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Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 6 Beraitha 7
with select commentaries

Commentaries used in this translation:
Rashi Commentary (1040-1105)
Rambam Commentary (1135-1204)
Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura Commentary (1445-1515)
Tiferet Yisrael commentary (1782–1860)
Rabeinu Yonah (1180-1263)
Derech Chaim - Maharal of Prague (1525-1609) (hebrewbooks.org/14193)
Biur HaGra of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - (1720-1797)
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai commentary - (1570-1643)
Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azoulai (Chida) commentary - (1724-1806)
Chatam Sofer commentary - (1762-1839), along with Ktav Sofer, and others
Ben Ish Chai commentary - (1835-1909)
and many more..

Commentary Level:
  • Min - (level 1) for basic commentaries as relating to the plain meaning (Pshat).
  • Med - (level 2) elaborates more into the theme.
  • Max - (level 3) deeper in, Maharal of Prague.
  • Max+ - (level 4) more themes in the text.
  • ShortMix - (recommended) short version of level 4.
Suggestion: Read once without commentaries (or min). Then a second time with.

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Chapter 6 Beraitha 7פרק ו ברייתא ז
Greater is torah than priesthood and than kingship. For kingship is acquired in 30 ways and priesthood in 24, but the Torah is acquired by 48 things.

These are: talmud (study), listening of the ear, ordering on the lips, understanding of heart, reasoning of the heart, awe, fear, humility, joyousness, purity, attending to the sages, examination with peers, pilpul (fine argumentation) with students, settling [of the mind], [knowledge of] scriptures, [knowledge of] Mishna, minimizing business dealings, minimizing derech eretz (worldly affairs), minimizing pleasures, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing laughter, slow to anger, good heartedness, emunah chachamim (faith in the sages), accepting suffering; recognizing one's place, rejoicing in one's portion, making a fence around one's words, not claiming merit for oneself, being beloved, love of G-d, love of people, love of righteousness, love of uprightness, loves reproofs, distancing from honor, not having his heart swell on [account of] his learning, not delighting in giving halachic (legal) rulings, bearing the yoke with one's fellow, inclining him to the side of merit, establishing him on the truth, establishing him on peace, settling one's heart in his studies, asking and answering, listening and adding, learning in order to teach, learning in order to do, making his teacher wiser, noting with precision what he has heard (mekaven shmuato), and saying something in the name of him who said it. Thus we have learned: one who says something in the name him who said it brings Geulah (redemption) to the world, as written: "And Esther told the king in Mordechai's name" (Esther 2:22).
גְּדוֹלָה תוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מִן הַכְּהֻנָּה וּמִן הַמַּלְכוּת, שֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת נִקְנֵית בִּשְׁלֹשִׁים מַעֲלוֹת, וְהַכְּהֻנָּה בְּעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע, וְהַתּוֹרָה נִקְנֵית בְּאַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁמֹנָה דְבָרִים.

וְאֵלוּ הֵן, בְּתַלְמוּד, בִּשְׁמִיעַת הָאֹזֶן, בַּעֲרִיכַת שְׂפָתַיִם, בְּבִינַת הַלֵּב, בְּשִׂכְלוּת הַלֵּב, בְּאֵימָה, בְּיִרְאָה, בַּעֲנָוָה, בְּשִׂמְחָה, בְּטָהֳרָה, בְּשִׁמּוּשׁ חֲכָמִים, בְּדִקְדּוּק חֲבֵרִים, וּבְפִלְפּוּל הַתַּלְמִידִים, בְּיִשּׁוּב, בַּמִּקְרָא, בַּמִּשְׁנָה, בְּמִעוּט סְחוֹרָה, בְּמִעוּט דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, בְּמִעוּט תַּעֲנוּג, בְּמִעוּט שֵׁינָה, בְּמִעוּט שִׂיחָה, בְּמִעוּט שְׂחוֹק, בְּאֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם, בְּלֵב טוֹב, בֶּאֱמוּנַת חֲכָמִים, וּבְקַבָּלַת הַיִּסּוּרִין, הַמַּכִּיר אֶת מְקוֹמוֹ, וְהַשָּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ, וְהָעוֹשֶׂה סְיָג לִדְבָרָיו, וְאֵינוֹ מַחֲזִיק טוֹבָה לְעַצְמוֹ, אָהוּב, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַצְּדָקוֹת, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמֵּישָׁרִים, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת, מִתְרַחֵק מִן הַכָּבוֹד, וְלֹא מֵגִיס לִבּוֹ בְתַלְמוּדוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ שָׂמֵחַ בְּהוֹרָאָה, נוֹשֵׂא בְעֹל עִם חֲבֵרוֹ, מַכְרִיעוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת, מַעֲמִידוֹ עַל הָאֱמֶת, וּמַעֲמִידוֹ עַל הַשָּׁלוֹם, מִתְיַשֵּׁב לִבּוֹ בְתַלְמוּדוֹ, שׁוֹאֵל וּמֵשִׁיב, שׁוֹמֵעַ וּמוֹסִיף, הַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לְלַמֵּד וְהַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לַעֲשׂוֹת, הַמַּחְכִּים אֶת רַבּוֹ, וְהַמְכַוֵּן אֶת שְׁמוּעָתוֹ, וְהָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר בְּשֵׁם אוֹמְרוֹ, הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁכָּל הָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר בְּשֵׁם אוֹמְרוֹ מֵבִיא גְאֻלָּה לָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (אסתר ב) וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ בְּשֵׁם מָרְדֳּכָי

* note that some ways are included in other ways and there are also different versions of this mishna. Thus it is not so clear how to arrive at 48 ways and not 49 or 50

Priesthood and Kingship

Tiferet Yisrael - "For kingship is acquired in 30 ways.." - 30 ways which the king is elevated above the rest of the people. All of them are listed in Sanhedrin chapter 2 from mishna 2 until the end of the chapter (ex.a king is not judged [in court]).

"and priesthood in 24" - 24 ways which a Kohen is elevated. These are the 24 gifts of the Kohanim (see end of parsha Korach).

"the torah is acquired by 48 things" - he did not call them "ways/virtues" (maalot). For they are not similar to each other like those of the king and the kohen. For in malchut (kingship) and Kehuna (priesthood), they are distinctions and laws which are acquired with the kingship or priesthood. But the 48 things of the torah are obligations which one who wants to acquire torah must acquire them firmly through guarding them properly.
Maharal - "kingship is acquired in 30 ways" - Rashi explains that it is those things written in the book of Shmuel I 8:11-17 when the Israelites requested a king and Shmuel replied to them that such and such are the laws of kings. When you examine there, they are thirty things along with those in the mishna of Sanhedrin (2:2-5) ex. "the king cannot be judged (by a court)..etc."

However, in a Beraitha (Kallah Rabbati 8) is listed thirty levels through which kingship is acquired: silver, gold, wives, male and female slaves, houses, vineyards, gardens and orchards, a treasure house of kings, provinces, male and female officers, fields, shadit, horses, chariots, sword, clothings, weapons, soldiers, spices, watchers, spies, judgment (mishpat), kindness (chesed), charity (tzedaka)".

This explanation seems [correct]. For when one has all these things, he is a king. These things are his kingship and are relevant to a king. But not all those things in the mishna (Sanhedrin) are the importance of a king.. such as "not to have too many wives, silver and gold, or horses". Likewise to write two torah scrolls for the king. These are not "levels" (maalot) [of a king] unlike the matters here (in the Beraitha). Rather, these are just mitzvot (commandments) of the king and it is not proper to count them as "maalot" (levels).

Likewise for the 24 "levels" of priesthood. Certainly, these 24 things are all levels and importance of priesthood. For this they are counted.

Thus regarding torah he said 48 "things" (devarim) but for priesthood and kingship, he said "levels" (maalot). For the latter are all levels of importance and authority (sherara).

The tanna did not list the 24 levels of priesthood nor the 30 of kingship because this whole chapter is speaking only on torah and he brought this only to say that torah is greater than both of them..

For the king has an important and exalted level. Thus the king has 30 important things. Kingship is greater than priesthood and torah is greater than kingship.

And in the talmud: "the torah scholar is before the king, the king is before the Kohen Gadol (high priest)" (Horayot 13a)..

You should understand: that which the torah is acquired with 48 things, corresponding to this, our sages said: "the parchment of a torah scroll must not have less than 48 lines" (Sofrim 2:6). For torah is the wisdom which is in the brain/Moach (spelled Mem-Chet=48 gematria) of a man. Understand these things.

(R.Hartman: in Ner Mitzvah he writes: "the torah is sublime wisdom; it is more lofty than human wisdom.. For it is wisdom over everything.." And in Netiv Hateshuva: "for torah is Chochmah.. Torah is the higher wisdom (chochma elyona) of which there is nothing after".)

The 30 levels of kingship correspond to the three negative commandments of a king: "he shall not multiply wives to himself" (Devarim 17:17), "he shall not multiply horses to himself" (Devarim 17:16), and "nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold to himself." (Devarim 17:17).

Corresponding to each mitzvah are 10 levels/qualities. You should also know that the level of the king is 30. As you can see the letter Lamed (gematria=30) is the tallest of all the hebrew letters. For 30 is fit for the elevation and raising up of kingship. The reason is that until ten is considered below. Twenty is considered middle while thirty is considered completely above. Thus, the letter whose gematria is 30 is taller than all the others.

If you ask: if so the rest of the letters whose gematria is greater should be even taller?

It is not so. For specifically 30 has proper elevation. But above that is considered a lacking. This is as our sages expounded on the verse: "why do you leap O high mountains" (Tehilim 68:17). - this was said on mount Tavor and Carmel which are considered baalei mumim (blemished) compared to mount Sinai.

For mount Sinai did not go out of the proper measure (height). But Tavur and Carmel were more than what is proper. Such a thing is called a "Mum" (blemish). For "every extra is as removed" (Chulin 58b). Therefore the primary elevation is specifically Lamed, not the other letters. Thus, kingship is acquired specifically with thirty levels. For through thirty the king is elevated.

Likewise the word "Melech" (king) has a Lamed in the middle hinting the king is elevated above his brothers Yisrael. It also hints that he should not be separated from his brothers as written: "his heart should not be proud over his brothers".. Thus the letters Mem and Kuf which are the brothers (adjacent in hebrew aphabet) to Lamed are joined to it. This hints the king should be joined (amongst) to his brothers and not be separated from them.

Furthermore it is proper honor for the king that he be in the middle and the people around him..

Likewise, we have clarified elsewhere that whatever is elevated is in the middle. A siman (sign) of this is: "the land of Israel is higher (spiritually) than other lands" (Kidushin 69a) and "it is in the middle of the world (Tanchuma Kedoshim 10) (between africa, europe and asia). Thus, the letter Lamed is in the middle of the Hebrew alphabet.

From this you will also understand that it is proper for the king to have specifically thirty levels. For he is above all in level.

There are two great levels (besides king): one, kohen gadol (high priest) and two, the prophet while the king is greater than both. Thus our sages said: "the king is before the Kohen Gadol and the Kohen Gadol is before the prophet" (Horayot 13a). And the kohen gadol is on the right, the prophet on the left and the king in the middle above both.

Thus, the king is elevated to the third level and therefore he has three commandments, as explained and thirty levels. Understand this.
Pirkei Moshe - as known, malchut (kingship) is not acquired in the essence of the king. For it is an incidental property in him and depends on other people. Namely, the people accept him and agree to make him king over them.

If they suddenly agree to depose him of being king, they will take him down and he will become an ordinary person. Thus the crown of malchut is something that depends on the agreement of other people.

But the crown of torah is an essence matter in those who merit it. The intellect, thinker, and knowledge become one (naaseh sechel, maskil, vemuskal davar echad), as the Rambam explains in part 1 chapter 68 of his book (Moreh Nevuchim). And no creature in the world has the power to remove it from him.. For it is acquired in the soul of the person..

Introduction to the 48 Ways

Midrash Shmuel - "with study, with listening, with verbalizing... one who recognizes his place, one who rejoices in is portion.." - Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino wrote: I noticed in the mishna that the first 24 ways are written with a prefix of the letter "Beit" (i.e. "with") while the last 24 ways are written not with a prefix of the letter "Beit" but instead with a prefix of the letter "Heh" (i.e. "one who") .. The difference is that the first 24 ways are causes to acquire (the torah) in the soul and are thus like vessels. Therefore, he wrote them with a "Beit" (with).

But the latter 24 ways are causes to guard and preserve the kinyan (acquiring) in the soul after it has been acquired. Thus he mentioned them with a "Heh" (one who) since they are not like vessels but are rather perfection in the soul through which the kinyan torah is guarded and preserved.
Reisheit Chochmah, gate of holiness, ch.4 - "the torah is acquired with 48 ways, listening of the ear, etc., with awe, with minimal sleep, minimal pleasures, minimal derech eretz.." - all these preparations are distancing love of this world from a man's heart. The reason is that due to its spiritual nature, the torah cannot rest in man's heart until he distances from love of this world and divests himself of the garment of physicality and becomes like an angel in terms of purifying his body and soul.

He used the term [the torah is] "acquired" (niknet) unlike by malchut and priesthood.. For the torah is called "the daughter of the King" and the halacha is "a woman is acquired (niknet) in three ways" (Kidushin 1:1) and the acquisition is kidushin. For the existence of the torah is that it is called "daughter of the king" and her kidushin is that a man gives to her until she is married to him and reveals her secrets to him. This is through the 48 ways mentioned. When a man merits the torah by acquiring these things, then he merits to the neshama (higher soul).
Be'er Mayim Chayim, Shemot - before learning, a man needs to examine well the 48 ways with which the torah is acquired and to see to it to fix all of them in his heart and to learn torah with all their details. For if one does not look first at these 48 ways, to fix them in the depths of his heart in truth - he will never acquire the torah, that it be wholly favorable before G-d.

For our sages said: "the torah is acquired with 48 ways". And from "Yes" one can infer "No" - without the 48 ways, one will not acquire the torah.

Behold, some of them are: fear/awe, humility, purity, joy, receiving sufferings, minimal enjoyments, minimal sleep, love of G-d, love of people, love of righteousness, love of rebuke, distancing from honor, not having his heart swell on [account of] his learning, not joyous to render judgment, to bear the yoke of one's fellow with him, to incline him to merit, to stand him on the truth, etc.

These alone require great preparation, much zeal, intense strengthening, and overcoming one's lusts in great detail. All the more so for standing up to all of them..

When a man learns with these ways, in truth this is "torah lishma". For the whole intent in torah study is to divest oneself of all levels of physicality as much as possible and to cling one's soul and spirit (nefesh, ruach, v'neshama) to G-d who is hidden in the torah. For all of the torah is G-d's will; He wanted that things be done thus and thus and that the judgment and law be thus and thus. It is known that He and His will are absolutely one as brought by the Rambam (Yesodei Torah ch.1).

Thus it is called "Torah". For it teaches on the Hidden which is G-d. For it is impossible to cling to G-d except through the torah and the mitzvot (commandments). For the torah is the intermediary between Yisrael and their Father in Heaven, that Yisrael cling to G-d through the torah. And everything in order to please G-d (nachat ruach) who created the world and everything in it for this purpose - that Yisrael should cling to Him after great distancing from the light of His face at creation through being enclothed in this earthly physicality and to return to our root above.

When a man learns in this way, he merits many things and the torah grants him life and dominion and reveals to him secrets of the torah. He becomes like a powerful wellspring (mayan hamitgaber), etc. But if a man learns torah for himself, to answer people when they come to him with questions, or to not need to ask others himself, or other foolish reasons not for the true intent for G-d of clinging to Him and pleasing Him, then the torah becomes a death potion. For he takes the secrets of G-d, as known every letter of torah is divine names of G-d, and he pulls down everything to the side of the Sitra Achara, ie the "other side" which is not "leshem Hash-em" (with intent to G-d)...
Siftei Daat on Avot - "the torah is acquired (niknet)" - "niknet" means with her knowledge and consent (midaata u'retzona) (just like acquiring a woman in marriage as the mishna in kidushin 1:1 begins "the woman is acquired (niknet)..").

And it is not easy for a man to merit that the holy torah would want to join with him. For the torah is its own master (baalim al atzma).

(see Menachot 99b where the torah is compared to a bird of the field (tzipor dror). The Maharal (Netiv Hatorah ch.5) explains that the torah is called a free bird of the field because a bird of the field does not accept ownership (marut), to be subjugated under man. For it is a bird of the heaven and flies in the air of the sky. The torah is similar to this as it is separate (nivdal) from man..)

One needs to engage with the torah full negotiations just like between human beings, in which ways and conditions she will accept to join with a man! (Daat Torah chelek 3, pg.267, Daat Chomah ummussar chelek 2, 70).
Siftei Daat on Avot - "the torah is acquired with 48 things" - besides these 48 things listed by the Tanna, one should know that the beginning and start of entering the torah through which one merits to acquire the torah is iyun and amelut (in depth study and toil). Toil (amelut) in torah does not mean diligence (hatmada) but rather "toil" by itself, to strain (lhityageah) in torah. Through this it is possible to merit acquiring the torah. For specifically through toil (amal), the holy torah wants to reveal herself to a man and be acquired to him. And our sages said: "(if a person says): 'I toiled and found, believe him'" (Megilah 6b). The more toil, the more praiseworthy (kol hamarbe beyegiah harize meshubach). And when there is toil from man's side, then the torah reveals herself to him.. to give to him the reasons of the torah. A person can feel this tangibly. For he may be toiling and thinking in something and receive insights into something else entirely. A person should pay attention to this.. (Daat Torah 3, pg.267-8).
Siftei Daat on Avot - "48 ways.." - the Beraitha is teaching us a great secret regarding grasping and acquiring torah.

The pious "Yavetz" wrote (on Avot 3:14 "R.Akiva says: 'beloved is Yisrael for they were given...Torah'"):
"Rabbi Akivah informed us on our quality (maalah) above the other nations. For G-d created man and granted him dominion over the animals through the power of the intellect in him, as written: "let us make man in our image and form.." (Gen.1:26). This image (tzelem) which man was created with is the carrier (nosseh) of all wisdoms. For through it, man can attain all of them.. We the Jewish people share this quality with the other nations.

