Studying the wisdom of the ancients


For over a thousand years, Jews have been studying the 2nd century text Pirkei Avot (the “Wisdom of the Ancients”) each Shabbat between Pesah and Shavuot.  Why?  The ethical teachings, philosophical musings, and theological axioms that this text contains provide a kind of “greatest hits” of ancient rabbinic thought, which has spawned hundreds of commentaries of its own.  When we study this text ourselves, we open up a conversation that spans across the centuries about the meaning and purpose of human life that touches on the deepest questions that continue to engage us all.  That is what makes Pirkei Avot such an accessible text and one that is worth coming back to year after year.  Like the Torah itself, our perspective on Pirkei Avot changes as we change, and we are able to glean new insights  from it whether we are studying it for the first time or for the hundredth time.  You are invited to enter into this study, whether with others in the GJC community on Shabbat afternoons or by studying on your own using one of many online resources, such as this collection of audio teachings from Hadar.  May all of our study move and enrich and complicate our lives!