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Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 2 Mishna 6
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 2 Mishna 6פרק ב משנה ו
He would say: a boor cannot be sin-fearing, an ignoramus (am-haaretz) cannot be a pious (chasid); a bashful cannot learn, an impatient cannot teach. Not all who engage in much business become wise. In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אֵין בּוּר יְרֵא חֵטְא, וְלֹא עַם הָאָרֶץ חָסִיד, וְלֹא הַבַּיְשָׁן לָמֵד, וְלֹא הַקַּפְּדָן מְלַמֵּד, וְלֹא כָל הַמַּרְבֶּה בִסְחוֹרָה מַחְכִּים. וּבְמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין אֲנָשִׁים, הִשְׁתַּדֵּל לִהְיוֹת אִישׁ:

Bartenura - a boor is empty of everything. Even the ways of business trade (i.e. work) he does not know. He is worse than an am haaretz. The aramaic translation (targum) of "that the land not be desolate" (Gen.47:19) is "that the land will not become boor".

"an am haaretz cannot be a chasid" - but he can be sin-fearing. For he is knowledgeable in the ways of business trade (earning a livelihood, dealing with people).

An am haaretz wants to rectify the land but he lacks wisdom to discern his rectifications properly (from bartenura on Avot 5:10).
Rabeinu Yonah - the boor is empty. He has neither torah nor mitzvot nor derech eretz (proper decency).. He is not even a "sin-fearing" person. For due to the emptiness in him, he does not how to guard himself even from sin.

But the am haaretz is mixed with others (involved in society), he can be fearing sin. For since he has important traits and a bit of right views, he knows how to guard himself from sins and can become a tzadik. Namely, one who does and fulfills what he was commanded. But for the level of Chasidut (extra piety), no man can approach it or reach it except one who is great in torah. For it is a trait requiring purity of heart, refinement of soul and all good traits. And this man lacks wisdom to bend it from the middle way to the extreme end and act beyond the letter of the law. On this he is called an am haaretz. For most people are like him.
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "boor" - this is one who has neither torah which is a tree of life, nor good deeds.. The term boor comes from "a boor field" (Peah2:1). This is a field which was not sown and grows nothing. Such a person does not fear sinning because he does not recognize the lowliness of sin and its punishment.
Rosh Avot - "am haaretz (lit. people of the land)" - in the book Igeret Hatiyul, brought in the book Taamei Haminhagim (pg.528): "the reason he is called an 'am haaretz' is because he holds and clings [firmly] to working the land and the vanities of this world until he thinks he is a permanent resident (toshav) of the land. But the Chachamim (wise) and Tzadikim (righteous) think themselves as temporary residents (gerim) here in this world.

A wealthy man from france once came to visit the Chafetz Chaim. When he arrived at his home, he was astonished at how bare was the home of such a great sage. The wealthy man asked him: "where are all your possessions?" The Chafetz Chaim replied: "and where are yours?" The wealthy man said: "but I am just a passing traveller here." The Chafetz Chaim answered: "so am I".
Rambam - "boor" - he has neither wisdom nor middot (good character traits).

"am haaretz" - he does not have the qualities of intellect (maalot hasechel) but he has a bit of qualities of middot (character traits).

Rosh Avot - "a boor cannot be sin-fearing" - a hint to this in the verse: "the pit was empty there was no water in it" (Gen.37:24), which the talmud expounds: "there was no water in it, but there were snakes and scorpions in it".

The hint is: "if the pit (bor), i.e. boor (with shuruk) is empty", that there is no water, i.e. torah, then there are snakes and scorpions. That is to say, if there is no torah in him, perforce there will be sins and iniquity in him. For the "snake" symbolizes sin, as in "it is not the snake which kills but the sin" (Berachot 33a). Thus, "a boor cannot be sin-fearing".
Tiferet Yehoshua - "a boor cannot fear sin" - the holy Kotzke Rebbe said on this: "it is evident. For if this boor were sin-fearing, he would have learned torah and not remained a boor."