However, we have been singled out among them.. with one thing which is much greater. It is a divine matter which activates on us (inyan Eloki chal alenu).. From this we have merited that the divine torah does not fall under intellectual analysis (chakira sichlit). Rather, the torah is above this. Therefore, it can only be grasped through prophecy. This divine matter I mentioned is the carrier of the torah just like the tzelem is the carrier of all wisdoms.." end quote.
It is clear from his words that the divine torah does not fall under intellectual analysis. The "aleph" of torah is not grasped by thought of the tzelem Elokim (image of G-d, ie man's intellect). For it is above this. It is impossible to grasp it except through prophecy. For the secret of the torah is that it is the "word of G-d" (dvar Hash-em) and the word of G-d cannot be grasped by any thought but rather through the power of prophecy which reveals to man a revelation of torah.

(this is what our sages said (Eiruvin 65a): "night was created only for girsa (torah study).. R.Acha would sleep by day and learn by night". For the power of prophecy is greater at night. This is because the physical body blocks (chotzetz) and at night its senses weaken and it withdraws to some extent. Thus a man is somewhat divested of his body and then he attains great revelations. see Daat Torah, part one pg.252)

And even though the torah is not graspable without study, namely, that man must study, toil and labor in it. But this is not a difficulty at all. For in truth, to attain prophecy there is also study to know it similar to what is written by the prophet Yirmiyahu: "and the Word of G-d came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. And G-d said to me, You have seen well; for I will watch over My Word to perform it.." (Yirmiyahu 1:11-12).

Thus he needed to learn and contemplate to know what G-d was showing him in a prophetic vision. But certainly without the power of prophecy, he would not have grasped the devar Hash-em (word of G-d). This too is the secret regarding the whole torah.

Prophecy itself has many levels such as "face to face" (panim b'panim), "clear mirror" (aspaklaria hameira), "unclear mirror" (aspaklaria sheino meira), "in a dream at night" (b'chalom layla). So too regarding the torah as explained above. It is written: "G-d spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the fire" (Devarim/Deut.5:4).

For the Jewish people at mount Sinai were on the level of "face to face" (panim b'panim), "a clear mirror" (aspaklaria hameira), receiving the torah from peak truth of the secret of its level to the lowest level of torah (b'si amitat sod dargata ad hadarga hatachtona shel torah). For the torah is attained only through the power of prophecy.

Along these lines, we will understand well what our sages said (Bava Batra 12a): "from the day the temple was destroyed, prophecy was taken away from the prophets but it was not taken away from the Chachamim (torah scholars).. Says Abaye: 'know that one great torah scholar says one thing and another great torah scholar says the same thing' Rava objects: what is difficult? Perhaps both torah scholars are from the same Mazel (spiritual root)".

These words of the talmud seem very difficult. If they are not from the same Mazel, it is impossible for one great torah scholar to understand the same thing as another great torah scholar??

Rather, certainly the secret of the matter is that it is impossible to grasp torah except through the power of prophecy. For is it conceivable for a human being to arrive (lekaven) at the view of the Master of the world?

If one indeed arrived to know the view of the Master of the world, certainly and certainly, this is none other than the power of prophecy, whereby G-d revealed His secret to those who fear Him (gilah sodo lireiav). So too when a great torah scholar says something and grasps knowledge of the word of G-d, it is not conceivable for another scholar to say like him without the power of prophecy.

This is a clear proof that "prophecy was not taken away from the Chachamim (torah scholars)".

Later there in the talmud: "rather, Rav Ashi says: 'know that a great torah scholar says something and there was already a Halacha from Moshe at Sinai like him'. 'But perhaps he is like a blind man groping his way through an attic?' [answer:] 'does he not give reasons [for his opinions]' ".

Rashi explains there: "since he said a taam (reasoning), this is not like a blind man who by chance descends from the attic with intent. Rather, it is a reasoning of the heart (svara halev) which comes to him by prophecy and he merits to arrive at the 'halacha to Moshe from Sinai'".

Behold, explicitly like our words - the grasping of torah is a 'reasoning of the heart' (svara halev) which comes through prophecy.

What comes out from all this is an awesome matter. A man should know that when he approaches the torah, he should consider in his thoughts that he is preparing himself for prophecy. And to attain prophecy, it is evident that great preparations are needed. So too for one who steps forth to study the torah.

Without a doubt this is what the mishna teaches us that the torah is acquired through 48 levels - awe, fear, humiliyu, joy, purity, bearing the yoke of his fellow, and the like. For to acquire the torah, one needs those same levels needed to attain prophecy.

In my view, this is the matter of the counting of 49 days before the giving of the torah. For they are preliminaries (hakdamot) to acquiring the torah in one's nature (b'tevah) so that a person and his torah are one. This is as our sages expounded (Avodah Zara 19a): "at first the torah is called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He. Afterwards, it is called by his name, as written: 'fortunate is the man.. who desires G-d's torah and toils in his [own] torah day and night'.." (Tehilim 1:1).

During the 48 days, they would toil in one level per day and on the 49th day they would join all the 48 traits together into one form.. Then it would be easy to enter the inner chambers of torah.. (Chochma u'Mussar 1:236).

#1 - Talmud (study)

Matanat Avot - "with talmud (study)" - the first and most basic way to acquire the torah is simply to study the torah. First of all - start to learn and immerse yourself. Even if you still don't know anything on the ways to acquire the torah - start to learn and G-d will help you to draw in all the other ways. Likewise in the famous Beraitha of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair: "torah brings to watchfulness, watchfulness brings to zeal, etc.", the big question is "what brings to torah?"

The answer is: nothing at all. Simply start to learn. Nothing brings to torah besides torah study. This is the most basic beginning! And only with one who learns torah is there what to talk about to advance further in the other ways to acquire torah.
Midrash Shmuel - "talmud (learning)" - i.e. to be learning always. Another explanation, to not have any other business (esek) besides torah. But if he wants to succeed in this and that, to toil in a business career and also learn - he will not acquire a kinyan of torah.
Tiferet Yisrael - "talmud" - words of torah need to be received from a Rav. It is impossible to deduce them from intellect like other wisdoms.
Chelek l'Olam Haba by Shaoul Brach - "talmud (study)" - the commentaries ask: is it not obvious that if he does not study, he will not acquire the torah? There is to answer that torah study is different from study of all other wisdoms in the world. For in torah, even if one studies diligently, but nevertheless if he had the power to learn more time but he did not - the torah does not reveal itself to him. For example, one person is busy all day in earning his livelihood and he has only one hour to learn, but he is careful on that hour and does not waste a second or he pushes himself and learns two hours. Another person has free time to learn ten hours but he learned only nine hours.

The first person will attain more in torah than the second. For only if the torah is very important in his eyes does it then reveal itself to him. For knowledge of torah is a segulah and gift of G-d to those who fear Him. Therefore it is given to he for whom it is precious in his eyes and he rejoices in it. This is the intent of "b'talmud (with study)", that one needs to learn always without wasting even one second. And this is not so for any other wisdom in the world.

#2 - listening of the ear

Tiferet Yisrael - "listening of the ear" - ie great [attentive] listening, that one needs to concentrate his ears to the words.
Ruach Chaim - "listening of the ear)" - as written: "hear and your soul shall live" (Isaiah 55:3). For what a person hears with his ears from another person - this will have a greater effect on him than what he sees written in books. This also includes listening to the words of his fellow and accepting the truth from whoever says it.

#3 - ordering on the lips

Tiferet Yisrael - "ordering on the lips/arichat sefatayim" - that he can say them over easily (shegura b'piv) as he received them from his Rabbi or as the words of the book he learned.
Midrash Shmuel - "ordering on the lips/arichat sefatayim" - for all that he learns, he must review it always and utter the words with his lips, as written: "they are life to those who utter them verbally". He said "ordering on the lips (arichat sefatayim)" and not "uttering with the lips" as the language of the verse. For it is not enough to utter them verbally one or two times. Rather, one needs to review the matter many times until it is "arucha bpiv ubsefatav" (on the tip of one's tongue). Likewise we find in the talmud such as "he reviewed the teaching forty times until it was like in his pocket" (Ketuvot 50a).
Ruach Chaim - "ordering on the lips" - as written: "for they are life to those who find them (motzehem)" (Mishlei 4:22) which our sages expounded: "to those who utter (motziehem) them verbally.. But it is not enough to speak out loud. Rather it needs to be with proper understanding. And even what one reviews several times, one needs to think and understand it like the first time.. When speaking it out verbally, one tends to sense the errors in logic. Nevertheless, the main thing is sound understanding.
Maharal - "ordering on the lips" - if he utters in clear language it helps to understand the matter well unlike when he learns in thought only. And all the more so then is the lesson not swiftly forgotten as they expounded: "ordered in all things and guarded" (Shmuel II 23:5) - if it is ordered on one's lips, it is guarded in one's 248 limbs.
Siftei Daat on Avot - "ordering on the lips" - Rashi explains: "words of torah do not endure except through uttering them verbally, as written: 'for they are life...' to those who utter them" (Eiruvin 54a).

The reason is because of the secret of deed (maaseh) in the world of deed (maaseh). For "the main dwelling of the Shechina (divine presence) is below [in this world]" (ikar Shechina b'tachtonim - Midrash Bereisheit Raba 19:7).

Futhermore, scripture says: "the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and heart that you may do it" (Devarim 30:14).

According to Rashi, the verse is speaking on the torah. Thus, the torah is split into three parts: mouth, heart, and deed. And just like there is a part in torah in the secret of deed, so too there is a part in torah specifically in the secret of mouth and not other. Let this not be a wonder in your eyes. For it is written: "man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7), which the Onkelos renders "a speaking spirit". Thus all man's being, his soul and life, it is made whole by his mouth and speech. This is certainly a secret. (Daat Torah 2, pg.33-34).

#4 - understanding of heart

Tiferet Yisrael - "understanding of heart (binat halev)" - to contemplate the things he heard and be able to deduce one thing from another.
Midrash Shmuel - "understanding of heart (binat halev)" - when one reviews his studies by heart, it should not be without understanding like rote practise. For then he will forget it quickly. Rather, he should arrange it on his lips with intent and contemplation of the heart, to understand the words being uttered..
Maharal - "understanding of heart" - that he puts his mind and heart (daato v'libo) on the matter studied. Then he will understand in his heart well.
Yachel Yisrael - "understanding of heart (binat halev)" - to exert all one's mind in study such that his study will be deep, inner and alive (amok, pnimi, ubaal chiyut). This is as the Chatam Sofer testified on his teacher, Rabbi Natan Adler who was a Kohen (Meir Netiv): "if the Temple were rebuit in his lifetime, he would have been fit to serve as Kohen Gadol (high priest) on that day in all its details". For he learned with all his heart and might. Therefore he knew all the halachot (laws) and all the intricate details of the mitzvot (commandments) of the Kohanim in a living and tangible manner. Thus one should learn and thus one acquires torah.

#5 - awe

Tiferet Yisrael - "awe" (b'eimah) - that awe/reverence of his rabbi be upon him (eimat rabbo alav).
Midrash Shmuel - "awe" - ie that the "eimah" (awe/reverence) of his Rav be upon him and also that the eimah (awe/reverance) of the Shechina (divine presence) be upon him. For the Shechina is there, as we learned: "two people who sit and learn torah - the Shechina abides between them..etc. and it is so for even one person who learns torah..etc." (Avot 3:2).

Thus, since he is standing before the Shechina, he must stand with awe/reverance. As reward for this, secrets of the torah will be revealed to him.
Ruach Chaim - "with awe and fear" - for how could one not be seized by fear and trembling when considering that even the Kohen Gadol (high priest) did not have permission to enter the holy of holies except on Yom Kippur. For there was the primary place of the Shechina. If so, in the four cubits of Halacha which our sages said there the Shechina abides (Berachot 8a). Certainly he will learn with fear and not interrupt his mind for useless talk (lo yasiach daato l'devarim betelim).
Matanat Avot - "with awe" - one needs to approach to study the torah with awe. Not like the feeling one has when reading a suspenseful story or book, but rather with awe of the greatness and vastness of every thing in the torah. R.Noach Weinberg zt'l explained that "awe" is shock and wonder of something especially big and powerful.

So too when one approaches to learn torah, even the "easiest" sugyah (topic), one must think: "I am about to study G-d's torah which is so vast that it is endless and beyond grasp (ein la sof vecheker). "its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea" (Iyov 11:9).

And every thing in the torah is aligned with the loftiest spiritual roots in all the worlds and every verse in the Tanach (Bible) and every halacha in the Oral Law bestows immense spiritual flow to the world in that matter through the person toiling in that. And everything written is the will of G-d, the King of kings.

And according to this din (law), G-d created the world and the whole system was created so as to be fit and connected to the laws of the torah. There is much to elaborate but the main point is understood. Torah is not some children's game. Torah is the root of all the worlds!

"with fear (b'yira)" - in addition to the infinite greatness of the torah mentioned previously, there is another very important matter. When a man comes to learn torah, he should consider that the torah is so exact and true, and every thing in the torah has [spiritual] roots and roots of roots without limit in the upper worlds. Thus whoever comes to learn and inquire some matter in the torah and especially in halacha, he needs to sit on this in serious fear and to be afraid telling himself: "if I err, ch'v in some matter of the torah, I damage and make crooked all the upper worlds connected to that matter of the torah".

On this Rebbi Yishmael said to Rebbi Meir (who was a scribe): "my son, be careful in your trade. For it is heavenly work. If you miss one letter or add an extra letter, you destroy the whole world" (Eiruvin 13a).

For each letter of the torah has roots in the upper worlds and all divine flow from above to below passes through the letters of the written torah. Thus, if there is an error in the sefer torah, then the divine flow from above is blocked/tarnished to some extent.

This realization should awaken great fear/reverence by every person who comes to learn and inquire of what is the intended meaning in some matter and all the more so if it is connected to practical halacha..
Maharal - "awe and fear" - one needs to sit with eima (awe/reverence) before his Rabbi, as they said: "any talmid (student) who sits before his Rabbi and his lips do not drip bitterness - he will not see a good sign (siman tov) in his learning, as written: "his lips drip myrrh. " (Shir 5:13), do not read "drip myrrh" but rather "drip bitterness (mar)" (Shabbat 30b).

The reason is because there needs to be preparation to receive (hachana lekabel). And when one has awe of his teacher/Rabbi then he has the attributes (mishpat) of a "receiver" (Mekabel) from his teacher/Rabbi. For when he has awe of his teacher/rabbi, he is considered a "receiving student" (talmid mekabel).

But if the talmid does not sit with awe, he does not have the attributes (mishpat) of a talmid which receives. Then he does not see a siman tov (good sign) in his studies to receive. For he is not prepared to receive. Thus he said "with awe".

"fear" - the difference between awe and fear is that when one sees the greatness of his Rabbi, due to this he has awe of him. But fear is when he looks at his own smallness and lowliness, then he fears.

For it is proper to fear a great man even if one is not small. But one who is small fears even a man who is not very great. Thus, the talmid needs to sit with awe and fear, that he recognizes the greatness of his Rabbi and also his own smallness.

Furthermore, and even more so, it is proper to explain also that "awe" and "fear" means that one has awe and fear of G-d. Namely, that one recognizes the exalted loftiness and greatness of G-d and also that one recognizes his own lowliness and worth. And by the angels, it is written "they do with awe and fear the will of their Maker" (siddur, yotzer ohr).

This is likewise the explanation here. For a man needs to be prepared to receive. This occurs when he considers himself an effect (of G-d who is the Cause). Through the awe and fear he is considered an effect.

But one who considers himself of importance and possessing levels (baal maalot) - he does not at all have preparation to receive.

#6 - fear

Tiferet Yisrael - "fear" - that he has fear of Heaven in his heart. Through this he wil pay close attention to the words of his Rabbi in his studies.
Midrash Shmuel - "fear" - this refers to fear of Heaven. For as we learned: "one whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom endures" (Avot 3:11), and "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of G-d" (Mishlei 9:10)..
Siftei Daat on Avot - "fear and awe" - Rashi brings the talmud: " 'you shall make known to your sons and grandsons.. the day you stood before your G-d at Sinai' - just like then was with fear, awe, quaking, and sweating, so too here (when learning torah) with fear, awe, quaking, and sweating. From here we learn that Zavim, etc. are permitted to read torah, prophets and holy writings, but Baal Kerim (men who had a seminal discharge) are forbidden" (Berachot 22a).

The reason is that Keri comes from lightheadedness and zachut hadaat (nonseriousness), and he does not have awe and fear. The secret of the matter is that without fear it is not torah. This is as the mishna says: "if there is no wisdom, there is no fear; if there is no fear, there is no wisdom" (Avot 3:17). For wisdom and fear are the same thing. This is due to the lofty level of torah. For the essence (etzem) of torah and "what it is" (mahuta) is "with awe and fear", etc. (Daat Chochma umussar 2:51).
Siftei Daat on Avot - "fear and awe" - in the book "Be'er Avraham" on Tehilim 20:3 "from Tzion He will support you" he writes: "because 'from Tzion will come forth torah' and torah brings a man closer to his Creator. The torah supports a man so that he will be able to come before the King. For he toils in the hidden treasures of the King (ginzei hamelech) and he is among those who "see the King's face" (roeh pnei hamelech) first, before the angels." end quote.

We learn from here a great principle (yesod gadol). For since through the torah, a man approaches his Creator and enters the inner chambers "among those who see the King's face first" - then torah [study] is just like prayer. For the essence of both is that one who toils in them is standing before the King! And both are called "avodah" (divine service).

Not only that, but the level of torah is even higher than the level of prayer, "among those who see the king's face first".

This is what our sages said: "the chaverim (scholars) who toil in torah (like R.Shimon bar Yochai and his peers whose occupation was torah) must interrupt their torah study for reciting the Shemah but not for prayer" (Shabbat 11a).

For the torah scholars whose occupation is torah, at the utmost level of true torah, - for them the avodah of torah was at the peak level. Therefore it was higher than the level and closeness of prayer. Therefore, for them certainly one must not interrupt torah even for prayer.

Thus, just like by prayer there is a halacha: "even if a [human] king greets you, you must not interrupt". For while praying, one is standing before the King of kings.

