Pirkei Avot, Day 22

The first question I think of when reading this passage is “What does it take?” What does it take to be worthy of a teacher? What does it take to secure a friend? And what does it take to judge everyone favorably?

I think the most important parts of being a student are being open enough to learn, wise enough to question, and courageous enough to integrate it all into your own experiences.

Securing a friend takes trust and time, patience and commitment.

And last but probably most important is judging everyone favorably. It takes being open to perspectives other than your own. It takes listening and learning. It takes security in who you are and what you stand for so that you are not afraid of being influenced or steered away from your values. Judging everyone favorably, right now, may be one of our biggest challenges in a world so divided. But the more we can understand where another person is coming from, the more we can begin to heal the wounds that need healing. Our inclination may be to argue or fight, but as John Lewis z’l said in his final message to us “let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

I love you all. May we be inspired every day by the words of our sages.

Rabbi Gabi