We may say similarly for the am haaretz, since remaining an am haaretz is against the letter of the law, for every Jew is obligated duty to study torah, if so, how can he become a chasid, namely, act beyond the letter of the law? He did not even reach the letter of the law yet.
Chatam Sofer, parsha Reeh - "an am-haaretz cannot be a chasid" - the reason is as the Chovot Halevavot wrote (5:5) : "the extra (piety) is not acceptable until one first pays the obligatory. And if a man does not fulfill all the mitzvot of the torah properly, G-d will not accept from him the extra he does"...
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - "an am haaretz cannot be a chasid" - i.e. when he has someone to ask [what he should do] and nevertheless, he does not ask. But if he did not have anyone to ask, and also he did not have the ability to attain by himself, and he did all in his power to toil, he tried and toiled as much as possible - behold he is worthy of ruach hakodesh and wondrous levels beyond comparison, equal to a man great in torah.
Chachma U'Mussar 1:229 - he did not say "a boor is not Heaven-fearing (Yarei Shamayim)". For it is possible for him to be a Heaven-fearing. Namely, that he thinks always mental pictures of Olam Haba, reward and punishment. But nevertheless, he does not fear sin, namely, to distance and flee 70 gates from sin. Rather, he trusts that when sin comes to his hand, he will separate from it.

But since he does not distance and flee from sin, then when a sin comes to his hand, a "spirit of folly" enters in him and his intellect departs from him temporarily. (as the talmud says in Sotah 3: "A person does not commit a sin unless a spirit of folly (ruach shetut) enters into him".)

This is what we learned in Berachot 13a: "why did accepting the yoke of Heaven precede the accepting the yoke of mitzvot?.." For accepting the yoke of Heaven is fear of Heaven (yirat shamayim), while accepting the yoke of mitzvot is fear of sin - i.e. to distance and flee seventy gates from sin. This is the primary fear, to distance the yetzer (evil inclination) from the gate of sin in order that the spirit of folly will not enter inside him at all.
Bartenura - "a bashful cannot learn" - for one who is embarassed to ask lest others mock him, he will remain always with his doubts.
Rabeinu Yonah - "a bashful cannot learn" - the trait of shame is good in every matter except (torah) study...
Meorei Ohr - Rabeinu Yitzchak wrote that the "bashful" (bayshan) here is better than the am haaretz. He wants to learn and his soul longs for torah, but he is embarrassed to ask his doubts and difficulties. And even after his Rabbi explained the halacha to him and asks him: "did you understand what I told you?", and he did not understand, but even so he replies "yes". He is embarassed to say "no". Thus, he reaps nothing from all his toil.

The mishna exhorts on removing the veil of shame from his face. Through this, he will attain his desire and will (in torah). Likewise, we find the torah exhorts: "Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will inform you" (Devarim 32:7)..
Bartenura - "an impatient cannot teach" - the Rav who is impatient (makpid) on the students when they ask him something, he cannot teach properly..
Rambam - "an impatient [cannot teach]" - he is makpid (irritated) by everything and gets angry.
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "impatient (kapdan)" - his mind is narrow. He is unable to receive the different views of the students. For "not all peoples' views are alike" (lo kol deot shavot). Rather, the teacher needs to be of accepting mind, encouraging and explaining the questioners, even those who ask dry, off topic questions.
Bartenura - "not all who engage in much business become wise" - as written, "Nor is it across the sea" (Devarim 30:13) - the torah is not found by those who travel across the sea (Eiruvin 55a).
Daat Sofer ohel hinda peticha 3 - "not all who engage in much business become wise" - our sages expounded: " 'nor is it across the sea" (Devarim 30:13) - not by merchants nor by traders" (Eiruvin 55a). For one who wishes to toil and delve deeply in the torah cannot toil in business. Our sages already said "Not all who engage in much business become wise".