If so, certainly and all the more so that while learning torah "even if a [human] king greets you", it is forbidden to interrupt the study. For one who studies torah is as one who stands in prayer.

How much shame should enter a person when considering that this matter has become hefker (common) for us. And we do not know to be careful of not interrupting torah study like prayer. For both are the same thing - standing before the King! And this is what our sages taught: "whoever interrupts words of torah to engage in mundane speech is fed burning coals" (Chagigah 12b).

It comes out from this that certainly "awe and fear" is among the ways to acquire the torah. For according to what we explained, the essence of torah is that one who toils in it is as one standing before the King. Thus in truth it would be proper that when one sits to learn torah, he should don a tallit and tefilin just like during the Shemah and prayer. (Daat Torah, chelek beit, pg.244-5, 247).

And the Ramban writes: "our sages said in Sifri.. 'you shall serve Him' - serve G-d through His torah, serve G-d through His temple. - the explanation is that service of the temple is fulfillment of the verse 'you shall serve Him'. For this is called Avodah (service of G-d). They further said: 'serve G-d through His torah', to study and contemplate His torah. This too is an Avodah (service of G-d) before Him" end quote.

According to our words this is clear. For the secret and essence of the holy torah is specifically "Avodah" (service of G-d). For the essence of it is for one to be completely cleaving to her (the torah) with all his thoughts and senses until one is divested of the physical (ad kedey hitpashtut hagashmiut) and the power of one's thinking and heart is entirely before G-d. Without this, ch'v, it is not the holy torah. (Daat Chochma umussar, chelek 2:77).
Daat Zekenim on Pirkei Avot, writings of Rabeinu Yerucham haLevi of Mir - "awe and fear" - in the midrash (Shir Hashirim Rabba 1):" 'your name is as oil poured out' - just like oil does not mix together like other liquids, so too words of torah do not mix with words of frivolity (letzanut). And just like for a cup full of oil in your hand, if a drop of water falls inside, a corresponding drop of oil will fall out, so too if words of torah enter the heart, a corresponding measure of frivolity (letzanut) will come out, or if words of frivolity enter the heart, a corresponding measure of words of torah will come out." end quote.

The explanation of the midrash is as we learned that the torah is acquired with awe and fear. The foundation of the matter is that the essence of torah is "with awe, fear, quaking, and sweating", as we learned earlier: "if there is no wisdom, there is no fear; and if there is no fear there is no wisdom" (Avot 3:17). For wisdom and fear are one and the same, without any separation at all. Without fear, it is not torah. Thus, words of torah and words of frivolity are complete opposites of each other and antagonists of each other. Certainly then words of torah do not mix with words of frivolity.

Behold, a man's body is like a long pouch to receive and store things inside, as the talmud says: "all human bodies are pouches; fortunate are they who are worthy of being pouches (derafteki) of the Torah" (Sanhedrin 99b). Rashi explains there: " 'derafteki' - a long pouch used to store money. Fortunate is he who merits to be a vessel for words of torah." end quote (i.e. and not of useless things).

#7 - humility

Tiferet Yisrael - "humility" - towards G-d. Through this the words of torah will be precious in his eyes and he will watch over them very well.
Midrash Shmuel - "humility" - that one needs to be of humble spirit before every person. For thus Moshe merited that the torah be given through him. Namely, because he was the humblest person on the face of the earth. Furthermore, a humble person learns from every man, even a small person, and as written: "from all who taught me I grew wiser".
Matanat Avot - "humility" - when a person comes to learn torah, he should realize no matter how wise he thinks he is or other people around him see him, nevertheless, he is still as less than nothing compared to the giants of torah in previous generations. Namely, starting from Moshe rabeinu, to the Zekenim (Elders), the judges, prophets, tannaim (mishnaic sages), amoraim (talmudic sages), geonim, rishonim, and acharonim (later sages).

Then he will very quickly merit to reach humility in realizing what his greatness is relative to these lofty mountains.

Thus he will gain several things:
1. to treat with honor every statement of our sages and their commentators. And he will not annul their words like dust if he does not understand them.. Through this, he will merit to annul himself to the sages of the generation, the transmitters of the torah. and be able to accept all their instructions. And he will not come to challenge and dispute with them on every thing which does not appear [correct] to him, as our sages brought: "even if he tells you left is right, you need to listen to him" (Devarim 17:11, Rashi).
Maharal - "humility" - for humility is the first cause (sibah rishona) to torah. And like by Moshe, of all his many virtues, the only cause to his torah was his humility. And our sages said: "a sign of arrogance is poverty" (Kidushin 49b), which they explain to be poverty in torah. From this we learn the opposite, namely, a sign of humility is torah.

And in Tractate Taanit (7a): "why are words of torah compared to water? For just like water abandons high places and flows to low ground, so too words of torah only endure by one who is of lowly spirit". We will explain this later (in Netivot Olam, torah ch.2 and humility ch.8).

(R.Hartman: in Drush alHatorah 19b, the Maharal writes: the torah does not endure by one who considers himself in his eyes as something (devar mah). For every "thing" has a boundary and limit which bounds it. Then he has no comparison to the torah due to his being bounded by his dimensions.. when G-d went to Moshe (to appoint him), Moshe said "who am I that You want to give the torah through me?" (Talmud Shabbat 89a). Thus in his eyes he did not see himself as anything at all. And since he said: "who am I?" G-d told him to call the Torah on his own name. For it is proper to call the torah on his name due to this humility.. For Moshe did not limit himself by any measure or boundary completely to the extent that he said: "what am I?" But if he considered himself as something, he would be limiting himself with boundaries and dimensions and then he would not be fit that the torah be called on his name. For the torah is (transcendent) intellect (sichlit) which is not bound by limits and boundaries like physical things. Thus, since he did not limit himself at all and considered himself in his eyes as completely simple (pashut) until he said "what am I?", therefore he was fit to receive the torah of transcendent intellect which has no limits... end quote.)
Siftei Daat on Avot - "humility" - our sages brought: "every place you find the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, you also find His humility..." (Megilah 31a).

The intent is not that even though the Holy One, blessed be He, is exalted and holy, nevertheless He is humble and is with the downtrodden and humble of spirit. Rather, the secret of humility is that greatness lies specifically in the secret of humility.

Thus we find in the words of our sages (Shemot Rabba 34:1): "He who sits in concealment" (yoshev b'seter elyon..) "elyon" - He is above all His creations. "in the shadow of Sh-adai he will dwell". For the truth of G-d's existence is specifically in "concealment", in "shadow", in "nothingness" (b'ayin).

The secret of the matter is that "nothingness" (ayin) is the true existence. On the contrary, the existence of "substance" (yesh) does not exist in the creation. Rather, it belongs to the merkava of tumah (side of evil forces). The secret of the merkava of kedusha (side of holiness) is in the existence of "nothingness" (ayin).

Likewise for the matter of torah and this is what we learned that one of the 48 ways the torah is acquired is "humility".

Our sages said: "why are words of torah compared to water? To teach you that just like water flows out of high places and goes to low places, so too words of torah endure only in one of lowly/humble spirit" (Taanit 7a).

They further said: "what is meant by 'the curves of your thighs are like jewels' (Shir 7:2)? Why is the torah compared to a thigh? To teach you that just like a thigh is in concealment, so too words of torah are in concealment" (Sukkah 49b). For the torah dwells only in "concealment", "by one of lowly/humble spirit", "in a low place", in the secret of the existence of "nothingness". For this is the true existence. (Daat Torah, chelek 2, pg.144-6).
Daat Zekenim on Pirkei Avot, writings of Rabeinu Yerucham haLevi of Mir - "humility" - our sages said (Eiruvin 55a): " 'it (the torah) is not in the Heavens' (Devarim 30:12) - you will not find it among those of haughty spirit."

And in Bava Metzia 99a: "the holy ark (miraculously) did not take up any space (in the holy of holies)".

Without a doubt, all the miracles done for our ancestors in the temple were for a purpose. This particular miracle appears to be in order to teach people the way of torah. For those of haughty spirit take up a large space and are recognizable from far away.

Conversely, the humble person does not take up any space at all. For he is as if he does not exist. This is what the miracle is hinting at. The ark and tablets took up no space at all (if one measured the length between both sides of the ark and the walls it was miraculously equal to the length between the two walls). For the torah is not found among the haughty of spirit.

Rather, a man needs to conduct himself as if he does not exist at all. See the talmud (Sotah 21b): "R. Yochanan says: words of torah endure only in one who makes himself as if he does not exist, as written: 'but wisdom, from nothing (ayin) you will find it' (Job 28:12)".

Then fortunate is he and it is good for him (Kochvei Ohr pg.157).
Ohr Yitzchak - "the torah is acquired through 48 things (devarim)" - he did not say "maalot (levels)" (like by malchut-kingship). For a man who thinks of himself as having attained "levels" - certainly he has not fulfilled the "48 things". For the torah is not acquired through "levels" (maalot), that a man thinks he has attained a level.

This is what the midrash (Bamidbar Rabba) states that the torah is acquired only by someone who makes himself into a desert. Thus, the torah is compared to water (Taanit 7a), just like water flows from a high place to a low place, so too the holy torah goes from its lofty source above to the humble man. And it endures only in someone who makes himself into a desert. But this person who stands tall and thinks himself as having attained levels - the torah does not endure in him. The name "torah" does not fulfill in him and does not act at all on a man who has a "level".

For our sages said: "why is it called torah? Because it teaches/instructs (moreh) a man the path of truth to G-d. But this person who considers himself as having attained a level, it is a sign that he did not learn lishma, namely, lishma of the torah, in order that it teaches him the torah. For this that he wants for himself some level to acquire torah- then it is not called torah but rather just like any other study.

#8 - joyousness

Tiferet Yisrael - "joyousness" - through learning with joy, the words of torah will be firmly grasped in his heart.
Midrash Shmuel - "with joy" - for if he does not learn with joy and the torah is a burden on him, in the end he will become weary and abandon the study. But when he learns with joy, with joy and song, then he will "be constantly intoxicated in her love" (Mishlei 5:19). For torah and joy are two inseparable brothers . For "the statutes of G-d are right, rejoicing the heart" (Tehilim 19:8). Furthermore, the torah itself was the delight of G-d, as written: "I was his delight from day to day" (Mishlei 8:30).. Thus it does not abide in a place of sadness but rather in a place of joy.
Ruach Chaim - "with joy" - for one who learns with joy will attain more than several hours in sadness. Furthermore, the torah is the delight (shaashuim) of G-d. One needs to rejoice at such a great privilege.
Matanat Avot - "with joy" - for joy and sadness come to a man if he attains or loses something truly important to him. One who is told that he profited a million dollars will certainly rejoice greatly. For money is important to him. Thus, if he does not at all rejoice in torah and mitzvot, this shows they are not valuable in his eyes. But if one realizes that torah is worth billions and billions, etc. etc. of years of happiness and eternal spiritual pleasure, how can one not rejoice even as much as winning the lottery?
Yachel Yisrael - "with joy" - it is clear that one who learns out of love and joy will succeed more in his study. He strives to utillize all his time for toil in torah. He is interested, he checks, delves deeply, he draws out more and more joy from the wellspring of torah..
Chatam Sofer, drashot 2:400 - "with joy" - our sages teach (Shabbat 30b) that the Shechinah (divine presence) rests [on a person] only when there is joy and likewise [the Shechina rests] on words of Halacha.

The talmud asks there: "but we have learned:'if a student sits before his Rabbi and his lips do not drip bitterness - he will not see a good sign (siman tov) in his learning" (Shabbat 30b).

The talmud answers: "this [joyousness] refers to before he started learning and that [awe/fear/seriousness] refers to after he started learning".

The explanation is that a man needs to rejoice for meriting to toil in torah. Namely, the blessing on the torah BEFORE learning. But not that the toil in torah itself needs to be in order to rejoice his heart. For on the contrary, then he needs to sit in awe (b'eimah).

But nevertheless, through this (awe/seriousness) he merits to reach the truth in the halachah and the bitterness becomes sweet. However, his joy should never be [directly] through the halachah (study) itself.
Maharal - "with joy" - for simcha (joy) is a great midah (trait). For when a man is with joy, he is in shleimut (wholeness). And through this, he receives the torah which is the shleimut (wholeness) of man. But when a man is in pain, then he is in [a state of] lacking, and he does not receive the torah which is shleimut (wholeness) of man.

The general principle is that a man is not fit for this divine wholeness, ie the torah, except through simcha-joy which is wholeness of the soul.

But when a man's soul is joyous, then his soul is fit to receive the shleimut (wholeness/ perfection) of the torah.

(R.Hartman: and in Chidushei Agadot, Gitin 70a, the Maharal writes: fear (pachad) weakens the power of the soul (machlish koach hanefesh). For the soul's power is when it is in a state of joy. This matter is known. Joy is the power of the soul while fear weakens the soul. end quote.)

Furthermore, due to the depth of the torah, it requires a clear mind.. This matter does not need any proof. When a man's mind is clear, his heart is more open.. However this point is more connected to the 12th level "yishuv-settling".

#9 - purity

Midrash Shmuel - "purity (taharah)" - for one needs to purify himself from bad thoughts. We find that when our sages said: "at age sixteen for talmud", they also said right after that "at eighteen for chupa (marriage)". For one needs to marry right away so as not to have bad thoughts and come to tumah at night. For the torah is holy and pure. It does not rest on an impure place. and as the sage said: "I married at age sixteen. If I had married at fourteen, I would have said: 'a thorn in the eye of the Satan'". Thus he wished to marry at fourteen, even before entering the study of talmud. for it is a great benefit to learning in purity.
Matanat Avot - "with purity" - the importance of learning torah with purity of heart and body is well known. The midrash says: "torah is compared to oil - just like in a barrel of oil, if one adds drops of water, a corresponding amount of oil will flow out, so too for words of torah, if one enters useless talk (devarim betelim) in the mind, corresponding words of torah come out".

As known, all the great sages of the generations at all times were always specifically scholars who occupied all their days only in torah and not anything else. For one who occupies himself also with other things besides torah, then even if he learns much torah, but torah with tahara (purity), he will not have.

Likewise for tahara of the body. It is known how meticulous the great torah scholars were in guarding the Takana Ezrah (immersing in a mikveh when needed), even in difficult times. I once heard in the name of Rav Schach zt'l that all the Rabbis whose books were accepted by Klal Yisrael (all the Jewish congregation) were only those who were very meticulous in the Takana Ezrah.

I used to think that the whole matter of tumah and taharah was something completely virtual and relevant only to matters of terumah and kodashim (temple offerings) and it has no practical connection to matters of this world. But then I was shown that Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote that Eliyahu Hanavi sprinkled on his teacher, the Arizal ashes of the red heifer. And due to this, he attained what he attained. And if tumah and tahara do not change anything, why was it necessary to sprinkle the ashes on him?

Rather, we must say that a pure man attains much more in torah than a tamei man, even if the tamei man became impure accidentally. For tumah is not a sin but a kind of lacking.
Mishnat Chachamim, maharam chagiz - "purity" - know that even though they said: "words of torah do not receive tumah-impurity" (Berachot 22a), nevertheless go and see that the sages were very stringent in its tahara-purity to the extent that they expounded the verse: "for he disgraced the word of G-d [that soul shall be utterly cut off]" (Bamidbar 15:31) saying "this refers to one who reads words of torah in dirty places and alleyways" (Berachot 24b). Notice that here it uses the double language "hikaret tikaret (utterly cut off)", unlike other sins with penalty of Karet (cut off).

And if it is so severe for one whose body is clean and only that he reads in unclean surrounding, how much more so for one whose body and soul is contaminated by the sins in his hand.

For then the torah becomes as a "death potion" (sam hamavet) instead of being an elixir of life (sam chaim). Thus, I heard and learned that it is good for a torah scholar to first think thoughts of teshuva (repentance) and to recite Tehilim (Psalm) 51. Both will combine to prepare and purify oneself to study G-d's torah.. It is also good and wonderful that one's body be clean of all filth and that one's clothes be clean and his table be pure (tahor)..
Chidah, Pituchei Chotam, on devarim 14:1-2 "you are sons to G-d... for you are a holy people to the L-ord your G-d" - G-d chose the Jewish people to be to Him a holy nation. Through torah and good deeds that they do, they strengthen and make soldiers of holiness to fortify and exalt the machaneh Shechinah (encampment of the Shechinah/powers of holiness). For through toiling in torah lishma and through mitzvot and good deeds done leshem shamayim, good angels are created as known.

So too, G-d forbid, for the opposite. When people do bad deeds, evil angels are created which become soldiers for the sitra achra (forces of evil).

That which causes this or that is: if a man always places G-d before his eyes and knows clearly that G-d observes him in all details and fear Him - through this certainly he will be abashed and embarrassed and will not stray away from G-d. This is as king David said: "I have set G-d always before Me; because He is at My right hand, I shall not be shaken" (Tehilim 16:8).

But if a man removes the veil of shame from before his face and does not think that G-d is watching him - then he is given over to the hand of the Sitra Achra and he sinks into all bad traits.

The word "ayin" (eye) has gematria with kollel of Samael. This hints that if a man guards his eyes from seeing bad, he places G-d before his eyes - through this Samael does not rule over him. But if his eyes are open to see bad, he gives Samael control over him and is given over to Samael to do with him as he wishes..

The holiness depends primarily on your eyes. If you think always in G-d before your eyes, through this holiness is recognizable upon you. But if not, then no. Therefore, be very careful and guard your soul very much..

#10 - attending to the sages

Tiferet Yisrael - "attending to the sages" (shimuch chachamim) - through being around them always when serving them, he will learn alot of practical halacha from their deeds and as our sages said: "serving torah [scholars] is greater than learning" (Berachot 7b).
Midrash Shmuel - "attending to the sages, examination with peers, pilpul (debate) with students (shimush chachamim, dikduk chaverim, pilpul talmidim)" - the intent is that a person becomes whole in torah through these three. Namely, his teachers, peers, and students, as brought: "I have learned much from my teachers and even more from my friends, but from my students I have learned more than from all" (Taanit 7a)...
Matanat Avot - "attending to the sages" - it is not for nothing that our sages said (Berachot 7b): "the service of the Torah is greater than the study thereof.." For even if one learns the whole torah, nevertheless it remains by him as theoretical only. In order to learn how one conducts himself practically (l'maaseh) according to the torah one learned, one needs to attach himself to a great Rabbi and learn from his ways and conducts, and to observe how he translates the torah to practical life.

