D.A.F. >   Useful Resources > Developing Character > Pirkei Avos
Pirkei Avot Home

Eng Heb Both
Font Size +  /  -


Mirrored from Dafyomireview.com


Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 1 Mishna 15
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.

Link to this page:

+ Increase Font Size   |   - Decrease Font Size

Chapter 1 Mishna 15פרק א משנה טו
Shammai would say: Make your Torah fixed, say little and do much, and receive every person with a pleasant countenance. שַׁמַּאי אוֹמֵר, עֲשֵׂה תוֹרָתְךָ קֶבַע. אֱמֹר מְעַט וַעֲשֵׂה הַרְבֵּה, וֶהֱוֵי מְקַבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת
Bartenura - "make your Torah fixed" - let your primary occupation day and night be in torah. And when you are tired from torah study, do work.

But not that your primary occupation is in work and when you are free from work, you toil in torah.
Rambam - "make your Torah fixed" - the root and primary [occupation], and all your other occupations follow after it. If there comes (nizdamen) [work], there comes. If not, not. No damage when lacking.
Rabeinu Yonah - "make your Torah fixed" - as written in Avot d'Rebbi Natan (28:10) "whoever makes his torah primary and his work secondary is made primary in Olam Haba (the World to Come). But he who makes his work primary and his torah secondary is made secondary in Olam Haba" - that is to say, if he did not commit any sins but nevertheless did not make torah primary, then even if he merits to be in Gan Eden, he will be secondary there.

"receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - show others a joyous, pleasant face in order that the public benefit from you, i.e. distance from the trait of anger. For it is a very evil trait, and conduct yourself with the trait of contentment (ratzon), in such a way that people will be pleased with you..

On this the mussar masters said: "do you wish to want (that others like you)? - want what you don't want". For a man cannot attain that others want (like) him, without overriding his own wishes for their wishes, i.e. to annul one's own wish for theirs. Through this, he will have many friends and guard himself from their damages. For one who shows others a sullen face (panim zoafot), they will hate him and distance from him and seek to harm him.
Chida - Chasdei Avot - in the Sefer Chareidim page 68: "make your torah fixed" - such number of chapters every day, such number of halachot per day, like the fixed workload (chok) of a servant.
Tiferet Yisrael - "Shammai..." - he also said three things corresponding to the three thing said by Shimon HaTzadik.

Corresponding to torah, he said "make your Torah fixed". Corresponding to Avodah, he said: "say little and do much", i.e. in your service of G-d promise little..

Corresponding to acts of kindness, he said "receive every person with a pleasant countenance". This is the first act of kindness to do to the guest and also to other people. Through this, love between others will increase. One will also gain that he will have many friends..
Bartenura - "receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - when you bring guests in your house, don't give to them while your face is facing the ground. For whoever gives while his face is facing the ground, even if he gives all the gifts of the world, it is as if he gave nothing...
Ben Ish Chai - Zechut Avot - even though I told you to exert yourself greatly in torah, do not think that if a guest comes to you, push him away and don't "receive him with a pleasant countenance", lest he disturb you from your learning for some time. Rather remember what they said: "derech eretz (decency) preceded torah".
Ketav Sofer, Derashot, Peticha l'Bnei Yeshivot - "make your Torah fixed" - that your toil in torah be fixed, i.e. fixed day and night without letup (b'keviut yomam v'layla m'ein hafugot).

"say little and do much" - i.e. that one learns alot of torah. But in one's own eyes, he should diminish himself (yaktin atzmo) and say that it is only little. Through this, he will add on always and not be quiet day and night, abandoning his nefesh (i.e. lust for bodily comfort).

But in order to increase and amass torah and mitzot, he will be disgusted by worldly matters and may abandon honor of the public (kavod habriot). This is what the Tanna exhorts and warns greatly to he who says little and does much - even so, "receive every person with a pleasant countenance".

In truth, this is among the difficulties and tests, may Hash-em teach us and help us...
Alei Shur II 6:3 - "receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - when G-d created man in His image, not only did He bestow of His glory granting man the crown of intellect and virtuous traits, but also in this He created man in His image - that He granted man the power of heerat panim (shining [spiritual] light through his facial countenance)...

The holy Rav Avraham Grodzinsky toiled two years on this. All those who met him tell stories just how much this trait was [deeply] acquired in his soul. Even during the most difficult years in the ghetto, his sorrow was concealed in his heart but the illumination did not leave his face (Toras Avraham pg.11).

