The Weekly Pirkei Avot Study class
With Rabbi David Lawrence
Each Shabbath, from after Passover until Rosh Hashanah, during which time Pirkei Avot is read in the synagogue, there is a class in Pirkei Avot for all knowledge levels of participants that examines both the simple and deeper meaning of the text. A superficial reading of the text may give the impression that the sayings found in Pirkei Avot are simple. On closer examination, one begins to appreciate the profundity of the teachings. This class takes the participants through different layers of understanding. The class is also interspersed with interesting stories of Chassidic and non-Chassidic sages which illustrate the ideas expressed.
Pirkei Avot, (Hebrew: פרקי אבות), which translates into English as Chapters of the Fathers, is a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period. Because of its contents, it is also called Ethics of the Fathers. Pirkei Avot is unique in that it is the only tractate of the Talmud dealing solely with ethical and moral principles; there is little or no halacha found in Pirkei Avot.
Pirkei Avot, the tractate, consists of six chapters. It begins with an order of transmission of the Oral Tradition: Moses receives the Torah at Mount Sinai and then transmits it through various generations, including Joshua, the Elders, and the Neviim, and then to the Men of Great Assembly who lived during the second temple. It contains sayings attributed to sages from Simon the Just (200 BCE) to shortly after Judah haNasi (200 CE), redactor of the Mishnah.