The Chazon Ish already wrote in his letters something like: "it is impossible for a man to attain the light and wisdom of torah except through the soul of a living Rabbi in his generation".

For even if one reads holy books all his life and he has absorbed much torah in his brain but nevertheless his body will remain inanimate just like the books he reads.

For in order to live according to the torah it is necessary to learn from someone who lives according to the torah and not just to learn from the torah itself.
Maharal - "attending to the sages" - that he is meshamesh chachamim (attending/serving the sages). Then he is fit to receive the torah. And in the talmud (Berachot 7b): "the service of the Torah is greater than the study thereof. For it is written (Kings II 3:2): 'here is Elisha the son of Shafat, who poured water on the hands of Eliyahu'".

The explanation is that one who is meshamesh (serving) a talmid chacham, the talmid connects to the Rav through shimush (serving) of torah and through this he receives from the Rav. For without a doubt, when the wick is brought close to the candle, the candle ignites the wick.

So too, when the student draws close to the Rav through serving him, the Rav bestows (mashpia) torah on him. But when one merely learns from the Rav, he does not draw as close as when he serves the Rav himself..

#11 - examination with peers

Tiferet Yisrael - "examination with peers" (dikduk chaverim) - in order to hear what they deduced from the words of the rabbi.
Shevet Sofer, ohel Rachel 16 - "examination with/of peers" (dikduk chaverim) - a man needs to be very meticulous in the friends around him that they be upright, G-d fearing and whole. A young man who exiles himself from his home to a yeshiva and needs to live in a place with other young men, he must be very careful that there not be among them a bad friend who will try to push him away from the way of torah. For a person's friends have very great influence on him.

#12 - pilpul with students

Tiferet Yisrael - "pilpul (fine argumentation) with students" - through the questions and answers between them, the subject broadens and also they will come to new insights (chidushim).
Maharal - "pilpul (fine argumentation) with students" - for friends (chaverim) sharpen each other and the Rav in wisdom. And in Taanit: "why is the torah compared to a tree? Because just like small pieces of wood kindle big pieces of wood, so too in torah, the students sharpen the Rav... Thus the Halacha is broadened through the questions. This matter is clear.
David Bimetzuda - "pilpul (fine argumentation) with students" - when he merits to have students, pilpul (sharp logic) is more found among the young men than older men. The young men debate with each other in pilpul (sharp logic) before their Rabbi. Through their pilpul, he gains insight in many things and extracts many judgments (dinim) from the torah in the way of (Taanit 7a): "I learned most from my students".
Etz Avot (yaakov emden) - "pilpul (fine argumentation) with students" - as written: (Taanit 7a): "I learned most from my students". For since the students are not yet whole in wisdom, and also since they try to show [off] their powers to listen and understand, thus they debate in sharp logic whether in truth or falsehood and confusion. They are more heated with very shap logic than the elders who are whole in wisdom. Through this the Rav also sharpens. For he needs to stand on their error, as "a man does not stand on words of torah unless he first erred in them" (Gitin 43a). By understanding their error, the truth is clarified. For every thing becomes known through its opposite. Evil is distinguished from good and likewise truth is distinguished through falsehood. And since error and confusion is common by the students, the doubts and views increase with more students. Through this the Rabbi extracts darkness to light of truth.

#13 - settling [of the mind]

Maharal - "settling" - ie settling of the mind (yishuv daat). For if his mind is not settled (meyushevet), he is unable to learn.
Tiferet Yisrael - "settling (b'yishuv)" - that his mind be settled and not rushed in his words. Some explain that he be proficient in the settling of the world (yishuv olam), whether in derech eretz (ways of the land) or in knowledge and study of the wisdom in nature. This will help him understand the torah which includes everything and also esteem him in the eyes of the public.
Midrash Shmuel - "settling [of the mind]" - the intent is that if one is asked a question, he should not answer hastily but rather wait until the matter has settled down and been deliberated, similar to "be deliberate in judgment"..
Siftei Daat on Avot - "settling (yishuv)" - ie with calmness of mind (yishuv daat). For searching and inquiring in matters of intellect and likewise in study torah and arrive at the halacha - the first condiion for this is serenity and calmness of mind (menucha v'yishuv daat). For one needs to investigate well the matter from all sides and to establish patiently and with peace of mind the correct premises and conclusions which necessarily follow from this matter.

Behold, one who is afflicted with the disease of impulsiveness (behilut), and not just one impulsive in his deeds, for it is possible for him to walk calmly but he is impulsive and stormy in his mind. Behold, impulsiveness of the mind (behilut hadaat) is what wears out and destroys all good contentment (nachat tov). For the impulsive person is incapable of having peace of mind, to contemplate an intellectual matter for even a short time due to the scattering of his mind.

Not only is such a person incapable of studying a torah matter and arriving at the halacha, but so too for all wisdoms and knowledge. For he is the opposite of the first condition for seeking wisdom.

This is what scripture says: "lust seeks separation" (Mishlei 18:1), ie one who seeks lust is always rushing back and forth, jumping over thorns and thistles. He moves from one lust to another and one will to another. He is a man of scattered mind. "he who is separated seeks lust; in all sound wisdom, he is exposed" (Mishlei 18:1). For he and wisdom are two opposites.

The wise man said: "there is no scattering like scattering of the mind and no tranquility like tranquility of the mind". Tranquility of mind is the pinnacle of virtues and the purpose of the whole creation.

But scattering of the soul and impulsiveness of the mind - through this, man's heart turns from composure of the mind. This is a general lacking that goes against the whole torah. For the torah is built only on peace of mind as our sages said: "whoever deliberates his ways in this world merits and sees the salvation of the Holy One, blessed be He" (Sotah 5b). But the impulsive of mind is far from G-d and every matter of holiness. (Chochma umussar 1:11, 152-53)
David Bimetzuda - "settling" - ie after there was already pilpul (sharp logic/analysis), to not leave the matter as kushia or teiku (unresolved) if he has the ability to toil more and resolve the difficulties and not leave them as teiku (unresolved). He should not say "let us leave this now, and next time we will look into it". Rather, at this time to toil and try resolve the matter till the end. For now he is proficient (baki) in all sides and details of the topic and if he just toils some more, he can resolve it. This is a big manner in acquiring the torah.

#14,15 - knowledge of scripture and mishna

Midrash Shmuel - "scriptures and mishna" - ie one needs to be proficient in them. For scripture and mishna are the foundation upon which the house of the talmud stands. How can one build a house with no foundation?..
Mishnat Chachamim, maharam chagiz - "knowledge of Scripture and Mishna" - for without a doubt, Scripture and Mishna are the two pillars upon which the talmud is built from which halacha (Jewish law) is derived. Go and see regarding their importance: "whoever lacks Bible, Mishna, and derech eretz (secular pursuits) does not belong to civilization" (Mishna Kidushin 40b)...

One should also learn Midrashim and Agadot which draw the heart of man to the service of G-d. He should be used to reading them and books of mussar like "Duties of the Heart", "Reisheit Chochma", or the like, at least two hours per day. This should be with condition before deed - "in order to do" (al menat lekayem). For I have seen one person who goes all day with the book "Reisheit Chochma" and nevertheless peddles slander (holech rachil), instigates disputes and arguments, takes revenge and bears grudges like a snake. He is not a torah scholar (talmid chacham) but considers himself wise. And if we examine him, we will find all bad traits and afflictions (kol mum vkol negah), an evil eye, an evil heart, "a friend of the destroyer".

I saw another similar person who considers himself the head of the lamdanim (sharp scholars) but he possesses all these bad traits. May G-d save us from them and all evil troubles, an evil neighbor and an evil eye.
Matanat Avot - "mishna" - as known, the talmud brings: "with who do you find the war (milchama) of torah? With he who has amassed bundles of mishna" (Sanhedrin 42a). And in Horayot: "every one needs wheat merchants" (ie those who know many mishnas).

For the mishna is the foundation of the entire oral law and the intent is that the more a person has knowledge in all the parts of torah, the more his torah will be deeper and reach closer to the truth. I heard in the name of Rabbi Aharon Y.L. Shteinman zt'l that one who lacks knowledge in torah, not only does he lack what he does not know but also in what he knows he lacks. For his knowledge is not whole before he is baki (proficient) in the whole torah. Everything is relative. Thus, one who knows half of the Shas, then he has only half knowledge even on what he learned..

#16 - minimizing business dealings

Matanat Avot - "minimizing business, minimizing derech eretz (worldly affairs), minimizing pleasures, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing laughter" - all the six "minimizing" brought now are things that on one hand, it is impossible to do without them completely. For they are part of the welfare of society (chelek miyishuv olam). But on the other hand, they form a contradiction to acquiring torah. Therefore, too much of them can cause one to stray from torah study.

In all these things, one needs great wisdom and judgment. The "minimal" needs to be enough so that one does not annul them completely. But the "minimal" must not drag one into a destructive and dangerous excess in these matters.
Matanat Avot - "minimizing business" - the intent is that man needs to find for himself a source of livelihood. It is impossible to not do anything. For thus G-d decreed that the divine flow (shefah) which comes down from Him to the world needs to manifest on some sort of effort (hishtadlut) according to the natural order and not begin and end in a miraculous manner. This is as the torah says: "and the L-ord your G-d will bless you in all that you do".

But on the other hand, in order that a man not do excess hishtadlut (efforts) in his livelihood which removes him from torah study and peace of mind, one needs to place before his eyes always the powerful saying of the Chazon Ish: "excess efforts do not help at all" (ribui hishtadlut eino mo'il meuma).
Midrash Shmuel - "minimizing business" - for the torah is not found with the merchants and dealers who descend to the sea in ships, as scripture states: "it is not over the sea" (Devarim 30:13).

He wrote "minimizing business" (miut sechora) and not no business. For it is impossible without any business dealings at all since "all torah without work will in the end be annulled [and drag sin]" (Avot 2:2). Rather, let him minimize work and toil in torah.

That which he said "minimum business" and not "minimum work", this is because work is labor of the body which weakens strength. Thus it is evident that one needs to minimize this. But even for business which is not [physical] labor and on the contrary a man enjoys it, even so, he exhorts to minimize this.
Maharal - "minimizing business (miut schora)" - ie to not be a businessman who chases after merchandise. Thus they said on the verse: "the torah is not on the other side of the sea" (Devarim 30:13) - "you will not find the torah by merchants and businessmen" (Eiruvin 55a). We explained this already in Netivot Olam (NetivTorah ch.2) and also earlier (avot 2:5) and this is not the place to elaborate.

#17 - minimizing derech eretz (worldly affairs)

Matanat Avot - "minimizing derech eretz (way of the land)" - I once heard from the Gaon, Rabbi Rachamim Nikravish that one who learns torah does not need to be excessively courteous (menumas). For if he feels obliged to every person who knocks on him during his torah study and to join every occasion (wedding, etc.) where it seems his presence is important there, there is no hope that he will have much free time left to learn.

Thus it is evident that here too it is necessary to minimize and it is impossible to annul it completely. For almost no man can be disconnected from all his surroundings and live without speaking at all to any friends. And likewise every person needs to show affection sometimes to his friends and neighbors and to politely show interest in their affairs and welfare. But just like all "minimizing", one needs to know how to guard this "minimizing" and not be drawn into long drawn out conversations in the name of "derech eretz" and "friendship".
Tiferet Yisrael - "minimizing derech eretz (way of the land)" - marital relations which weakens one's energy and memory..
Midrash Shmuel - "minimizing derech eretz (way of the land)" - this refers to marital relations. For the land depends on this for all creatures.. and it is known what our sages said: "there is a small organ in man. If he satiates it, it is hungry. But if he starves it, it is satiated".. Thus our sages set times such as torah scholars on sabbath nights etc. This is derech eretz to restrain oneself and not approach the woman besides the fixed times.

Now the Tanna is teaching us for one who wishes to sanctify himself by [refraining from] what is permitted to him and minimize even that which is "the way of the land"..
Chida, chasdei avot - "minimizing derech eretz, minimizing pleasures.. minimizing laughter" - some explain minimizing derech eretz to refer to the way of men (marital relations). We may say according to the talmud which says if the wife artzui martze before him, chayiv lepokda (if the wife shows desire in him, he is obligated to engage in relations with her), even if he is a talmid chacham.

Thus he said: minimizing laughter, minimizing pleasures. For through not laughing with her and not indulging in food and drink, he will not come to "dance in the circle". And then he will be minimizing derech eretz.
Maharal - "minimizing derech eretz" - i.e. good character traits, as written: "if there is no derech eretz, there is no torah".

Derech Eretz also refers to work. Even though he brought earlier "all torah not accompanied with work will in the end be annulled" (Avot 2:2), but nevertheless one should not make his work primary as brought in the talmud:
"The early generations made their torah [study] primary and their work secondary and they succeeded in both. But the later generations made their work primary and their torah [study] secondary and they succeeded in neither" (Berachot 35b).
And even though he said earlier "minimizing business dealings (miut sechora)", this is not difficult. For I may think work is different since he said earlier: "if there is no work there is no torah" (Avot 3:17). Therefore it was needed to say "minimizing derech eretz (work)".

And "minimizing business dealings" teaches that even though it is only business dealings, nevertheless he should not do (excessively). And even though business dealing is not always like [manual] labor, nevertheless he should likewise not make business dealings primary.

#18 - minimizing pleasures

Ruach Chaim - "minimizing pleasures" - as written in Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu (Rabba ch.26): "before a man prays that words of torah enter inside him, let him first pray that indulgences of this world not enter inside his innards.
Matanat Avot - "minimizing [physical] pleasures (taanug)" - the pious author of "Duties of the Heart" wrote that love of this world and love of the next world cannot exist simultaneously in one's heart. For they are like two wives and are completely contradictory to each other.

The reason is that a person cannot run in two opposite directions simultaneously. For in order to run in one direction, he needs to flee from the other direction. So too for chasing after physical pleasures (taanugim). Even though certainly all the pleasures G-d created in His world were not created in order to make us suffer. Namely, that we see them and strengthen to flee from them. But nevertheless, running and chasing after them necessarily causes one to flee from the torah which is found in the opposite direction.

The main thing incumbent on us in the service of G-d is to rule over this hungry horse (the body) and give it what it needs. But we must also fix the right amount on every thing so that we don't cause a situation where the horse controls the rider.

It is impossible for one to abstain completely from any physical pleasures and tell oneself each time "not now". But on the other hand, if one does not muzzle his lusts at all, the end of his spiritual life is very near.

Therefore, it is proper for every man to take on himself certain fixed times whereby he abstains from certain pleasures. For example, to not eat any sweets one day of the week or one day of the month or the like. Similarly for other matters. The purpose of this afliction is only so the matter does not go out of control, in order to ensure that one rules over his lusts and not the other way around.
Yachel Yisrael - "minimizing pleasures" - G-d created man with different inclinations in order to maintain the body which is a vessel for the soul (neshama). It is man's duty to examine which of his deeds are done in order to strengthen his body and guard his health and which are done just for pleasure.

Excess pleasure beyond the needs of the body is detrimental to torah study. These two, torah and [physical] pleasures are unable to dwell together. Thus is written in Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu (ch.26): "before a man prays that words of torah enter his body, let him pray that [physical] enjoyments not enter his body".

Nevertheless, the Tanna was careful in his choice of words "minimizing pleasures". For few people are able to live like Rebbi who before his death raised his ten fingers above and said: "Master of the world, it is revealed before You that I toiled in torah with ten fingers and did not benefit from this world even on my small finger" (Ketuvot 104a).

An average person needs to minimize enjoyments in order to attain the peace of mind needed to learn torah. The Rambam in his introduction to chapter five of Avot explains that it is permitted for a man to enjoy the pleasures of this world in order, and only in order, that he wil be able to serve his Creator with more strength. Therefore, even when one enjoys physical pleasures, he should try to minimize them, as much as he can, to what is necessary and not more..
Midrash Shmuel - "minimizing pleasures" - this seems difficult for earlier he said: "this is the way of torah: eat bread with salt, measured water, sleep on the ground and live a life of pain". Those things are all afflictions, not just minimizing pleasures.

From here is a support to those who explain that mishna (ex.Rashi) to be referring to the poor and not the rich.
Namely, that even if one cannot afford more than bread with salt, etc. nevertheless, he should not refrain from torah study.

But for one who is rich and eats meat and drinks wine in order to increase strength to toil in torah, then it is good for him on condition that he does not enter the domain of excess pleasure (ribui tanugim). Thus he said minimum pleasure. For a bit is good but too much is bad.
Maharal - "minimizing pleasures" - for one who chases after bodily enjoyments is a bodily and physicality person (baal guf u'baal chomer). Thus it is not proper for him to acquire wisdom which is the opposite of the body, as we explained earlier regarding "this is the way of torah" (Avot 6:5).

There is to ask here. For here it implies one needs to avoid much pleasures (taanug) implying some pleasures (taanug b'alma) which is not much is permitted. But earlier regarding "this is the way of the torah, eat bread with salt, etc" (which implies no taanug).

This is not at all difficult. For we already explained there that the intent is not to afflict oneself. For when our sages said: "the torah endures by one who slays himself over it" (Shabbat 83b), the intent is that he does this for torah. Namely, if he can only learn torah if he subsists on just bread and salt as we expained. Then he should do so. But not for nothing.

Nevertheless, for taanug more than needed he should not do. For then he turns to the bodily lusts and this is the opposite of torah.
Yosher Divrei Emet, ot 4 - "minimizing pleasures" - in truth, to cling to G-d through torah and mitzvot , many conditions are necessary. On this the people of our generation, even great torah scholars, closed their eyes from these conditions which are said in the mishna (Avot 6). They imagine themselves possessing part of them or all of them and think that they are truly baalei torah (scholars). Due to this, they speak against the tzadikei Olam (very righteous).

But in truth, if they wanted to examine a bit on the conditions and to look at themselves frankly, they would realize that they did not merit even a tiny bit of a tiny bit of even the smallest condition. Then they would certainly repent to G-d and seek the word of G-d how and what is the path to go.