If such a great man toiled two years in this, we can toil in this at least two months!

Another point in this, one should not be choosy to who he shines countenance of the face to. Certainly, it is easier and more pleasant to do this to friends and acquaintances. One may not even consider that it is possible to do this to the shopkeeper, the bank teller or the driver - but they also have an image of G-d.

However, specifically through this will the Shem Shamayim (Name of Heaven) become beloved through us - when we show a pleasant countenance to the simple people!

A certain baal teshuva (non observant Jew who became observant) was asked who roused him to return to Judaism? He answered:

"I was born in a secular city. I lived in a neighborhood where there was only one religious Jew there. The Jews in the area were not used to saying "shalom" to each other. Only this religious Jew did.

Every morning when I went to school, I saw him and he greeted me with a warm shalom. I began to think to myself: 'how could it be that of all the neighbors, only this religious Jew gives me Shalom, and with such warmth - it seems the torah is true! Then I drew closer to being observant".

This story should be enough to strengthen us in this area!
Shevet Sofer - Chelek Aleph, Lech Lecha - "say little and do much" - in truth, one who thinks he has already fulfilled his duty will step back and fall from level to level. For he becomes lazy in the service of Hash-em, and through this, his hands slack off.. but if one tell himself always: "what I did is only a little bit", and on the contrary he is still on the same level and is always afraid for his soul, and "fortunate is the man who is always afraid" (Mishlei 28:14), in fear of G-d. Through this, he will go forth and grow, with G-d's help..
Ben Ish Chai - Zechut Avot - "say little and do much" - this hints to what our sages said: "a person should look at the whole world as if equally balanced between merit and sin. If a single person performs one sin, or one good deed, he tips his own scales, and that of the entire world.." This is: "say little and do much". For sometimes a few words of torah are considered that you did much. For you tipped the scales of the whole world to the side of merit.
Ruach Chaim - "your torah fixed" - for all wealth that a man attains is for the needs of others, and as written: "they will leave their wealth to others" (Tehilim 49:11) and as Moonbaz said: "my fathers amassed for others..." (Bava Batra 11a). But that which one attains in torah is only for himself. Thus he said: "make your torah primary", since it is yours (i.e. only it is yours, not material possessions). Thus it is proper to make it primary... "and in his torah he contemplates.." (Tehilim 1:2) For the torah itself is the reward, as known.. Ruach Chaim - "your torah fixed" - for all wealth that a man attains is for the needs of others, and as written: "they will leave their wealth to others" (Tehilim 49:11) and as Moonbaz said: "my fathers amassed for others..." (Bava Batra 11a). But that which one attains in torah is only for himself. Thus he said: "make your torah primary", since it is yours (i.e. only it is yours, not material possessions). Thus it is proper to make it primary... "and in his torah he contemplates.." (Tehilim 1:2) For the torah itself is the reward, as known..
Chasdei David - "make your torah fixed - I saw fit to explain according to an analogy I read in the name of the holy Rav Nachman of Breslov:

There was a city with two wealthy leaders. One was a great miser while the other was very generous and very hospitable. A poor man came to the city and behold "poverty follows the poor" (Bava Kama 92a) - by accident, he arrived at the home of the miser. He begged to the miser for some food, for he ate nothing since morning. The miser told him: "we will need to heat the stove. If you go run and chop some wood, we will have enough to heat it till the morning".

The poor man toiled to chop wood and when morning came, he asked the miser if there is what to eat.

"certainly there is", replied the miser, "just enter the house next door and there you will be given".

The poor man went to the other house (which belonged to the second leader), and the rich man opened the door "with a pleasant countenance", greeted him Shalom and gave him food to eat. He sat next to him to honor him and in the middle of the meal, the poor man sighed.

The rich man asked him why he sighed. He replied: "the meal is truly good and nice, but I worked extremely hard for it".

The rich man asked him to explain. He answered that he chopped wood since midnight.

The rich man understood what the other man did to him and told the poor man: "you worked for free and ate for free"!

The understanding person will understand. (that money comes from G-d not the work)
Chida - Zeroa Yamin - "your torah fixed" - we may explain as the talmud (Kidushin 32b, see Rashi there): "at first the torah is called on the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, as written 'his desire is in the torah of G-d' (Tehilim 1:2). Afterwards, it is called on his own name, as written: 'and in his torah he contemplates [day and night]'" (Kidushin 32b, see Rashi there)

And in Sotah 21b: "When, however, he reaches the cross-roads, he is saved from everything... what is meant by cross-roads? [Answer:] It refers to a talmid chacham (torah scholar) whose words are accepted to be the halachah".

