
    patriarchs and matriarchs. Yud – Yitzchak
    and Yaakov. Shin – Sarah. Reish – Rivkah
    and Rochel. Aleph – Avraham. Lamed –
    Leah. Their teachings are us. We are one
    with them.
    Avos – our teachers, advisors and mentors.
    Mishlei teaches “Shema b’ni mussar avicha,
    v’al titosh toras imecha, Listen my child to
    the words of your father, and do not forsake
    the teachings of your mother.” Anyone who
    gives over knowledge, passes down a
    mesorah, a way of living, becomes a
    spiritual parent. (Mishlei, 1:8)
    A Midrash is told of a neshamah that
    appeared before the heavenly court. “You
    have merit for three children”, a voice called
    out. “But I had ten” the soul protested. “You
    may have had ten, but some you ignored,
    and others you were short-tempered with,
    and yet another you didn’t even want.”
    Another soul stood before the heavenly

    court. “You have merit for two-hundred-
    and-fifty children” “Two-hundred-and-
    fifty? But I didn’t have any.” “Yes, but

    you taught so many. You shared your
    knowledge. For others, you supported
    their education. You married some off.
    You showed kindness to so many. You
    gave spiritual life.”
    Avos, the birth parents and grandparents.
    Every Friday night following candle
    lighting, it is customary to say a prayer
    beseeching HaShem to be granted the
    privilege of raising children and
    grandchildren who are wise and
    understanding, who love and are attached
    to HaShem, and will light up the world
    through their Torah and good deeds.
    A beautiful prayer. Every parent’s dream.
    To have children living a Torah life. The
    life of Pirkei Avos.
    Memories. My father, HaRav Meshulem
    ben HaRav Asher Anshel HaLevi zt’l,
    was ailing. My mother was in the hospital
    room with him as we children waited in
    the hallway. Ima came out crying. “Abba
    said ‘Raise them well’. I told Abba that
    we raised them together. Boruch HaShem,
    they are all married. Abba then said, ‘You
    are never done’ ”.
    Parenting is for life.
    Every chapter of Ethics opens with the

    same introduction. “All of Yisroel has a
    share in the World to Come.” Why was this
    passage selected to open each chapter? It
    imparts to us the importance of goals. To
    focus one’s life on the ultimate prize – a
    share in the World to Come. While each of
    us goes through life pursing various goals,
    some big, some small, we should strive for
    the eternal goal, the one that really counts.
    As we go through our day, we must ask
    ourselves, where are my actions taking me,
    what am I accomplishing, where am I
    going? In fact, a closer reading of this
    passage shows that the Hebrew words read
    l’Olam Habbah – towards the World to
    Come. The message is clear. One has to earn
    his portion in the World to Come. There is
    no “Admit Free” card for anyone. HaShem
    gives us the opportunities, it’s up to each of
    us to realize our potential.
    Just as every chapter begins with the same
    introduction, so too, does it close with the
    same words. “HaShem wished to confer
    merit upon Bnei Yisroel. Therefore He gave
    them Torah and mitzvos in abundance…”
    Opportunities to earn our admission to the
    World to Come.
    In the Talmud it is written “Rav Nachman
    said, may I be rewarded for observing three
    meals on Shabbos. Rav Yehudah said, may I
    be rewarded for my devotion in prayer. Rav
    Huna said, may I be rewarded for never
    walking four steps bareheaded. Rav
    Sheishes said, may I be rewarded for
    fulfilling the mitzvah of Tefillin.” (Shabbos
    118b) The Maharal learns from this that
    while we should endeavor to fulfill as many
    mitzvos as possible, a person should focus
    on at least one mitzvah to observe
    scrupulously. Pick one that you will be able
    to keep meticulously, conscientiously, and
    stick to it. That one mitzvah will bring you
    closer to HaShem. That one mitzvah could
    just be your ticket to Gan Eden, the World to
    As Shavuos approaches, let’s keep in mind
    that HaShem gifted us many mitzvos. Make
    one your special mitzvah.