The conditions are many. The smallest of all of them is to be divested of the lust for food, drink, sleep, marital relations, and to break the bodily powers until even at the time one must do one of these things, he will not consider anything of this worldly pleasure due to the great fire in his heart for torah and service of G-d out of love of G-d.This is like one who is so joyous at a great business profit that he does not feel at all the small pleasure of eating.

This is the meaning of "minimizing pleasures". He did not say "minimal pleasures" but rather "minimizing". For that which one needs to have minimal goes without saying. Rather even the necessary, one needs to minimize. Namely that he increases pleasure and desire of clinging to G-d in his heart through torah until the physical pleasures are as extinguished like a candle in broad daylight...

#19 - minimizing sleep

Tiferet Yisrael - "minimizing sleep" - for besides wasting time, excessive sleep dulls the mind and weakens one's enthusiasm (charitzut). However, insufficient sleep also greatly damages mind and body..
Matanat Avot - "minimizing sleep" - this is clear and requires almost no explanation. For it is impossible for almost everyone to learn until he has no strength at all (like the Chazon Ish who would learn until he had just a drop of strength left, enough to go on the bed near his chair).

On the other hand, one who sleeps late until he "slips out of bed" will evidently waste large chunks of his life. Therefore, every person needs to evaluate how much sleep he needs and to give himself this sleep gladly and without worry - but not more than this.

As known, it is also possible to train oneself slowly, slowly, to reduce the hours of sleep. For example, to decide that for one year he will try to reduce his sleep time by one hour. It is worth trying. I am speaking from experience!
Chatam Sofer, drashot 1:212 - "minimizing sleep" - a man should give two thirds [time] for his soul and one third to his body. For he must not muzzle his body completely since the he would die. Nor should he divide equally since the soul is greater than the body.

Therefore they said: "I should have slept. Then (AZ) I would have been at rest" (AZ=8 gematria)" (Iyov 3:13) - that one sleeps eight hours. And we explained elsewhere that all needs of this world are called "sleep". Thus one third of the day for them and two thirds for toil in the service of G-d.
Maharal - "minimizing sleep" - for if he sleeps excessively he does not learn his studies properly, as written: "you shall contemplate in it day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8). For this is the way of the torah - to toil in it day and night.

(R.Hartman: in Netiv Hatorah ch.3 the Maharal writes: in Eiruvin 21b on the verse "black as a raven" (Shir 5:11) the talmud there says: "on who do you find torah? on he who rises early and leaves late night on them in the Beit Midrash.." For a man needs to cleave to the torah completely until he does not separate from it. If he does not do thus, he will not merit the torah. For he needs to become one with the Sichli (intellect). Furthermore, a man needs to have great diligence. For the torah is not like other physical things which are under time. If a man conducts himself with the torah as if it is something in time, and his torah study is according to hours and times - he will not acquire the torah. Therefore, one must rise early and leave late on them. For this is the matter of the intellect which is not under time. It is always, without time. end quote.)

Know also that sleep is a very bodily matter as we explained earlier (Avot 3:10) by "morning sleep..". An when a man is drawn after sleep, he is drawn very much after the body and he distances from the Sichli (intellect)..
Midrash Shmuel - "minimizing sleep" - that he rises at midnight to toil in torah, as the verse states: "at midnight I will rise to give thanks unto You, etc." (Tehilim 119:62). And the Zohar exhorts on this many times. For the Shechina (divine presence) and all the tzadikim (righteous) in Gan Eden listen to his voice, as hinted in the verse: "you who sit in the gardens, the friends hearken to your voice" (Shir 8:13). And this time is especially successful for torah study.

Furthermore, when a man sleeps he is holding on to the tree of death (ilana d'mota). For sleep is one sixtieth of death and the torah is the tree of life.. Thus the two are opposites of each other. And if a man loves to sleep, it sticks to him also after he wakes up from his sleep. He will not be able to hold on to the tree of life.

On this scripture says: "do not love sleep lest you become poor, open your eyes and be sated with bread" (Mishlei 20:13). The intent is that there is no wealth like torah wealth. And if he loves sleep, he will be annulled from torah study and become poor in torah..
Ruach Chaim - "minimizing sleep" - for sleep is 1/60th of death (Berachot 57b) and is called Ilana d'Mota (tree of death), while the torah is called a "tree of life" and scripture says: "the fear of G-d prolongs days; but the years of the wicked shall be shortened" (Mishlei 10:27). For day was created for action and night for rest. Our sages said: "he who does not add learning [at night] in winter.." (Taanit 31a).

Thus one who extends night into day is as if he made the day longer than it is.

This is "the fear of G-d prolongs days" - it increases the day from night. "but the years of the wicked shall be shortened". For that which the wicked sleep [even] during the day, they reduce their life. For when sleeping they are as dead.

We may explain further that since sleep is 1/60th of death, then the 1/60th is according to each person's level at death, whether for good or bad.

The tzadik cleaves to the Shechina when he dies. So too when he sleeps, his soul ascends to the Metivta d'Rakia (heavenly academy). But this is only 1/60th, not like the level after his death. For it is impossible while his soul is attached to the physical body.

But for the wicked since when he dies he goes to Kaf Hakela (slingshot of the soul), so too when he sleeps his soul travels in the world and is pushed away from all places. This is sufficient for the understanding person.

Thus for the wicked, when he sleeps, he lacks the wholeness (Shlemut) of a man. Rather he is considered like an animal or a dead man.

But the tzadikim increase wholeness in their sleep. Thus "the fear of G-d prolongs days" for he lives when asleep like when awake. But "the years of the wicked shall be shortened" - his lifetime is shortened.

#20 - minimizing talk

Tiferet Yisrael - "minimizing talk" - i.e. unimportant words, but a bit is good for torah so that his mind rests a bit from this.
Midrash Shmuel - "minimizing talk" - i.e. mundane speech (sichat chulin), as scripture says: "you shall speak in them (vedibarta bam)" (Devarim 6:7) which our sages expounded "in them" but not in idle speech.

And even regarding study, we find our sages brought: "all my life I grew up around the sages and I found nothing better for the body than silence". And if words are silver, silence is gold. And even if it is impossible without speech, nevertheless minimize it as much as possible.

This is the way of the torah itself, to minimize and reduce its words. For we find many judgments and Halachot which the torah reveals through one extra letter "Vav" or some other letter, not wanting to lengthen and increase speech.

So too for a man who toils in torah, he should do like the torah. And even when he learns, let him minimize his words and when teaching, to use clean, concise and clear words.
Ruach Chaim - "minimizing talk" - as our sages said: "for every idle talk that enters the ears of a man, corresponding words of torah come out" (Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:3).
Metzach Aharon, in name of Vilna Gaon - "minimal talk" - ie to speak a bit (of mundane speech). For if one learns a lot without interruption, his mind will become confused (burnt out). Therefore in order to succeed, one needs light talk sometimes.
Maharal - "minimizing talk (miut sicha)" - we explained this earlier (Avot 1:17). For "one who increases words increases foolishness". We elaborated in its place regarding "I have not found anything as good for the body as silence" (Avot 1:17). For silence is a sign of wisdom and one who increases speech does not have a sign of wisdom, since speaking annuls the work of the intellect. Therefore this matter of minimizing talk (miut sicha) is a great foundation to wisdom.

(R.Hartman: in Netiv Hashtika 2:97a: it is written in Mishlei/Proverbs: "he who has knowledge keeps back his words; he whose breath is dear is a man of understanding" (17:21) - Shlomo wants to say that one who refrains from talking is a man of knowledge. Therefore, he abstains from speech.. for when one increases speech, the main thing by him is the nefesh medaberet (speaking soul) which is connected and joined to the physical and is not completely divested. Therefore he speaks excessively. For his intellect is not divested from the physicality... but by the Chocham (wise man), the intellect is primary and the power of intellect annuls the power of speech which is a physical power.." end quote. And in Chidushei Agadot (Kidushin 49b), he explains according to this why women, fools, and gentiles talk a lot.. and there in Sanhedrin 101a: "go and see, when a man thinks a deep thought he shuts his mouth and does not speak")
Matanat Avot - "minimizing talk" - as mentioned earlier, it is not possible for one to be disconnected from all those around him and to not speak to anyone, not even one's wife. Thus, a person needs to draw a line somewhere between what is the forbidden and dangerous "excessive" and what is needed.

Another matter to consider is for each person to fix times which is kodesh kadasim (holy of holies) for torah study. And in these fixed times, even one word of mundane speech is excessive for him. While for other times, he can permit himself some talk according to his strength and knowledge of himself and the person he is speaking with so as not to offend him.

#21 - minimizing laughter

Tiferet Yisrael - "minimizing laughter" - a bit of humor (milta d'biducha) is also good in order to bring joy to the mind and strengthen enthusiasm and memory.. (Pesachim 117a).
Nachalat Avot, Abarbanel - "minimizing laughter" - in the talmud: "it is forbidden for a person to fill his mouth with laughter in this world, as written (Tehilim 126:2): 'then our mouths will fill with laughter'" (Berachot 31a).

That is to say, when will our mouths fill with laughter? When the nations will say: "G-d has done great things with them" (Tehilim 126:2). I already mentioned that a happy life is with joy but not laughter. For joy is from the soul (poal hanefesh) while laughter is a pleasure of the body and its lightness (taanug haguf vekaluto). On this Shlomo said: "of laughter it is silly [and of joy, what use is it]" (Kohelet 2:2), ie for laughter he said of a man who is entrenched in it that he is silly and foolish in it. But for joy it is not so. For what evil and damage are caused from it? Thus he said: "what does it do?"
Matanat Avot - "minimizing laughter" - every person needs a bit of humor and laughter sometimes to release tensions and pressures or the like. But on the other hand, one who chases after laughter all his life, then when he no longer has what to laugh on, he will begin to busy himself in letzanut (mockery, making light of important things) which is completely forbidden. Then he will "merit" to belong to "the group of letzim (scoffers) who do not receive the face of the Shechina" (Sotah 42a).

Many good people fell into this thinking that "minimizing laughter" gives them a license to make a mockery of everything around them near or far..
Maharal - "minimizing laughter" - [this implies some laughter is not bad. if so] there is to ask: in the talmud it says: "it is forbidden to fill one's mouth with laughter in this world, as written: 'then (in the future) our mouth will fill with laughter'.." (Berachot 31a).

This is not difficult. For only to "fill one's mouth with laughter" (is forbidden) which means excessive laughter. But for basic laughter, he did not say.

Regarding torah however, one needs to minimize laughter completely.. For if one laughs often, he will not merit torah. The reason is that laughter is the opposite of thought which is the intellect. Therefore, laughter annuls the intellect.

You can understand this for laughter originates from frivolity (letzanut) and mockery (hitul) only. And without a doubt, frivolity and mockery are the opposite of intellect. For frivolity has no substance. It is just mockery/nonsense (hitul). But intellect is what is proper according to truth. Therefore, laughter annuls the intellect.

(R.Hartman: earlier in Avot 3:10 he wrote: "speech of children is the opposite of speech of elders. The latter is wisdom but the speech of children is all frivolity, laughter and nonsense. Therefore speech of children is going out of wisdom")

Laughter is not similar to joy. For joy is primarily in the heart only. But laughter is not only in the heart. It is also in deed.

(R.Hartman: in Be'er Hagolah, be'er 4 he wrote: michol (musical instruments) is found among women and especially young women. This is because women and especially young women are not thinkers like men who think much. And all thought prevents joy from going out to action completely. For thought opposes (mitnaged) joy. Therefore for men, joy is in the heart since they have an opposition (mitnaged) which prevents the joy from going out to action. But for young women, there is nothing preventing this for she is not a thinker and thus has joy in action... For joy comes from [feeling] wholeness while thought shows a person how much more he needs to perfect himself.. Man's thoughts are on what is incumbent on him to do. Therefore thought and joy oppose (mitnagdot) each other..." end quote. and in Even Shelema 7:5, the Vilna Gaon writes: "the wise man will not be heard laughing. For due to the heaviness of his wisdom, even all the winds of jest in the world wil not budge him from his place.. but for the fool, even a tiny wind will move his heart and fill his mouth with loud sounds of laughter..")
Ruach Chaim - "minimizing laughter" - for laughter is from the Techol (Berachot 62b) and it is the Sitra Achra as explained in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 21) and it is the opposite of torah.

#22 - slow to anger

Tiferet Yisrael - "slow to anger" - for anger also weakens enthusiasm and memory. It also weakens the body.
Midrash Shmuel - "slow to anger" - to distance from anger. For "anger rests on the bosom of fools" (Kohelet 7:9) and on it scripture says: "you shall not have a strange god in you" and anger is like idolatry and our sages said "whoever gets angry, if he is wise, his wisdom departs from him"..

We may also say that it refers to torah study, that the student not kick at the rebukes of his Rav. And if the Rav casts wrath on the students, let them bear it on their shoulders and not get angry on the Rav who rebukes them. Thus the next trait is a good heart, to not have any grudges in the heart.
Maharal - "slow to anger (orech apayim)" - for if he gets angry, his wisdom departs from him as the Talmud says: 'whoever gets angry, if he is a Chacham (wise man), his wisdom departs from him" (Pesachim 66b)..
Matanat Avot - "slow to anger" - the plain meaning is to rule over one's anger. For "whoever gets angry, if he is a wise man, his wisdom departs from him" (Pesachim 68b). Thus, evidently, the only path to not lose one's wisdom is to overcome anger.

But anger on whom? On every person who angered or angers me. But also and no less - on self anger!

Every person has certain goals in life and he builds some kind of outlook upon which he bases all his conduct. Sometimes he commits a small or big mistake and all of the ideals and outlooks he built up for himself come crumbling down in front of his eyes like the Twin Towers of New York.

What should he do now? Should he get angry at himself saying: "why did I do that? why did I think like that? what a hopeless fool I am!"

Evidently, such anger will get him nowhere. On the contrary, it will cause him deeper foolishness and total loss of will power to rouse himself and try again from the beginning.

Instead he should tell himself: "everything is from Heaven. Certainly, G-d brought me to do this mistake so that I learn from it and change my path in life and previous outlooks".

On this our sages said: "a man does not stand on words of torah unless he first stumbled on them" (Shabbat 120a).

Why does G-d make it like this? To teach a man that no one is perfect. Even the greatest sage who is proficient in the whole torah - he also erred again and again. Despite this, he did not give up and become broken out of great disappointment. Rather, he got up again, dusted off his clothing from the fall and tried again to walk the right path until he reached where he reached. (i.e. minimizing anger also includes minimizing self-anger and self-disappointment).

#23 - good heartedness

Tiferet Yisrael - "goodheartedness" - that his nature be soft, full of favor and kindness to joyously bestow good to others.
Midrash Shmuel - "good heart" - for a man has two hearts, a good heart and an evil heart as our sages expounded: " 'with all your hearts' (in the Shema) - ie with your two yetzers (inclinations), the good inclination and the evil inclination".

Therefore, a man needs to afflict and eradicate (yasir v'yibaer) the evil heart within him. And then the torah will reside in him.. as our sages said: "the ways of G-d are upright, the righteous will walk in them but the wicked will stumble in them" (Hoshea 14:9)...
Maharal - "good heartedness (lev tov)" - for the torah is called "good" and since the torah is called "good", you will find the torah only by someone who is good, namely, he who has a good heart. And when he has a good heart, then he receives the torah which is good. For how can the torah which is good abide in someone who has an evil heart?
Matanat Avot - "good heartedness" - the main thing is to where the heart is drawn. For all the limbs and powers of body and soul are drawn after the heart. Thus one who has a good heart will certainly run with all his strength to do the will of his Maker and to cleave to His torah and commandments.

How does one turn the heart in the right direction? There is only one medicine: to study mussar every day diligently, with feeling of the heart and putting to heart (hitpalut halev ubehashava el halev). After studying mussar, to ask oneself: "what will I do with this? How will I advance with this new knowledge?"

It is not easy work to turn one's heart but only thus does one acquire the torah. It is worth trying!

#24 - emunah chachamim (faith in the sages)

Tiferet Yisrael - "faith in the sages (emunah chachamim)" - that he does not believe everything he hears outside. But he believes the sages in the wisdom of the torah even in what he is unable to understand.
Midrash Shmuel - "emunah chachamim (faith in the sages)" - i.e. to believe all that our sages said as if it were given to Moshe at Sinai. On this it is written: "do not sway from what I tell you right or left" (Devarim 17:11). For if a person does not believe even one thing, the secrets of the torah will not be revealed to him. For in the end, he will become a tzaduki (heretic) because "a sin brings another sin".

Perhaps also he is hinting on the matter of emunah (belief/faith) in G-d. Namely, to not enter oneself to try to reach it through logical inquiry (chakirat hasechel). For then he will tire to find the door. Rather, his emunah (belief/faith) should be like emunah chachamim which is a faithful faith transmitted orally from one man to the other up to Moshe from Sinai.

Through this, the Emunah (faith) will be fixed in his heart. For the path of intellectual grasp is impossible to reach as the wise man said: "if I knew/understood Him, I would be Him".
Maharal - "faith in the sages (emunat chachamim)" - for when one believes in the words of the Chachamim (sages), then he has a cleaving (devekut) with the Chachamim and it is proper for him to acquire their wisdom and be included in them.

But if he does not believe in the words of the Chachamim, how can he become a Chacham (torah sage)?

Thus they said in the talmud (Shabbat 23b): "he who fears (reveres) the Rabbis will himself become a talmid chacham (torah scholar)..
Siftei Daat on Avot - "emunah chachamim (faith in the sages)" - the words of our sages need to be believed by a man as if he saw them with his own eyes (Daat Torah chelek aleph, pg.52).

The secret of emunat chachamim is "drawing after you" (meshucha acharecha Shir Hashirim 1:4), in the secret of "obedience" (tzaytanut). R.Yitzchak Blazer would say that "drawing after you" is as the talmud says: "what is [the acquisition of] meshicha (drawn)? One calls it (the donkey) and it comes" (Kidushin 22b). This is the secret of absolute obedience (tzaytanut b'tachlit)!

A man should know that this matter of "being drawn" is built into human nature, as the Rambam writes: "it is man's nature to be drawn [after the people around him].." (Deot 6:1).