Tosfot writes there: "since he has arrived at Horaah (ability to rule on halacha), he always thinks in the torah".

The commentators explained that which the torah is called on the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, that refers to the beginning of one's study. But afterwards, when he reaches "Horaah" and becomes an important man (gavra raba), the torah is called on his own name.

One might think that since he reached the level in torah that it is called on his own name, he no longer needs to learn it diligently always. For he is already crowned with the crown of torah everywhere in torah. But this is not true. On the contrary, then it says "and in his torah he contemplates day and night" (Tehilim 1:2). For even when he walks on the road, he thinks [in torah], as Tosfot writes. And through this he is saved from sin (as in Sotah: "when he reaches the cross-roads, he is saved from everything").

This is the meaning of "make your torah [fixed]" - even though you merited that it be called "your torah", don't think that now you no longer need to toil in it always. Rather, "make your torah", even though it is called "yours" - fixed.

And since you think in torah always, you are assured that the yetzer hara (evil inclination) will not attack you (yitgare) and you will be meritorious. For "a mitzvah brings another mitzvah" (Avot 4:2).

"say little and do much" - for torah drives away the yetzer harah.

"receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - for "if a Rabbi pardons his honor, it is not pardoned" (Kidushin 32a). All the more so then that he needs to show a nice facial expression to everyone.
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - one who learns torah lishma will have his torah fixed for all generations. For such a person merits to arrive at the truth and according to the Halacha. The Halacha wil be like him everywhere. Thus, the torah he will mechadesh (derive) in Halacha will not be forgotten and leave the mouth of the sages for all generations. Since the Halacha is like him.. and even if he says things in Agadah, Hash-em will make it fixed in the mouths of the wise for several generations. On this he said: "make your torah fixed", i.e. learn lishma. For then "your torah", namely, the chidush (novel idea), you derive in torah in halacha or Agadah will be fixed in the mouths of the sages.

Thus, in this you said little. For your words were said in a short time and it became a teaching for many times, since the Halacha is like you. Thus whenever the topic is studied, your teaching is mentioned and people walk in your light and it is as if you are alive again and saying this teaching again.

How do you merit to learn lishma through which your torah wil be fixed? Through "greeting every person with a pleasant countenance", namely, even for a student who has a hard time understanding, like the student of Rav Freida who did not understand a teaching until his Rebbi repeated it to him 400 times.

So too, do not become disgusted (lo takutz) by him when he comes to learn torah from you. Rather, "greet him with a pleasant countenance" to teach him torah. In the merit of this trait, you will merit to learn torah lishma and through this your torah wil be fixed.
Chasdei David - "receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - there is to ask here that Shammai speaks nicely here but in the Talmud (Shab.31a) it seems from several stories that he did not act like this...

We may answer that these three were different in that they appeared to be denying the torah. One denied the oral law, one wanted to be the high priest thus denying that Moshe Rabeinu appointed Aharon and his descendants to be priests by G-d's command, while the third who wanted to learn the whole torah on one foot held the torah had much unnecessary material.

Thus Shammai pushed them away and did not receive them with a pleasant countenance. But for other people, yes one should receive them with a pleasant countenance, even a non-jew.

In the talmud (Chulin 5a) on the verse "When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice.. (adam ki yakriv mikem)" - Vayikra 1:2. "among you" implies some of you but not all of you. This excludes a mumar (apostate Jew). "among the animals" this includes people who are like animals. From here they learn that one may accept an offering from sinners so they repent, but not from a mumar... (hence a mumar is different).

However Hillel the elder had a different trait (and learned differently). In the talmud there, they expound the previous verse "adam ki yakriv mikem" - in you I made a distinction but not in the nations.

i.e. the distinction between kosher Jews and mumerim is only for you, but not for the nations. Rather, every gentile is permitted to offer a sacrifice.. Shamai held that although we accept sacrifices from the [mumar of the] nations, but we don't accept them for conversion.

Hillel the elder saw that it was possible to accept them, and the reason they denied the torah was due to ignorance.. the end result demonstrated his view. For all three became righteous converts.
Tiferet Yisrael - make your torah fixed - he included 5 general principles for success in learning and remembering, namely to not learn in a non-fixed way (derech aray).

