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Pirkei Avot: Pursuing Peace
Video 2 of 13
I am back again with you and I want to just give you again a little introduction in this mini course. As I have mentioned before briefly I am going to be looking not just to the content of the first chapter of Pirkei Avot here but I am going to be looking at its structure. In very sophisticated documents you will find often that the meaning of the document is not just in its content but in its structure as well. What that means is, is that as we look at a Mishna, a given Mishna, a given little section of text is going to be composed of probably several different aphorisms of seven different components. You can almost envision those components as pieces of cartilages or bones or a spine and with anything in the spine, it’s not just the pieces of bones but how they are connected, what are the ligaments that connect the bones, what are the connector pieces, what does it look like as a whole of you could diagram its structure, what would it look like visually, how is it that you would diagram it?
These are the kinds of questions I want to ask and I want to just jump in. I have told you what we are going to be looking at, we are actually going to be looking at the beginning of the first chapter of Pirkei Avot, the end of the first chapter and in then the middle of the first chapter and then we will find some fascinating patterns in there.
But we will jump into the beginning, what are the principles that the Mishna begins to talk about right at the beginning?
So you have this Mishna at the beginning and I will quote the Mishna to you but as you read it, all you need to think, first of all it is going to talk about three different things, are they related things or are they unrelated things, are they like apples, Cadillacs, and treadmills, they have nothing to do with each other or are they related and if they are related, what’s the structure actually look like? How would we diagram it?
Okay, so let’s jump on in here.
Okay, so here is the first Mishna, it is actually the second Mishna in Pirkei Avot but it cuts right into the chase. Al shloshah devarim ha'olam omed, ‘the world stands on three things’, al ha'torah, v’al ha'avodah, v'al gemilut chasadim, ‘and those three things are the Torah on the one hand’, avodah, ‘service of God on the other’, gemilut chasadim, ‘acts of kindness’. These are the three things that the world stands on. By the way if you think about the world standing, you know, visually, what are the minimum amount of legs or pillars that requires for anything to stand on in the real world and the answer actually is three. Ride a tricycle, is a stable unit for a 6 year old to drive. Bicycle, you got to balance, won’t balance on its own. Three balances on the zone, three points will define a plane, three points allow for something to be steady and here too, the world stands on three ideas, on three principles and the three are Torah, avodah, and gemilut chasadim, ‘service of God’ and acts of kindness and now I want to challenge you to think about this, are these again you know, apples, Cadillac’s, treadmills and nothing to do with each other? Just three important things or can you find a relationship between these three important things and if so, what would that relationship look like, how would you diagram it, is this a circle, is this like a flowchart, A leads to B, leads to C, is it a triangle, what exactly is this? How would you envision it in your mind’s eye, what structure would you create for it that would help to find how these ideas kind of relate to each other?
So, think about that, ponder that, we will get into what you come up with. When we come back with the next video I will share with you what I came up with.
See you then.
2. Pillars of the World
3. The Triangle
4. From Abstract to Concrete
5. A Tale of Two Triangles
7. The Puzzle of Aaron's Methodology
8. Truth, Balance and Integrity
9. Past-Focused Integrity; Future-Focused Integrity
10. Two Kinds of "Why"
11. A Closer Look at Aaron's Methodology
12. Of Everything, Ask What it is in its Essence
13. Judgments of Peace
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