For it is a power implanted in man's nature. Either way, a man is drawn by this power. Only that if he merits, he uses this power to be drawn after our sages, the tzadikim and chasidei olam (righteous and pious of the world). But if a man does not merit, then he is drawn by the rest of the world, to all the reshaim (wicked people) of various sorts. Fortunate is he who merits. (Daat Torah chelek dalet, pg.32).

#25 - accepting suffering

Tiferet Yisrael - "accepting suffering" - this is the trait of forbearance (savlanut). He does not suspect the ways of G-d and guards His commandments with simple faith (derech tumo).
Midrash Shmuel - "accepting suffering" - ie that one longs so much for the torah that even if he is afflicted with sufferings, the sufferings will not distract him from learning torah due to his great love for the torah. Such a person will acquire torah...

Also, he said "accepting suffering" (kabalat yisurim) and not just "suffering (yisurim) to hint that he is not referring just to sufferings that come on him from Heaven but rather also on sufferings which a man takes upon himself willingly. For example: "this is the way of the torah, eat bread with salt..etc. if you do thus..etc." (Avot 6:4)...
Ruach Chaim - "accepting sufferings" - for "sufferings wash/scrub away the sins of a man" (Berachot 6a). If a person is intelligent, he does not wait until G-d sends sufferings upon him. Rather, he takes sufferings upon himself through the yoke of torah, such as "minimizing pleasures" and diligent study which weakens his strength.

Thus, he will gain that the sufferings themselves will be considered a mitzvah by him, besides their segulah to wash/scrub away his sins...
Maharal - "accepting suffering (kabalat hayisurim)" - for when one accepts sufferings, he is fit for torah. Thus they said in the talmud (Berachot 5a): "three good gifts were given to Yisrael and all were given only through sufferings: torah, as written: "fortunate is the man whom You chasten, to teach him of Your torah" (Tehilim 94:12)...

For torah is the intellect and wisdom which is not of bodily measure. Therefore, a man cannot attain the non-body (non-physical) level without minimizing the bodily.

Sufferings diminish the bodily. One can even reach the level of Sichli (intellect) through sufferings. This is what he said here: "accepting suffering", that he accepts on himself to diminish the body of physicality and remove its pettiness. For sufferings remove the pettiness of the body..
Siftei Daat on Avot - "accepting suffering" - ie suffering to fulfill the torah. This is likewise the explanation for what our sages said: "the Holy One, blessed be He, gave three gifts to the Jewish people and all of them were given only through sufferings. They are: torah..." (Berachot 5a).

For in truth a man is not worthy to receive the torah until it is called "his torah" as our sages expounded the verse (Tehilim 1): 'and in his torah..'" (Kidushin 32b). and this occurs only when he is able to bear much for the service of the intellect. Namely, that he trains himself to listen to the advice of his intellect, even if he will suffer greatly due to this. If it is the good path, then he will follow it no matter what and won't budge from the decree of his intellect to not stray from the Cause of causes (G-d). Then he is prepared to receive the torah which is above the intellect. (Chochma umussar 1:245).

#26 - recognizing one's place

Tiferet Yisrael - "knowing one's place" - ie the trait of lowliness (shifluto). Through this he will be humble and toil to increase wisdom.
Midrash Shmuel - "recognizing one's place (hamakir mekomo)" - for when a man is among the wise, he should recognize his place and not say his mind before one greater than him. This also hints that a man must always recognize his true place. For this world is not his place. He is but a stranger in a strange land, a sojourner on the face of the earth, destined to be swallowed by it.

A man needs to always remind himself of the day of his death. To where he is going - to a place of dust, rot, and worms. For that is his true place. Then his heart will be humbled and his sin will be atoned and knowledge, wisdom and understanding will reside in his heart.

One can also explain "recognizing one's place" (makir mekomo), the place appointed for him in Gan Eden. Through this he will strive always to acquire shleimut (perfections), to return to his original place from which he was hewn. This is an opening to the gates of torah...
Ruach Chaim - "recognizing one's place" - he knows that his body will return to the dust and his soul to heaven. If so, who is it better to serve, body or soul?
Matanat Avot - "recognizing one's place" - each person needs to realize the tremendous potential within himself. On the other hand, one needs to know his current level and what is fitting for him. He should not think he is already a great torah scholar and can be a leader to the public..

As known. R.Yerucham Levovitz of Mir once said: "it is a great lacking for one who does not recognize his own lackings but no less than this is the man who does not recognize his own virtues".

On the other hand, a chassidic master once said: "each person needs to have on him two notes at all times. One note reads: 'I am but dust and ashes' while on the second note: 'the world was created for me'. All the time, one needs to use one of the notes according to the situation".

This too is an aspect of "recognizing one's place" - to know when to use which note and not mix up the times of the other note. For that can destroy a person completely.
Maharal - "recognizing one's place (makir mekomo)" - that he knows his virtues and lackings. But if he errs on himself and considers himself more important than he is, the torah is not fit to be in a place of error. For it is solely "a torah of truth" (Malachi 2:6).

Therefore, one must recognize his place and not fool himself. Furthermore, if he is mistaken on himself, then so too he errs on words of torah. But if he recognizes himself and his qualities and he sees his lackings, so too he will recognize the lackings in his learning and he will not feel insulted for anything (if he errs).

(R.Hartman: this is a bit difficult. For there are many possible areas to err. Why specifically error in recognizing oneself is what brings in its wake error in words of torah? Why avoiding this error alone was fixed as one of the 48 ways the torah is acquired? There is to answer: since this error is the most difficult to recognize. For "a person is relative to himself" (Sanhedrin 9b) and "a person does not see fault in himself" (Shabbat 119a) and likewise "a person cannot see blemishes on himself" (Bechrot 38b). Therefore, if despite all this he is able to avoid this error, then certainly he will avoid other errors and he will not feel insulted (mekabel onah) on any matter...)
Daat Zekenim on Pirkei Avot, writings of Rabeinu Yerucham haLevi of Mir - "recognizing one's place" - i.e. that he recognizes his weaknesses and strengths. For if a man does not recognize his weaknesses, certainly he is in big trouble. But even worse than this if a man does not recognize his virtues - he does not recognize nor appreciate the "greatness of man" inside him. On this it is written: "but man, though high in honor, does not understand; he is like the animals.." (Tehilim 49:13). Thus it is certainly evident that such a person is not at all relevant to acquiring the torah. (Daat Torah chelek beit, pg.126).

#27 - rejoicing in one's portion

Tiferet Yisrael - "rejoicing in one's portion" - through this his heart will be always joyous and thus he will understand and remember his torah study well. Also through this trait of being content with what he has, he will be energetic (zariz) always in diligent study. For there is nothing more damaging to enthusiasm, memory, and diligence than sadness and worries.
Midrash Shmuel - "rejoicing in one's portion" - the intent is that he is not in a rush to make money (nivhal lehon). He will not annul his studies due to lust for money. For one who loves money will never be satiated by money and he will annul his studies and go after the vanity.

Perhaps this also hints for one to rejoice that his lot fell among those who study torah, even though it may be painful toil and weakens his strength. For "he that increases knowledge increases pain" (Kohelet 1:17). Even so, he should rejoice in his portion.
Ruach Chaim - "rejoicing in one's portion" - he is not rushing to become rich. He also is not trying to do grand things in his study. Rather, he learns slowly slowly until he is baki (proficient) in them. And he is not arrogant to try to know a lot at once whereby he forgets everything.
Chatam Sofer, end of Vayikra - "rejoicing in one's portion" - ie to rejoice greatly in one's portion in life, that one's portion was not placed among those who sit on street corners (idle men). He should thank G-d very much on this, more than his gratitude for wealth, possessions and honor.

But nevertheless, one should not inflate his heart and consider himself like those greater than him. For in their eyes, he is like one who sits on street corners. Rather he should recognize his place and level and not err on himself thinking he is the gadol hador (greatest scholar). Then he will be able to rejoice in the portion he merited.
Matanat Avot - "rejoicing in one's portion" - this comes as a continuation of "recognizing one's place". For even if a man realizes that his spiritual level is still low, nevertheless, he should not be sad on this. He should not feel like a loser all his life for being worthless. Rather, he should rejoice on his portion and understand that this is the level G-d gave him. And here G-d wants him to serve Him.

For G-d created many trades in the world and also implanted every working person with a liking for a particular trade. This is so that there would be people who accept to toil in all the trades needed for the welfare of the world.

So too in matters of torah and service of G-d. He does not want that everyone be great sages (Gedolei hador) and wise scholars proficient in all chambers of the torah.

Rather, there are some people that G-d wants them to be specifically weak and simple and not so much sharp scholars (lamdanim). And despite all this, they serve G-d with all their problems. On this we learned: "whether a lot or whether a little provided he directs his heart to Heaven" (Berachot 17a).

Thus, he should not feel sadness that he has nothing. Rather, let him rejoice at what he has merited to attain and at the same time, aspire to attain more.
Maharal - "rejoicing in one's portion" - as we explained earlier (Avot 4:1).. for such a person will not receive wholeness in torah (hashlama b'torah) since torah is given to man to make himself whole.. But this person will always be lacking.

These two traits were placed next to each other: "one who recognizes his place" and "one who is content with his portion". For torah is to make man whole. Therefore it is proper for man to be fit for becoming whole. Namely, that he is lacking beforehand and then he becomes whole.

But if he does not recognize his place, why does he need wholeness from the torah? According to his view, he is already whole (shalem) and as we said earlier only one who is previously lacking is fit to become whole.
(R.Hartman: n.780: for he lacks yearning (hishtokekut) for torah since he does not perceive that he is lacking without it.. and in the Maharal's Drush al Hatorah (23): "the preparation needed to receive the torah is to desire and long greatly to receive it, drinking thirstily its words as a thirsty man drinks water.. that it be in his eyes like: "cool waters to a tired soul" (Mishlei 25:25)... For to acquire the torah, a man must be prepared to receive it beforehand. For it is divine intellect (sechel eloki) which is not found and attached to a man like other possessions which are with him. Rather, it is divested.. Therefore one needs to be prepared for it completely.. a man himself must have longing and preparation for it before he can receive it and G-d does not give the torah to one who is not prepared beforehand, as written: "He gives wisdom to the wise" (Daniel 2:21).. and in Netiv Hatorah ch.5 Maharal writes: "longing for wisdom is a condition (tanai) to receive it as they said: "who is wise? he who learns from every person". For he can only be called a wise man if he longs and desires to learn from every person.." and in Netiv Hatorah ch.2: "for the torah is the Sechel Elyon - transcendent intellect and thus difficult to acquire. Therefore man needs preparation to receive the torah without which he will not receive it and the preparations needed are very many until one is fit for the torah. For man is of physical body while the torah is divine intellect. Therefore man needs to be far from physical traits and cling to the trait of intellect".)
And if he is not content with his portion, then even if he becomes whole in torah, he will not become whole by this. For he is not content with his portion. Thus for what is this wholeness [in torah]?

As we said earlier, one who recognizes his place is a man of truth. For even on himself he does not err and lie, all the more so for other things. Certainly this trait is fitting for the torah. For only truth is fit for the torah.

Afterwards the trait of "happy with his portion" was brought. For as we explained earlier (Avot 4:1), this trait is very much fit for the torah. It is a trait of intellect (midah sichlit) like truth. Therefore, these two traits were brought together.

#28 - making a fence around one's words

Tiferet Yisrael - "creating a fence around one's words" - so that he does not stumble in sins.
Midrash Shmuel - "creating a fence around one's words" - in all his matters and things, he makes fences "to sanctify himself with what is permitted to him" (kadesh atzmo bmutar lo). This is in order to distance and not touch the forbidden (each person according to what he needs). And this is besides the fences (ie rabbinical prohibitions) which our sages instituted for everyone...

Alternatively it refers to one's words - namely, to guard one's tongue. That one chooses silence over speech and talks only when necessary..
Maharal - "making a fence to one's words" - ie that he makes a fence for his words in order to not err in his speech. For all fences and hedges (siyag) are so that one does not err. This is proper for the intellect so that one's words will not be mixed up. And in the talmud: "the people of Yehuda were meticulous in their words - their torah endured in their hands. But the people of Galil who were not meticulous in their words, their torah did not endure in their hands" (Eiruvin 53a).

The reason is that unclear words brings to an unclear mind. Thus the mishna said: "making a fence to one's words", to not say something that may cause error. For if he does not act like this, eventually it will come to error and forgetting. This is a very great fence to the torah.
Matanat Avot - "making a fence around one's words (things)" - every man who wants to grow significantly in life must makes limits for himself in every matter in his life.

This applies not only regarding physical pleasures as mentioned ealier regarding "minimizing pleasures" but also in all things. One must recognize his powers and abilities as well as his weaknesses and limitations - how much time can he learn and how much time he needs to go outside to air himself out. How much food he needs to eat and how many hours he needs to sleep. So too for all things in life.

Then he needs to put limits and borders on every matter in his life and tell himself: "I will not cross this border no matter what!"

Self discipline is the most necessary power needed for one who wants to build himself up and achieve significant things in life.

On this the verse hints: "you shall appoint judges and officers for yourself in all your gates" (Devarim 16:18) - you are responsible for judging and guarding yourself. Do not wait for someone to volunteer to help you do this. see also our commentary on the mishna: "if I am not for myself, who will be for me?" (Avot 1:14).

#29 - not claiming merit for oneself

Tiferet Yisrael - "not claiming merit for oneself" - on the good things he did.
Midrash Shmuel - "not claiming merit for oneself" - ie even if he attained wisdom to the highest degree humanly possible, nevertheless, he does "not claim merit for himself", in the way of: "if you learned much torah, do not claim merit for yourself for you were created for this.."

Alternatively, whatever good he does, he does "not claim merit for himself" and considers that he did it. Rather, he knows faithfully that without G-d's help, he would not be able to overcome his evil inclination..
Ruach Chaim - "not claiming merit for oneself" - ie in his torah study. Rather he thinks that which he understands and has insights - it is all from G-d. And it is proper to serve G-d all his life out of gratitude.
Maharal - "not claiming merit for oneself (machzik tovah l'atzmo)" - for if he claims merit for himself, eventually he will cease from studying torah. For he thinks that which he learns torah is beyond his duty (lifnim mishurat hadin). But if he does not claim merit for himself and he tells himself instead "for this I was created - to learn torah". Then he will not come to cease from learning..

For in learning torah one also needs this trait. One who claims credit for himself for toiling in torah thinks he is not obligated to toil in torah and to take upon himself the torah. For that which one is not obligated in does not impel him to it upon himself. Therefore he does not receive the torah.

But one who is not claiming merit for himself and thinks he was created to receive the (whole) torah, then he will come to receive the torah.

#30 - being beloved

Tiferet Yisrael - "is beloved" - he straightens his ways with favor, kindness and mercy. Through this everyone will like him.
Midrash Shmuel - "is beloved" - for in being beloved to all creations, they will all desire to teach him.
Ruach Chaim - "is beloved" - he sees to it that G-d loves him.
Maharal - "beloved" - the explanation is that he is beloved to G-d and also to people. For certainly, if he is not beloved in G-d's eyes, G-d will not give him of His torah.

Likewise it is necessary for him to be beloved and accepted by people. For this too brings him close to the torah since "one with whom people are pleased, G-d is pleased" (Avot 3:12).

And when the spirit of G-d is pleased wih him, then G-d will bestow of His wisdom upon him..
Matanat Avot - "beloved" - how can a person make himself "beloved" since this does not depend on himself? Rather it means to act in ways that others will like him. Namely, by always sending to others joy and a smile and by being tolerant and nice to all.

This way teaches that in order to acquire torah properly it is not enough to treat only the ways of learning or the proper outlook. Rather one must also be a "[proper] human being" and to treat with honor all those around him.

This is not like all those people who think they can mock others because they know a lot of torah, as our sages said: "one who says 'I have only torah' - even torah he does not have".
Yachel Yisrael - "beloved" - is there anyone who does not want to be loved? Even so, many people are not included in the term "beloved". Why? Because they love themselves more than other people. Selfishness causes a person to see only himself - to desire that everyone adapts to his wants and serves him for his honor and benefit.

The trait of selfishness distances a man from the love of others. People do not like the feeling of arrogance surrounding this person who sees himself as the center of every circle. He too distances from friendship of people. For they do not provide his wants.

Even the Holy One, blessed be He, says on the arrogant person (gass haruach): "I and him are unable to dwell in the world together" (Sotah 5a).

Thus before the trait of "beloved" was the trait of "not claiming merit for oneself". For such a person does not inflate himself over others. He does not think: "I deserve!". On the contrary he feels gratitude towards others. Such a person is beloved to people and G-d.

Why is it needed to be beloved in order to acquire the torah? Firstly, ""one with whom people are pleased, G-d is pleased" (Avot 3:12). And when G-d is pleased with him, G-d bestows wisdom to the man. Likewise, that which he is beloved on people indicates he has good character traits and is fit for the crown of torah.

Furthermore, people will desire to be around him and learn with him. Thus he will merit to serve great teachers, cling to good friends, and expound to many students..

#31 - love of G-d

Tiferet Yisrael - "love of G-d, love of people" - the matter of love forms through recognition and conciliation (hashvaah). Namely, that the lover recognizes (makir) the beloved and seeks to conciliate (lehashvot) himself to the beloved. Thus "love of G-d" means he recognizes G-d's ways and seeks to conciliate himself to G-d.

Simillarly, "love of people" is that he recognizes the joys and pains of his fellow and conciliates himself towards him by feelings his trouble as if it happened to himself.
Midrash Shmuel - "love of G-d" - for when he loves G-d, he learns out of love and then secrets of the torah will be revealed to him..
Matanat Avot - "love of G-d" - this one is very simple. For if a man does not love G-d and does not want very much to please Him, how could he desire to do the mitzvot (commandments)? Even though we said many times that in all matters of service of G-d, one needs to think that it is for his own good and he is not doing G-d any favors, but this is not always enough. For sometimes a man needs to do very difficult acts of self sacrifice (mesirut nefesh), whether in material and spiritual matters.

Not always does one have so much will power to do for himself. But one who loves G-d and wants to please Him (laasot lo nachat ruach), he will accept to do everything to please G-d...
Maharal - "love of G-d, love of people" - that he loves G-d, blessed be He, and cleaves to Him and [then] it is fitting for him to acquire G-d's torah.