This includes:
1. In body: learning in a non-fixed or lazy manner such as lying down or sitting prakdon (placing one's hand on his forehead leads to sleep - Pesachim 112a). Or to put one's hand in a plate during winter, "[any Torah scholar who feasts excessively everywhere degrades himself and brings suffering upon himself. He will ultimately destroy his house, widow his wife, orphan his children, and his studies will be forgotten...] his son is called the son of one who fires up ovens (to eat gluttonously)" (Pesachim 49a).

These things cause one's thoughts to sleep and not understand the matter properly.

All the more so, should one not eat or do work while learning.

2. In thoughts: to think on other things when learning. For there is nothing which rattles and ruins grasping of the intellect and of memory than dispersion of thoughts.

For this, they enacted to learn verbally. Through this, other thoughts will disperse away. Furthermore, learning verbally makes a greater imprint in the soul and is better remembered...

Even more damaging to memory is thoughts of worry as our sages said in Sanhedrin 26a.. Rashi explains there: "worry causes one to forget his learning".

Likewise in Menachot 102b and in Eiruvin 65a..

This is not only for thoughts of worry, but even for thoughts of excessive joy. They also damage the intellect and memory in what he is learning then as in the talmud Beitza 21a

However, joy in the thing itself that he is learning - this strengthens the intellect and memory, as written: "I delight in your Law, I will not forget Your word" (Tehilim 119:16), i.e. when the learning is a delight, then "I will not forget your word".

On all this Shammai said: "make your torah fixed", and not unfixed.

3. The word "fixed (keva)" also connotes the matter of tranquility, i.e. tranquility of spirit (menuchat hanefesh). To not learn in a place of commotion, where many people are talking (non-torah) or there are banging noises or other loud noises. All these ruin one's understanding, grasp, and remembrance. Rather, one should have a quiet solitary (undistracted) place for his studies. This helps much in understanding and remembering, be'H.

Thus, it is good to learn in a nice spacious room with many windows and also using a nice, well printed book. For all these things bring tranquility and joy to the soul, broaden his mind, and relieve him of his sadness. Through this, the things [he learns] will firmly take root in his heart.

4. The word "fixed (keva)" also connotes "continuation (hemshech)". Namely, that his learning not be full of interruptions, to learn a little then interrupt, to learn a little more then interrupt. For such interruptions cause one to forget his learning.

For this reason, one's daily learning schedule should not contain too many different matters. Rather, he shoud be fixed (kavua) in no more than three subjects, as our sages said in Eiruvin 54. For by skipping around much in different areas, he will not be free for what he is learning and the matter will not firmly take hold in his heart. For each thought pushes away the other and both are ruined.

And even within one matter, one should not change from one print edition to another, or one room to another, or even from one place in the room to another, even if this is just sometimes. Rather, one should be habituated to fix a fixed time for this learning and a different one for another learning. For a firm schedule will strengthen one's memory, while a changing one weakens it.

5. The word fixed (kavua) also connotes strength and clarity. Namely, that you strengthen your learning and not move from the matter until you feel it is fixed firmly in you like a nail, and clear before you without any darkness or confusion. Then review it quickly by heart until it is fluent in your mouth without needing to look in the book..

After one or two weeks test yourself again whether you remember everything or part of it. When you need to, look again a bit in the book and review it by heart. For experience testifies that habit rules over memory also. This habituating oneself helps most in one's youth. Thus, it is good to habituate a child to review what he learned by heart.

All the more so if one wants to expound publicly or the like, he should review the matter in-depth well a few times at night just before he goes to sleep. Then the matter will not be interrupted by other thoughts afterwards. When one rises in the morning, let him immediately review it again a few times and then it will be like written on a new parchment which does not easily become erased. All this and maybe (he will succeed). For siyata d'shmaya (divine help) is needed to remember the teachings (Megilah 6b)...
Maharal - like Hillel, Shamai also gave mussar according to his trait. We have already clarified that the second of the pair always exhorts on fear, on not doing [something].

"make your torah fixed", to not transgress one's fixed [times of] torah (keviut hatorah).

"say little and do much", for if you say much, perhaps you will not fulfill [your word] and will transgress.

Likewise, "receive every person with a pleasant countenance". For otherwise, it will be as if you are dishonoring (mevaze) your fellow.

All this is a branch of fear of G-d, to not dishonor a man who was created in the divine image.

That which Hillel said: "love peace, pursue peace", certainly one whose trait is thus does not "stand on his trait" (omed al midotav, i.e. such a person tends to overlook wrongs done to him). For if he would "stand on his traits" (and not overlook his honor), how could he "pursue peace"?

