Pirkei Avot, Day 2

 

Mishna 4:2

(In Pirkei Avot, we call each entry a mishna)

“Ben Zoma says:

Who is wise? One who learns from every person, as it is said: “From all my teachers I grew wise” (Psalm 119:99).

Who is strong? One who subdues one’s base instincts, as it is said: “One who is slow to anger is better than the strong person, and a master of their passions is better than a conqueror of a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Who is rich? One who is happy with one’s lot, as it is stated: “When you eat of the labor of your hands, you are praiseworthy and all is well with you” (Psalm 128:2). “You are praiseworthy”—in this world; “and all is well with you”—in the world-to-come.

Who is honored? One who honors others, as it is said: “For those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who scorn Me shall be degraded” (I Samuel 2:30).”

We so often try and figure out how to measure ourselves in hopes that we figure out if we’re doing this life thing the right way. Am I smart enough? Successful enough? Do I have enough friends? Am I a good parent? And the list goes on. Our past sages once again offer us some guidance.

Am I wise enough? Learn from everyone. This doesn’t just mean information. This means trying to understand other perspectives, other beliefs, other experiences. You do that, and your perspective and wisdom on the truth of life will continue to expand.

Am I strong enough? Strength comes in not needing to be right. Being strong means giving yourself space to process before reacting. It means having the strength to hold on to your awareness.

Am I rich enough? Am I successful? If you live in “Dayenu,” in the notion that what you have is enough, you will always be rich.

Am I honorable? Honor others. Recognize others, SEE others. That is the path to being honorable.

There is so much going on around us right now. If we can remind ourselves to be open-minded, to find strength, to be content with what we have (even with constraints on our lives), to honor others’ experiences and journeys. If we can do those things then our experience can be that much more peaceful.

Today, practice each one of the four things above. Learn from someone, give yourself space to process something, make a list of the things you are grateful for, and find a way to honor someone in your life.

*I have and continue to learn so much from each of you. Thank you for being my teachers. Love you!

Rabbi Gabi