Likewise, he needs to love people. For then he is inside the congregation (klal) and fitting for the torah which was given to the congregation (klal).

But if he does not love people, he is then separated from the congregation. Thus how can he acquire the torah which is for the congregation? For he is an individual by himself and the torah was not given to an individual.

Furthermore, the torah is the Sechel (transcendent intellect) and the Sechel is not prati (individual). Rather, its attainment is klali (universal/encompassing). If a man is separated from people until he is prati (individual), he is not fit for the attainment of the Sechel which is klali and not prati (individual).

(R.Hartman - for the torah is the thing completely separated from the physical. For the torah is all Sechel (transcendent intellect). . for G-d is the Sechel existence (Hash-em hu hamahut hasichli) and the Sechel is not prati but klali.. for all prati is gashmi/physical...)

#32 - love of people

Midrash Shmuel - "love of people" - for when he loves people, this is a cause to draw them closer to the torah, as the Tanna said: "loves people and draws them to the torah" (Avot 1:12). And when he draws them closer to torah, to teach them, this will be a cause that he too will acquire the torah in the way of: "I learned from my students most of all".
Matanat Avot - "love of people" - essentially this is almost the same as "beloved". But here the wisdom is to truly love every person and not only to act nice and pleasantly to people in order to be beloved to them.

This virtue is essentially the fulfillment of "love your fellow as yourself" (Vayikra/Lev.19:18).. The main acquisition of this way is to love every Jew, even if he is not your type or your group and even if his views are completely different than yours, or you "don't hold of him". One needs to love all of them - like himself.

This is a consequence of "loves G-d". For only one who truly loves G-d can love the creations. For he knows that every Jew is very important since G-d created him and granted him a divine soul. Thus "how can I hate someone G-d loves" (as brought in the book Tomer Devorah).
Maharal - "brings joy to G-d and people" - For he brings joy to G-d due to his [spiritual] level. Therefore, he is worthy of the torah. The difference between "beloved" and "brings joy" is that "beloved" is one who does deeds pleasing to G-d and G-d loves him. Likewise he does deeds pleasing to people and thus they love him.

But "brings joy" is an independent matter. For it is due to the [spiritual] level he has that he brings joy to G-d that there is such a person in His world. Likewise people rejoice that there is such a person among them.

Therefore, he is also worthy of receiving the torah. For everyone benefits from such a person and everyone is close to him. Therefore, the torah is also close to him and he receives it.

#33 - love of righteousness

Tiferet Yisrael - "love of righteousness" - not only that the obligations of others towards him are light in his eyes while his obligations towards others are great in his eyes but he also loves righteousness. It will bother him very much when he sees people oppressing others and he will rise up like a lion to save the oppressed and he will lend a hand and support those who benefit others. This is as what we found by Moshe who saved even the daughters of idolaters from the hands of their oppressors.
Maharal - "love of righteousness, love of uprightness, loves reproofs" - for the torah is built on these three foundations, (as written): "the ways of G-d are just (yesharim)" (Hosheah 14:10). There are rebukes in the torah such as those transgressions which entail lashes, temple offerings, capital punishment, or exile. This is a rebuke. There are also many mitzvot which are "tzedaka" (righteousness) such as the obligation to honor one's father and mother, and give charity.

These three things encompass all the ways of the torah.. Therefore, if he does not love these three things, he will not succeed in torah. For they are the foundations of torah and the ways of torah.
(R.Hartman: these three are the right, left, and middle lines [of the Sefirot])

#34 - love of uprightness

Tiferet Yisrael - "love of uprightness" - this refers to words of wisdom.
Midrash Shmuel - "love of uprightness" - ie he does not flatter any man no matter who. Rather he loves uprightness/integrity (yosher) and cleaves to it. This also hints that one loves sound deep study (iyun hayashar) and not be among those whose ways are stubborn and crooked. Rather he loves the genuine/rightful (mesharim).

#35 - loves reproofs

Tiferet Yisrael - "love of reproof" - when someone rebukes him, he rejoices in this.
Ruach Chaim - "loves reproofs" - to hear rebukes and also to rebuke other people. Thus he said "rebukes" in plural.
Midrash Shmuel - "love of reproof" - when his Rabbi rebukes him, he does not kick like "a child who flees from school" (tinok boreach mibeit hasefer).. Alternatively, that he be among those who rebuke the public and that he loves rebuke - to rebuke others. And that he does not say "shalom will be on me" (ie who cares about others). For "to those who rebuke will be pleasantness and on them will come blessings and good", namely, torah. For as reward for this, secrets of the torah will be revealed to him.

#36 - distancing from honor

Midrash Shmuel - "distancing from honor" - ie he does not learn torah in order to be called a Rabbi or Chacham (wise man) and receive honor. Rather he learns out of love of G-d.

Also, this hints that if he sees people sitting on the path he wants to walk, he goes around them in order that they do not need to stand up for him and honor him. Such a person merits torah.

Another explanation, distancing from honor is a great opening to torah study. For sometimes, an older man who did not acquire wisdom does not want to lower his pride and learn from a younger man. Thus, distancing from honor is a cause to learn from others, even those smaller than him. Through this he will acquire torah.
Maharal - "distancing from honor" - he distances from honor and does not chase after honor. This is clear from what they said. For "one who chases after honor, honor flees away from him and one who flees away from honor, honor chases after him".

And "there is no honor except torah" (Avot 6:4). For through torah, man inherits complete honor. Therefore, if he flees away from honor, he inherits the honor of torah which is the primary honor. But if a person does not flee from honor, he is not worthy of the honor of torah and it flees away from him. We already explained this at length by: "one who honors the torah.." (Avot 4:6).
Tiferet Yisrael - "distancing from honor" - although if he does all these things he is worthy of honor, but nevertheless, not only does he not seek honor, but even when people want to honor him, he distances from them out of modesty (tzniut). For he recognizes well his own lackings, and his lowliness is always before his eyes. Through this his heart is broken within him.

#37 - not having his heart swell on his learning

Midrash Shmuel - "not having his heart swell on his learning" - not only does he distance from honor, but even within himself he is not arrogant in his torah learning. Rather, he always considers himself the smallest of the sages (katan shebechachamim) and through this he strives more. Perhaps this also hints that one considers that what he learned today is only little, so that he always strives to increase..
Ruach Chaim - "not having his heart swell on [account of] his learning" - as our sages said: "whoever prides himself, his wisdom departs from him" (Pesachim 67b). This they learned from Hillel who was extremely humble and nevertheless was punished for this one time.
Maharal - "not having his heart swell on [account of] his learning" - for "one who eagerly judges is a fool, wicked, and arrogant of spirit" (Avot 4:7). And from that which he is a fool, it is clear that he is not fit for wisdom. We already explained this earlier. For one who rushes to judge, to render judgment quicky is a fool. For he demonstrates lack of modesty and one who is modest in his ways does not rush to render judgment. For his wisdom is modest within him and it is written: "to the modest is wisdom" (Mishlei 11:2). Thus, if he is not modest, he is a fool and hence not fit for wisdom. Furthermore, he is in the category of "one who hastily increases words increases foolishness" (see Avot 1:17, Kohelet 5:2).

(R.Hartman: Rabeinu Yonah on Mishlei 11:2 - "to the modest is wisdom" - to minimize words is from the trait of modesty and modesty leads to wisdom. For it is a trait of the wise.. For they listen and hearken but do not crave to reveal their view"..)
Tiferet Yisrael - "not having his heart swell (gass) on [account of] his learning" - this does not mean that he is not proud of his learning. For that is not a [positive] virtue.. thus what praise is there in this? Rather, it means he is not "gass" (gross) in learning torah. He does not consider himself as one used to her (the torah). But rather like one who speaks to his engaged bride, respectfully, for he does not recognize her yet. Thus when he toils in torah he is shame faced to send out his thoughts freely to matters of emunah and mitzvot he learned from the torah which are beyond the human mind to grasp. This is like Moshe rabeinu who "was abashed to gaze at the vision of G-d".

#38 - not delighting in giving halachic (legal) rulings

Tiferet Yisrael - "not delighting in giving halachic (legal) rulings" - does not rejoice when a question reaches him. For he fears that perhaps he is not worthy and perhaps he will err due to its fine details and depth.
Midrash Shmuel - "not delighting in giving halachic (legal) rulings" (eino sameach b'horaah) - for one who rejoices in horaah (ruling) this comes from pride in the heart. Such a person is a "fool, wicked, and arrogant (shoteh, rasha, vegas ruach)" (Avot 4:7).

Perhaps also this hints that for a judge, when a case comes to his hand to rule actual halacha, he should imagine as if Gehinom is open under him. Through this he will examine the judgment well with fear and awe and he will plumb the depth of the judgment and his heart will not rejoice. We likewise find that the great sages were in fear when going to judge a case.

#39 - bearing the yoke with one's fellow

Midrash Shmuel - "bearing the yoke with one's fellow" - when he sees his fellow in pain, he pains himself on this... Alternatively, he bears the middot (character traits) of his fellow even if they are like a heavy yoke/burden on him. Nevertheless, he bears them. And if his fellow has a bad trait and the fellow angers him, he judges him to the side of merit telling himself "his heart had only good (intentions)".
Tiferet Yisrael - "bearing the yoke with one's fellow (nosseh b'ol)" - whether in toil of the body, or monetary burdens, or feeling pain on troubles that befell his fellow. Likewise to advise his fellow when the latter lacks knowledge/reasoning, whether in secular or religious affairs. He should not be concerned of making efforts to advise him and teach him what is good for him in this world and the next.
Midrash Shmuel - "bearing the yoke with one's fellow" - the torah is called a yoke as our sages expounded on the verse "it is good for a man that he bear a yoke in his youth" (Eicha 3:27). Namely, among the things the torah is acquired is to learn with other people and carry the yoke with his fellow and not learn alone.
Ruach Chaim - "bear the yoke of his fellow" - to show merit to his logic as we find: "Rava explains according to Abaye? (targema Rava aliba d'Abaye)" or the like in the Talmud.
Chochma u'Mussar 2:197 - "bearing the yoke with one's fellow (nosseh b'ol)" - to be pained by the troubles of his fellow and to rejoice at his joy. This virtue is impossible to attain without mental imagery (machshavat hatziur) and tangible perception of matters of his fellow. Namely, that one thinks as if all that is happening to his fellow is happening to himself and that which he would have sought that his fellow do to himself, thus he should seek of himself towards his fellow.

(for without thinking and contemplating until it is as if the matter is standing before his eyes tangibly, it is not considered knowledge- Chochma u'Mussar 1:222)

Chochma umussar 1:2 - you will not find this trait except by one who has a hand in the trait of humility. For arrogance is self-love and considering everyone else as zero. Such a person does not feel the pain of others, to share the burden of his fellow.

From here we can understand why our forefathers chose to be shepherds. For one, they chose a humble occupation to provide their livelihood in the way of humility. But furthermore, through the work of sheep herding, to have pity on sheep and to lead them gently and kindly as is good for them, through this they trained themselves in the trait of "bearing the yoke with one's fellow". Thus they taught themselves to be able to guide the treasured people to go in the ways of G-d.
Chochma u'Mussar 3 - the explanation is to be always contemplating the yoke of his fellow, to be actually sharing his burden with him.

The trait of "bearing the yoke of his fellow" rises above all virtues (oleh al kol maalot). It seems to rise even above "love your neighbor as yourself" which our sages called: "this is the general principle of the torah" (Midrash Bereisheit Rabbah 24:8). For "bearing the yoke of his fellow" reaches also deed or the like.

Furthermore. it is the foremost trait for guiding others (1:1).

One who has a heart to contemplate this trait which our sages included in such concise words and which encompasses such vastness - he will understand well that it wondrously includes the entire torah. And likewise he will understand that one who lacks this trait is not fit for society (eino min hayishuv mamash). (ibid 5)

Go and see what is the path a person should choose? It is to be "bearing the yoke of his fellow" and then he will merit all blessings (ibid 2).

Chochma u'Mussar 10 - for on the torah it is written: "acquire truth" (Mishlei 23:23). One can only grasp it through the power of truth and self-love is the power of falsehood to the utmost extreme.

Thus one who bears the yoke of his fellow distances slowly slowly from self-love, the epitome of falsehood and draws closer to the truth and he will merit to acquire the torah.

As before, the torah is the absolute truth.. while self love is the absolute falsehood which erects a wall to block the light of truth. And it impossible to stand on the torah and enter its gates except through the power of truth. Thus one who is immersed in chasing self love, he is hopelessly distant from entering the gates of torah. Thus our sages, the healers of the soul, advised us to work on the trait of "bearing the yoke with one's fellow". For this is the opposite of self love. Thus when one increases in this, the power of self love will weaken and he will distance from it and he will be more fit and closer to the truth.

Thus the trait of "bearing the yoke.." was counted among the definitions of acquiring the torah.
Chochma u'Mussar - the trait of "bearing the yoke with one's fellow" (nosseh b'ol im chavero) is a special trait. It is not part of the mitzvah of "love your fellow as yourself". Not only that, but all mitzvot are included in this trait. It is the foundation of the torah and the foundation of the mitzvot. The way to grasp and acquire it is a whole torah:

1. "to put one's eye" to contemplate with one's eyes at the sufferings of his fellow. This is as written by Moshe: "and Moshe went out and saw their sufferings" (Shemot 2:11). Rashi there: "he put his eyes and heart to be pained on them".

2. "to put to heart" - to delve deeply with all the power of one's thought and examination into the pain of his fellow.

3. to actually feel tangibly the yoke of the pain of his fellow. (Daat Chochma u'Mussar 1:12).

In truth, we should contemplate what a tremendous disgrace and embarrassment is upon us. For it is possible for one to be constantly with his fellow and be almost always together and nevertheless one does not know him in the least. (Daat Torah g.232-5)
Maharal - "bearing the yoke of his fellow" (noseh b'ol) - if something happened to his fellow and the thing is a burden on him and he needs to toil to be saved from this burden, then he bears the burden with his fellow and enters with him in that yoke to save him from the ordeal.

This that he entered in the yoke with his fellow to save him from trouble indicates that he is a good man (adam tov). This also indicates that he is not separated from the congregation (klal) and thus he is fit for the torah which is for the congregation (klal) as we explained.

"inclining him to the side of merit, establishing him on truth and peace" - furthermore, the 39th, that he bestows good to his fellow and inclines him to the side of merit (machrio l'kaf zechut). Namely, if he sees in his fellow something which inclines him to the side of guilt, he strives with his fellow to incline him to the side of merit.

And even more than this, the fortieth, he strives with his fellow to establish him on the truth. And more still the forty-first that he strives with his fellow to establish him on peace (shalom) which is more [than the previous].

All these traits, namely, that he increases in the world merit, truth, and peace. For one who bears the yoke with his fellow, ie if troubles befell his fellow, he carries the yoke with him in order to remove the troubles. For he desires the good. And he inclines him to merit and brings him to truth and peace as is fitting for a talmid chacham (torah scholar) to increase peace in the world as our sages said: "torah scholars increase peace (Shalom) in the world" (Berachot 64a).

And not just Shalom but all that is good such as knowledge (daat) and truth. Such a person is fit for the torah which is good as written: "for I give you good teaching; do not forsake My torah" (Mishlei 4:2).

And when he conducts himself with his fellow with these traits, he demonstrates that he himself is good and is worthy of inheriting the torah which is good. For similar things always join together. But if he is not good, how can he inherit that which is good?

And that which he said earlier "a good heart", that referred to doing good and benefiting his fellow due to being good hearted. But this that he increases good in the world shows that he loves the good. Therefore, he said these four things which include everything. Namely, he bears the yoke [of his fellow], inclines him to merit, establishes him on the truth and the peace.

#40 - inclining him to the side of merit

Tiferet Yisrael - "inclining him to the side of merit" - when his fellow's mind leans between good and evil, he should make efforts to incline his thoughts to the side of good. Alternatively, to judge his fellow favorably.

#41 - establishing him on the truth

Tiferet Yisrael - "establishing him on the truth" - he brings him arguments and proofs until he establishes him on the point of truth.
Midrash Shmuel - "establishing him on truth and peace" - to do a compromise which is Shalom (peace) between the two litigants. Also, when learning/debating with someone, let not the purpose be to defeat the person and annoy him (lekanter) but rather to arrive at the truth and establish the fellow on what appears to his mind to be the truth. And likewise to always establish peace and not to annoy chalila. For then their debating will be for service of G-d and an acquisition of wisdom.

#42 - establishing him on peace

Tiferet Yisrael - "establishing him on peace (Shalom)" - he causes Shalom-peace to come on the soul of his fellow by opening for him the windows of the secrets of G-d according to how much he can handle. This is the essence of sheleimut (perfection) Alternatively, it refers to peace itself, namely, he establishes his fellow on the level of Shalom, namely, that his fellow not be in doubt over his friendship towards him.
Ruach Chaim - "establishing him on truth, peace - He thinks perhaps the truth is with his fellow even though it is clear to him that he is correct and not his fellow. He is not like one proud over his fellow with his words. But rather as one who peacefully establishes him on the truth, without embarassing him.

#43 - settling one's heart in his studies

Midrash Shmuel - "settling one's heart in his studies" - ie he does not learn in a temporary (araiy) manner but rather he is settled (mityashiv) in a fixed manner in his studies. Also, he learns in a settled and calm state, not in a rushed manner. After he learns he settles down with it and reviews it so that it is not forgotten..
Maharal - "settling one's heart in his studies" - he does not jump to do pilpul (elaborate logic) before he is firmly established in his learning. And he does not toil in learning in a swift (superficial) manner. This is called that he is "settling in his studies". And this matter does not need explanation.
Tiferet Yisrael - "settling one's heart in his studies (mityashev libo b'talmudo)" - when he teaches other people G-d's torah or the ways of G-d in his speeches, he first deliberates well how to present the teachings..

#44 - asking and answering

Tiferet Yisrael - "asking and answering" - for only through questions and answers are the matters inscribed in the heart of the listener. He asks and answers relevantly and does not divert to remote things to show off his wisdom..
Midrash Shmuel - "asks on the matter (shoel k'inyan) and answers like the halacha" - for one who is on one subject and asks from a different subject will confuse his mind with the two matters and remain empty in both...