For the whole matter of one who "pursues peace" is that he tells his fellow to overlook (mevater) what the other did to him and to not "stand on his trait".

This was certainly the trait of Hillel who was not a kapdan (unforgiving) and whose trait was to overlook.

Thus, Shamai came and said "true, this trait to not 'stand on one's traits' (overlook) is good and this applies to worldly matters . But to lean completely in this way and run everything in this manner is not good.

For in matters of Heaven, it is proper for one's torah to be fixed. If all a person's trait was to not stand on his matters, his conduct in matters of Heaven would also become like this and his torah would not be fixed.

That would not be proper. But for worldly matters, it would be proper for a man to overlook and not stand on his traits. For in his being a human being, he is a changing being and of physicality. He changes and does not stand on one matter. Thus, it is proper for man to not 'stand on his traits' (but rather to overlook).

This is proper only for worldly matters. For in worldly matters, man is physical. Therefore, he should conduct himself in like manner.

But for matters of Heaven such as mitzvot and the torah which is intellect (sichlit), and which does not depend on the body who is physical and subject to change, there it is proper for his torah to be fixed and that he not overlook (mevater) at all. He should not transgress his fixing, but rather 'stand on his trait' and not change except when it is proper according to one's intellect...

Likewise on "say little and do much". For if one says (he will learn) but does not do, this is not proper in torah. For there is no changing in things of intellect (sichli), rather only in things of physicality. Thus, just like in torah itself there is no change, so too it is not proper for there to be any change at all in the study of torah...

"receive every person with a pleasant countenance" - here too Shammai follows his trait. For according to Hillel, whose trait is for one not to stand on his trait and to not be upset (kepeda) on anything, there should be no claims for not "receiving a person with a pleasant countenance" (by the recipient).

For it is not proper to be upset (makpid) on this. Nevertheless, from the side of the person doing, it is proper for him to be meticulous (makpid) in this to the utmost extent until he receives "every person with a pleasant countenance".

He should not tell himself: "there is no kepeda (claim) on this and that man will not be makpid (upset) in this if he is not received with a pleasant countenance.

Through this, Shammai compliments (mashlim) his mussar and the mussar of Hillel, such that both together are certainly good. For between man and his fellow, one should not have any claims (kepeda).

But for matters of Heaven, he should have claims (kepeda), even though from the side of the receiver, he will (should) certainly not be upset (makpid) if his fellow does not "receive him with a pleasant countenance". But the person doing should be meticulous (makpid)...

Thus the mussar of Shammai and Hillel was regarding that there not be separation (peirud) between people, rather only friendship.

If you ask: "but Yehoshua ben Perachya of the third pair already said: "judge every person favorably"?

Answer: that is not the same as here. For there he was only saying that the public should not be evil in your eyes, as he said "make yourself a Rav and acquire a friend", and do not say they are not proper for you. Thus, he was not referring to joining people together such that there is no separation (peirud, ill-feeling) between them (like Hillel and Shammai).

Furthermore, there it was not the primary mussar [of his teaching]. It was only mentioned as a side point. In this the mussar of the fifth pair is complete...
Maharal - (summary of the five pairs) - We have clarified that all five pairs, and also Antignos who was first, were always adding on the previous teaching...

Antignos began with man himself, how he should conduct himself..

Afterwards, the first pair rectified man's conduct with the members of his household who are close to him but are not the man himself.

Afterwards, the second pair rectified his Rav, friends and neighbors who are further away but are nevertheless close to him.

Afterwards the third pair rectified the conduct of those who are judges and leaders. This is further still.

Afterwards the fourth pair speaks of the conduct of the Baal Sherara (person of authority) who is even further in his being a Baal Sherara, separate from them. But nevertheless there is some connection in that he is their Baal Sherara.

Afterwards, the fifth pair rectified every person, so that the connection of peace not be severed. There is no further rectification in the order of the world (everything was included).

All of them rectified man in love and fear. From here on, the receivers were not singular (meyuchadim) in that they did not fully receive from their Rav (lo shimshu Rabam kol tzarkam) (i.e. they were unable to receive all the torah of their Rav due to the diminishing of the generations [in wisdom]).

You will see that the number of pairs was five. This number corresponds to the five earlier receivers (Moshe, Yehoshua, Elders, Prophets, Men of the Great Assembly).

For Shimon Hatzadik, who was of the remnants of the "Men of the Great Assembly" is considered by himself, as we explained earlier. Likewise Antignos of Socho was a single individual and is not counted with the pairs.

