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7 Iyar l Parshas Acharei- Kedoshim l May 1

Pirkei Avos Lesson- Chapter 3

It is customary to study a chapter from the Tractate Avos, or Pirkei Avos, in the weeks in between Pesach and Shavuos. Pirkei Avos are filled with the ethical teachings and wisdom of the great sages of the Mishnah.


Background
In the first Mishna of this week’s chapter, Akavya ben Mahalalel famously exhorts people to “...know where you are going- to the place of dirt, worms and maggots.” In other words, a person should reflect on how at the end of his life he will pass on from this world and be buried in the ground.

Rabbeinu Yonah, one of the foremost commentators on Pirkei Avos, explains that what this accomplishes is that a person will no longer have a desire for enjoyment and worldly pleasures as he will realize that it is ‘for the worm that he toils.’

Question
Why would this type of reflection spur a person to NOT indulge in worldly pleasure? The famous hedonistic credo of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die” would seem to be MOST applicable to someone who is facing impending doom and rotting in the ground. 

Additionally, why does Rabbeinu Yonah assert that a person will realize that his ‘toil is for the worm’? One who toils for pleasure is not interested in the results and after-effects of his action but rather for the pleasurable experience itself! 

Answer
Rabbeinu Yonah is clueing us in to a very powerful force within every person. That is the force of the Neshama or a person’s real essence, his Soul. Every single person has a powerful life-force inside of him that is derived from the Almighty G-d of the world who is immortal and eternal. A person knows intuitively that there is eternity to his mission, there is a greater, bigger goal here than just what is in front him. 

How, therefore, can a person lead a purely physical and pleasure-seeking existence? He must fool himself into thinking that this is really a long-term investment and endeavor. Much like a rat that is racing along on his wheel to nowhere, a person must delude himself into thinking that all of his efforts for physical pleasure are really a worthy long-term investment.

Akavya ben Mahalalel is encouraging us to break this cycle. Focus on how a physical existence leads to- exactly where every man that has ever walked the face of this Earth goes- back to the ground and as food for the worms. There is no great long-term vision of a physical existence.

Lesson
If a person can accustom himself to thinking MORE long term, to looking into where his actions lead to in the immediate future. This will help a person to begin to see the bigger picture of life.

To be able to really and truly view the world with this proper perspective that, as King Solomon- the wisest of all men- realized, ‘vanity of vanity, all is vain’ takes a life’s work of perfecting one’s vision. ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step’, let’s take this first step.



Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer


What's Happening...
Judaic Studies

Rabbi Yehuda Friedman- 5th/ 6th Grade Boys

I am hearing words that I never expected to hear from the 5/6th grade boys. We miss school! We don't appreciate what we have until it's gone and we're all (or almost all) feeling it.

But, just because we're not in school, doesn't mean that we haven't been accomplishing! Just in time for Pesach, we finished Parshas Bo in Chumash, which deals with the final Makkos. We are now getting ready for the splitting of the sea in Beshalach!

In 5th grade Gemara, we finished our very first Amud (page)! A tremendous accomplishment! Looking forward to getting back to school to celebrate these two very special Siyumim!
 
General Studies

Ms. Renee Glashow- 3rd Grade

Even though The Third Grade Learning Spot has been learning and socializing during our virtual meetings it's still not the same as being together. Thus, each student was mailed a "Flat Ms. Glashow" (based on the book Flat Stanley) to spend time with and document the fun they have together through writing and photos!

Each week we watch a "Steve Hartman: Kindness 101" video that fo-
cuses on a character trait such as empathy, courage, gratitude, and friendship. Hartman, a CBS News journalist, uses children's stories to explain each trait and his own children participate in the live videos.

After discussing the trait the 3rd graders write about a time they demonstrated it. We also discuss ways we can use the trait during this time of social distancing.

Pre- School

Mrs. Esther Baila Berl- Kindergarten

In Torah Tots we have been learning the color green! We talked about things that are green such as grass, tree tops, and frogs. We read the book "Green" by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. In the book we saw many different shades of green. We also had fun learning two songs about the color green! If you would like to join us in singing these fun songs, the words can be found on our Torah Tots page.

We practiced counting to five by counting the leaves clipped onto a green paper tree top. Each time we counted the leaves Morah sang a song and took one leaf away. We continued counting until
there were no leaves left to count.

On Tuesday, we had a special green show and tell! Each child, and Morah, brought a green item to share with the class on Zoom. We saw green cars, a gecko shirt, an alligator, a green cup and a cactus. Who knew green things were so easy to find? Now we do in Torah tots! We look forward to continue learning about the color green and spring.

How many green spring things can you find?
 
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