"answers like the halacha" - this does not refer to someone who can answer correctly on any matter. For then he already acquired the torah. Rather, the intent is that he is able to question and rouse all the proper questions which fall on the subject. Through this, he will come to acquire the torah. For through the strong questions, the subject will be investigated and clarified.
Maharal - "asking and answering, listening and adding" - it is all one thing. For if he has a question but does not ask, then he is not makpid (interested) in the question. Likewise, if others ask and he does not seek to answer, he will not reach the level of torah. Rather, the main thing is to ask and answer those who ask.

"listening" - that he puts to heart on what his fellow says.
"and adding" - on his words.

Through this that he asks and answers, he broadens the torah. Likewise, when he listens and adds on. All these things are broadening and adding to the torah. Through this they reach the torah. But if he does not ask, he will not reach the level of torah.

#45 - listening and adding

Tiferet Yisrael - "listening and adding" - he listens to the words of his students and does not reject them. And when he senses that his words are not sufficient, it will not be a burden for him to add onto his words until they are well understood.
Midrash Shmuel - "listening and adding" - he always hears words of torah from the mouths of chachamim (scholars) and nevertheless is not fed up (eino katz ba). Rather he increases to listen due to great love and cherishing.

Likewise, when he hears something from his teacher, he strives to add to it of his own, Shlomo said: "the wise man hears and increases lessons" (Mishlei 1:5). For it is not enough for the Chacham to merely hear. Rather, he toils and strives to increase lesson (lekach) and to deduce one thing from another and examine further..
Midrash Shmuel - "listening and adding" - when the chief wise man sits in yeshiva, it is proper for him to listen to the words of all the colleagues first. For if he speaks first, he will not leave any room for the colleagues and students to say anything. Thus it is proper that he hears first all that they say and afterwards he adds wisdom on all of what they said.
Matanat Avot - "listening and adding" - if you want to convey an idea, argument (svara), or question while you are learning with your study partner, do not begin immediately by making heard your own views and ideas. For it is almost certain that in this way, your study partner will not want to hear you at all. For most people are far more interested in having their own views heard than they are prepared to hear the views of others. So what should one do so that his study partner will listen intently to his words?

For this, one needs to first be "a listener". Namely, to hear him and his view until the end, without interrupting him in the middle. And afterwards to say to him: "know that you thought a wondrous insight and I enjoyed it very much. Just that I have one little comment to add. According to your insight in ... it is possible to also explain ...". Here you can insert your idea and the person will gladly listen since he does not see this as your insight but rather as your addition to his insight. And who is not happy to hear an insight of his own with some improvements and additions?

Thus one can convey his ideas to his study partner with a gold spoon by hearing his views and adding one's idea as an "addition" to his words.

#46 - learning in order to teach

Tiferet Yisrael - "learning in order to teach" - even though he is already great in torah, even so, he toils even in things without practical deed such as matters of faith and outlook (emunot vedeot) in order to teach them to others.
Midrash Shmuel - "learning in order to teach" - for it is known that one who prays for his fellow (before himself) is answered first. Thus one whose whole purpose in learning is in order to teach others, he is likewise answered first and from Heaven he is taught and the gates of torah open before him.

Also, when one learns in order to teach, the torah endures by him and he does not forget it. For since he reviews and teaches it to others, each time he remembers it [more] and his torah (knowledge) endures by him.
Maharal - "learning in order to teach" - for this is the essence of torah (etzem hatorah) to also teach others. The torah was not given in order that it stays by him but rather to teach others. We explained this earlier many times. For the essence of torah is to teach it to others.
Matanat Avot - "learning in order to teach" - when a man learns something without anything drawing him to this subject but rather only because this is what his torah group is studying, then, there is not much hope that he will remember what he learned long term. For his mind is not so interested and one remembers only things that are interesting or important to him.

Therefore, if you want to remember your studies well, you need to make it into some sort of goal. Namely, if you tell yourself: "I am coming now to learn a certain subject and I need to learn it in order to give a class to one person or many people".

Certainly, you will learn it properly so that you will know how to teach and explain it. This will also help you to remember it well. For your mind will guard everything you learned until the time you teach it to others.

#47 - learning in order to do

Tiferet Yisrael - "learning in order to do" - for things with practical deed (maase), he reviews them for he is concerned of forgetting them. And he desires to do them fully (b'shlemut) and wants to teach others to do them properly.
Midrash Shmuel - "learning in order to do" - this hints to what Shlomo said: "My son, do not forget my teaching, and let your heart keep my commandments" (Mishlei 3:1), ie in order to not forget my torah, you need to guard my mitzvot in your heart. For as known, "the fear of G-d is one's storehouse".

He said "one who learns in order to do" and not "one who learns and does". This teaches that even if one did not do yet, nevertheless, if he took on himself to do when the opportunity arises - this is enough.

Shlomo also had intent on this. For he did not say "keep my commandments" but rather "let your heart keep my commandments" (future tense). Since from the day he resolved in his heart to do, that is already enough..

This also hints on the torah study itself. For sometimes a person learns in order to sharpen his mind with pilpul (sharp and elaborate logic) in order to become wise. Such study does not endure in a man's hand.

Only the study which man learns in order to do - to know the dinim (laws), their details and fine points, how to fulfill them to serve one's Creator. This torah endures in one's hands.
Maharal - "learning in order to do" - this too is a primary matter of the torah. For the learning is not primary. Rather the doing is primary. Therefore, if his torah study is not to teach others or to do, he is not fit for the torah. For the torah was given to man in order that he teaches it to others as G-d gave it to Moshe and Moshe taught it to the Jewish people.

For due to its loftiness, an individual is not worthy of the torah. Therefore, the primary torah study is to teach it to others as the talmud expounds: " 'see I have taught you laws and judgments' (Devarim 4:5) - just like I taught for free, so to you [teach] for free" (Nedarim 37a).

Hence, a man is commanded to transmit the torah to others for free. And all the more so to learn in order to do. For as before the learning is not primary, rather the doing is primary. If he does not do, he is not fit to receive the torah.
Matanat Avot - "learning in order to do" - this too is almost the same as the previous way. But here there is an additional chidush (idea) regarding remembering one's learning. For when one learns a certain subject (sugya) in order to know how to conduct himself in this area (such as learning the laws of baking matzah due to starting a group of matzah baking), then he forces himself to remember all the details he learned. Additionally, he also integrates in his mind and applies his studies to practical action and thinks all the time how he will act in this case, what he will do when this question comes up, and how to prepare himself well to avoid any problems.

The result is that he not only remembers his studies much better then one who learns without a goal but he also knows well how to conduct himself in those halachot (laws) that he learned and he does not forget them due to needing to know them imminently in real life situations.

#48 - making his teacher wiser

Midrash Shmuel - "making his teacher wiser" - this hints that for the student to always desire to learn from his Rabbi, he must make and consider his Rabbi wise and knowledgeable. Then he will desire to learn from his wisdom. But if the student does not consider him a Chacham (wise man), then he will not try to chase after him to learn from him and he will be lax and remain lacking in acquiring the torah.

Another explanation is that the student needs to try to always ask questions to his Rabbi so that through this he makes his Rabbi wise in the way of "from my students I learned the most". Such a person will certainly acquire the torah and the matters will take root within him. For in making his Rabbi wise he will also become wise himself..
Maharal - "making his teacher wiser" - ie that he sharpens his Rabbi. This too is as we said earlier.. For a small [piece of wood] ignites a big [piece of] wood. And since this is the way of torah, if he does not do like this, he is not fit for the torah. And that which he said earlier (#43) "asking and answering (shoel umeshiv)", the explanation is that he asks what there is to ask of the doubts [in the subject] but it is not at all referring to pilpul and chidud (elaborate sharp logic).
Tiferet Yisrael - "making his teacher wiser" - even if he has become great in torah, nevertheless when he remembers something his Rabbi taught him which now appears difficult, he will not think that his Rabbi did not know what he knows. Rather he tells himself: "my Rabbi was a big chacham (wise man) and thought deeper than me". Thus he strives to resolve the difficulty.

#49 - noting with precision what he has heard

Tiferet Yisrael - "noting with precision what he has heard (mekaven shmuato)" - even when the words of his rabbi appear to contradict each other, he toils to resolve them.
Midrash Shmuel - "noting with precision what he has heard (mekaven shmuato)" - the intent is that one needs to not be like those students who chirp and think but without understanding the root intent of the teaching and halacha.

And even if they know the material by heart. But nevertheless, since they cannot delve into understanding the underlying intent of the teaching, immediately it will sprout wings and be forgotten.

But it is not so for one who is "mekaven shmuato" and knows the primary intent of the teaching and its foundation. Through this the teaching will remain implanted in his heart..
Maharal - "grasping with precision what he has heard (mekaven shmuato)" - ie when he hears something in his learning, he understands it and he does not receive (mekabel) it until he understands it. This is not like some students who receive something even though they don't understand it and then say "thus I received". This is not proper. Rather one needs to understand what he heard.

And that which he said earlier (#4) "understanding of the heart (binat halev)" that refers to putting to heart when receiving from his Rabbi. Without that, he will not receive wisdom. But here he said: "one who understands what he heard" - that one needs to stand on the matter heard and not receive it until it is in his hands, until it is understood.

These are two things. For if it is something difficult to understand, then even if he puts his mind on this and he fulfills (#4) "understanding of the heart (binat halev)", but nevertheless, he still needs this trait to not receive the matter until he stands on it.

And if he has this trait to not receive any teaching until he understands it, nevertheless, if he does not put his mind and heart to understand when receiving from his Rabbi, he will not understand. Therefore, they are two things.

#50 - saying something in the name of him who said it

Matanat Avot - "saying something in the name of him who said it" - for if one hears two contradictory teachings, he can know that they were not said by the same Rabbi and it will not be difficult to resolve the difficulty. He can say simply this was said by Rabbi X who holds like this and that was said by Rabbi Y who holds like that..
Tiferet Yisrael - "saying something in the name of him who said it.." - not only does he not wear a garment that is not his, but he honors his teacher so much that he does not just say: "thus I heard". Rather, he mentions the name of his teacher..
Midrash Shmuel - "saying something in the name of him who said it" - for one who does not do like this but rather steals from others and says things in his own name - certainly he will not acquire a kinyan torah. But when he always says things in the name of him who said it, then this will force him also to strive to some new insight (lechadesh) in the torah to say in his own name. This will cause him to strive to make himself whole and to acquire a kinyan (acquisition) in torah.

Furthermore, this also has the benefit of bringing Geulah (Messianic era) to the world as you know from the story of Esther and Mordechai.. It is known that at the time of the Geulah will be the true revelation of kinyan torah. For then the land will be filled with knowledge of G-d like water on the sea.. Thus, he finished his words on the 48 ways to acquire torah with a teaching on the Geulah..
Tiferet Yisrael - "one who says something in the name him who said it brings Geulah (redemption) to the world" - for one who does good, G-d desires the person and his ways to be publicized so that others will learn from him..
Matanat Avot - "this teaches one who says something in the name him who said it brings Geulah (redemption) to the world, as written: 'And Esther told the king in Mordechai's name'" - for that night when king Achashverosh was unable to sleep, he had the book of Chronicles read to him which recorded that Mordechai saved his life. Due to this he decided to honor Mordechai and decreed on Haman to ride him on the royal horse, etc. and the rest is know. Now if Esther did not tell the king about the attempted assasination in the name of Mordechai and instead said it in her own name, then what would have happened? It would have been written in the book of Chronicles that Esther saved king Achashverosh's life and not Mordechai. Then what would have caused the king to command Haman to ride Mordechai on the horse and what would have prevented Haman from carrying out his wish to hang Mordechai on the tree, etc.?

Thus, specifically because Esther said in the name of Mordechai that the sequence of events resulted in the miracle of the saving of the Jewish people.
Tiferet Yisrael - "And Esther told the king in Mordechai's name" - for Mordechai sanctified G-d's Name by showing how a Jew is faithful to the king. For he put himself in great danger with the two big ministers (who plotted to kill the king) in order to save the king. He was not concerned that the foolish and hasty king Achashverosh may pardon them and then hs life would hang by a thread. And through Esther's telling him in the name of Mordechai, the matter turned out to bring geulah to the world..
Maharal - "saying something in the name of him who said it" - this too is very much connected to the torah. For one needs to say a teaching in the name of he who said it and not steal the torah from him.

We find even G-d says a teaching in the name of he who said it. In tractate Gitin (6b): "My son Evyatar says thus". And in the midrash: "when Moshe ascended above, he heard the voice of G-d who was toiling in the matter of Parah Aduma saying: "My son Eliezer says thus: Para bat Shtayim.." Moshe said to G-d: "Master of the world, the upper and lower realms are Yours and You sit and say a halacha from the mouth of flesh and blood?" G-d replied to him: "a tzadik will in the future arise in my world and he will open first with the parsha of Parah"..

This teaches that they are according to the Sechel (mind) of each person. Therefore G-d said that this attainment was designated for R.Eliezer according to his great Sechel (mind). For Para Aduma is deep and this attainment was fitting for R.Eliezer hagadol and thus he opened with its first saying "Parah bat shtayim" (red heifer 2 years old).

G-d ordered the world and granted an intellect to each person according to what is proper for him. Therefore, He said the halacha in the name of R.Eliezer, ie I created in My world a tzadik and Chacham whose mind is specially designated for attaining Para Aduma to its depth".. Due to this, G-d said the matter in the name of R.Eliezer. For just like He created all the creations and gave each one its essence, so too He gave each person his mind and intellect...

And that which the midrash says that G-d said this halacha specifically in the name of R.Eliezer, unlike the other halachas where not one person alone was designated but rather many speak and G-d would say the halacha in the name of many.

This was due to the great difficulty of Parah Aduma which R.Eliezer specially excelled in. For he was a descendant of Moshe (Midrash Tanchuma chukat 8). To Moshe alone was the secret of Parah Aduma revealed as written: "take for yourself" (Bamidbar 19:2) and from him R.Eliezer inherited until he was singular in this.

In any case, every halacha is designated for the one who says it . Therefore, it is proper to attribute every attainment in torah to he who said it. For that attainment is fitting to he who said it. And if he does not do so, he is changing the torah of what was ordained for each person. Rather, one should attribute each thing to he who said it. Then, he is not changing in the torah..

And there is a midrash: "whoever changes the words of R.Eliezer with the words of R.Yehoshua or vice versa - it is as if he destroyed the world".

This teaches what we said. For the attainment (hasaga) of R.Eliezer is designated (meyuched) for R.Eliezer and the attainment of R.Yehoshua is designated for R.Yehoshua. The two are divided in their attainments and G-d ordained this view to R.Eliezer and this view to R.Yehoshua. And when one switches their words, he is changing the order of the torah which G-d ordained for the sages. Such a change in the order of the torah is a destruction to the world.

Another explanation: if one is not careful to attribute each thing to he who said it, he will also not be careful in the main teaching and become mixed up in that also.
Maharal - "one who says something in the name him who said it brings Geulah (redemption) to the world, as written: 'And Esther told the king in Mordechai's name'.." - there is to ask here: "how do we know that the Geulah happened through Esther because of this?"

Furthermore, all the traits of G-d are measure for measure (midah kneged midah - Sanhedrin 90a). Thus, why does one who attributes something to he who said it merits to bring Geulah?

You should know that when G-d brings Geulah, He wants that it be known that He did it and not that people say: "it was not G-d who did this but rather it was due only to the victor's wisdom and physical might".

Thus you will find in the Geulah of Egypt it is written: "And they shall know that I am the L-ord their G-d, who brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Shemot/Exodus 29:46).

Therefore if Esther did not have this trait of attributing something to the person who said it and she had instead said to the Israelites: "I did this through my own ingenuity" in order to inflate her pride, then she woud not have been worthy that the Geulah come through her.

For G-d wants to make known the kindness and good He does for Yisrael. But after Esther told king Achashverosh in the name of Mordechai (Esther 2:22) instead of telling him that she did it herself to find favor in his eyes, then she became fit to bring the Geulah to the world. For then people will attribute the matter to G-d for certainly Esther knew that everything that happens is from G-d.

The verse says: "Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai" (Esther 2:22). It could have said simply: "the king was told in the name of Mordechai". For the verse is mainly coming to teach that the king was told in the name of Mordechai and it was not necessary to say who told him.

Thus the verse is hinting why Esther merited that the Geulah came through her - since she said a thing in the name of the one who said it and did not attribute it to herself.

It was specifically in this Geulah (redemption/salvation) that scripture hints that Esther was worthy to bring the Geulah because of this trait. This is as we said. For G-d wants to make known tha the Geulah came through Him.

In the Geulah of Egypt, this was certainly made known through the great miracles. But in this Geulah (of Esther) there were no miracles at all. Thus there was room to say the Geulah was not from G-d and Esther could have said it was from her. And even during the Chashmonaim where G-d saved them from the Greeks, there was the miracle of the candles in order to make known that G-d strengthened them over the Greeks so they won't attribute it to their own might and ingenuity.

But here by Esther, there were no open miracles.. And thus the savior was called "Esther" for the Geula was with "hester" (concealment) and not at all visible. Therefore if Esther did not say in the name of he who said it, she would not have been worthy to bring the Geulah.

Thus you will not find G-d's Name mentioned explicitly in Megilah Esther. For it was a miracle with "hester panim" (concealment of G-d).

(R.Hartman: G-d's Name is only hinted as the Midrash (Esther Rabba 3:10) says: "wherever it says in the Megilah Esther 'the king' (without 'Achashverosh'), it refers to both G-d and Achashverosh...")

According to [all] this, it will not be difficult for you [the question]: "but many people say things in the name of the person who said it, and they do not bring Geulah?"

For the explanation is not that he will certainly bring Geulah. Rather, when G-d needs to bring Geulah to the world, He brings this through one who says a thing in the name of he who said it due to the reason we explained.

Furthermore, Yisrael needs Geulah (redemption/salvation) all the time, and G-d brings it through one who says a thing in the name of he who said it...
Matanat Avot - "48 ways" - note that some ways are included in other ways and thus it is not so clear how to arrive at 48 ways and not 49 or 50. There are also different versions of this mishna. I followed the writings of R.Noach Weinberg who researched the different versions.