For the pairs, one was Nassi (chief leader), while the second was Av Beit Din (chief judge). The five pairs correspond to the five earlier receivers and Antignos was only to separate between the early receivers and the later receivers.

He was like the early receivers in that he did not have a pair. For Moshe, Yehoshua, the Elders, the Prophets, and the "Men of the Great Assembly" also did not have a pair, since they all had one name.. (each individual received the whole torah unlike the pairs where the torah was received by both together as before).

Thus Antignos would separate between the two sets of receivers. For it is not proper for the pairs to receive from the Men of the great assembly, who don't have pairs. For the pairs who are two individuals are not worth (great in torah) like the men of the great assembly.

But Antignos was similar to the early ones in that the Tradition did not have division and he was like the later ones in being an individual (without equal), as we explained. In this, way the receivers are connected together.

That which the receivers were always five is not a coincidence.. You will likewise find that when the torah was given to the Jewish people, it was given through five "voices" (kolot). Through these five voices it spread to the whole world, as they said in a Midrash on the verse: "in the beginning I did not speak in secret, from the time it was" (Isaiah 48:16) That there were five voices, the voice would go out to all 4 directions and the fifth one in the middle. Therefore, the torah was given in five voices (kolot). Through them the torah spread out to the whole world.

Because of this, the receivers through which the torah spread to the whole world were five early ones and five later ones. For it was not proper for the torah to spread to the whole world through a single individual. Rather, through five as it did originally..

From here on, the torah diminishes. But until the five, the torah did not diminish. Each had a pair to help him in the receiving of the torah. But before the pairs, the receiving of the torah was not in pairs. For that which the prophets received from Yehoshua, each individual received [the whole torah] without a helper as was with the pairs.

Therefore at first, before the Second Temple, the torah had the power to spread until five [receivers]. And likewise for the pairs whereby there was a new matter of a helper, the torah also had power to spread until five... you must understand this well.

Now it is clear that the whole matter of the receiving of the torah was very orderly.. The first five before the second temple whereby torah was more in the world and five pairs during the second temple when wisdom began to diminish from people. Thus the receivers were pairs.

Athough Shimon Hatzadik was in the beginning of the Second Temple, he was also before the Second Temple. For he was of the "Men of the Great Assembly"...

It is also proper that there be pairs, one Nassi and one Av Beit Din, during the second temple era. This is known to the men of understanding. For it is written on the second Temple: "The glory of this last House shall be greater than the first one" (Chagai 2:9).

The reason is known to the men of understanding. For the Temple was built with two hands.. as brought in the talmud (Ketuvot 5a).

Due to this, it included two aspects, the right hand and the left hand, which are the powers of the Nassi and Av Beit Din.

Thus, there were pairs specifically during the second temple, and there was then more love and fear.

Hence, Antignos exhorted on the foundation, namely, love and fear. Afterwards, the pairs came. For each pair, one exhorted on love and the other on fear. This is as the level of the second Temple which included love and fear.

You shoud understand these things very very well, for they are clear.
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - (kabalistic) - it is known that the torah is called "emuna" (faith). For emuna has gematria "kav" (kuf-beit=102), to hint that the torah has four parts - pshat, remez, drosh, sod. Thus it is called "kav" whose gematria is emuna. For a "kav" has four lugin, corresponding to the four parts of torah - pshat, remez, drosh, sod. It is also known that the torah has 70 facets (panim). Namely, for these four parts hinted in "kav", each part has 70 facets. On this he said: "make your torah fixed (kevah)", ie "kav-ayin", that in each part of "kav" derive chidushim in 70 facets.

"say little (mem-ayin-tet)" - our sages said that Moshe Rabeinu received 49 reasons (taamim) on everything.. our sages said this is independent of the 70 facets (panim). For facets (panim) means ways (ofanim). Namely, each verse in the torah can be explained in 70 ways.

But taamim means that in every Halacha, there are 49 reasons (taamim), whether on it being permitted or forbidden. Thus the words of torah have 49 reasons (taamim) and 70 (facets). The sage hinted to this in the letters "little" (mem-ayin-tet), which are "mem-tet" (49) "ayin" (70).

The intent is: "strive and toil to arrive at the 49 reasons and 70 facets". This is the meaning of "say little (mem-ayin-tet)", and "do much" (aseh harbe), make many students and do not be weary of their great multitude. Rather, "receive every person" who comes to learn from you, "with a pleasant countenance".