He who wishes to be crowned with the crown of torah should empty his heart of all matters of business and all his thoughts need to be only and solely in torah study. For "torah is acquired with minimal derech eretz" (Avot 6:6), and "this is the way of torah.." (Avot 6:4), and "the torah was given to expound only to those who ate the manna, second to them, those who eat teruma" (Tanchum, Shemot 20). For only he who has no worry on his livelihood is able to expound the torah and delve into it...
Tiferet Yehoshua - "not all who engage in much business become wise" - for one who increases business, namely, he spends much time in business matters to increase his money, he necessarily minimizes in torah study. And what wisdom is this? For a man takes from an eternal world and exchanges it for a fleeting world. Thus if he increases in business, this itself is not wise.
Ben Ish Chai - Birkat Avot - he said "not all" to exclude one who does much business l'shem Shamayim. Namely, so he will become wealthy to increase tzedaka and many mitzvot, and assist many torah scholars in the way of Yissachar and Zevulun. Such a person will become wise. For he will be helped from Heaven and will succeed in his deeds. Namely, G-d will bless him.
Bartenura - "strive to be a man" - to sit at the head and instruct (l'horot).
Rashi - "in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man" - and toil in the needs of the tzibur. But in a place where there is a man already - you should toil in your torah.
Rambam - "strive to be a man" - habituate your soul and draw it to acquire the qualities. And after there are no wise men who will teach you, teach yourself.
Meiri - i.e. if you don't find a Chacham (torah sage) to learn from him, strive to learn by yourself until you become "a man"..
Rosh Avot - "in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man" - Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explained: even if you are in your inner chambers and no one is looking, "strive to be a man" to act with mussar and derech eretz. For "the eyes of G-d.." (Divrei Hayamim II 16:9), and "the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3).

And all the more so when he is with his wife and children - "strive to be a man". Rav Chaim Vital already wote that a man's character traits are measured only and solely by how he related to his wife. For it is the way of a man to act outside with derech eretz and decency in order to find favor in the eyes of his surroundings. But not so with his household which he is obligated to them. Therefore, a man's nature and character traits are measured only when he is in the company of his wife and household. On this, he wrote: "in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man".
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - "man" - it is known that every bestower (mashpia) is called "man", whereas the receiver is called woman. This is the meaning of "in a place where there are no men", there is no bestower above and below, namely, no one toiling in torah in order to bestow, "strive that you yourself be a bestower (mashpia), that you learn torah at those times when the world is idle from this.
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - (kabalistic) - in page 6 of the book "Mishpat Tzedek" on Tehilim, I read there: in truth, the duty to toil in torah and mitzvot at all times is very great. However, the duty is greatest at times when most of the world is idle from torah study, such as friday after midday, erev yom tov, chol hamoed, or the like.

Then most people are idle from toiling in torah, etc. At these times it is a great duty for every G-d fearing person to strengthen himself and rouse his heart to toil in torah and avodah at these times more than other times. His reward from Heaven will be multiplied over many times, etc. And especially since then, the angels are idle above because there is not so much rousing (hitorerut) from below.

And in midrash shmuel, on "if you would be idle from the torah" (Avot 4:10), you think that you alone go idle. On this, he continued "there are many idlers opposite you" (ibid).

Namely, angels above. For there are many encampments (machanot) of angels whose primary life force and spiritual flow (chiyutam and shefa) depends on the rousing from below.

Therefore, put to heart how many are going idle above due to you. For they depend on the toil of the torah scholars below. end quote.

With this, I explained the hint in the verse: "You, who sit in the gardens the friends hearken to your voice; let me hear it" (Shir 8:13).

The intent of "who sit in the gardens" is to synagogues and places of torah study. Behold, above there are "friends" who listen to you, namely, the ministering angels. They are called "friends" because they don't have any jealousy or hatred. . They listen to you. For they hope to your toil in torah since their primary shefa comes through your toil in torah. Therefore "let me hear your voice", so that I can sustain the angels through this. For their life force depends on your toil in torah.
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - "strive to be a man" - Rabeinu Yonah explained: "in a place where there are not others greater in wisdom than you, strive to be a man (the word "man" connotes the greatness of man, such as 'and the man Moses..' (Bamidbar 12:3).

And even if there is no one greater in wisdom than you in your city or even in your generation, nevertheless, do not refrain from increasing wisdom. See yourself as if you were in the generation of the sages of the talmud, etc. imagine you were standing with the prophets up until Moshe Rabeinu, and [ask yourself] when will you attain their levels and wisdom?". end quote.

We must know that a man is under duty at all times and especially in our generation of lowly stature, to think always on the greatness of man and the great men of previous generations. To see and contemplate through this how great is man's obligation and to not become slack in the service.

For to our dismay in our lowly state, anyone who dons an important jacket and grows a beard and peot is considered a tzadik. The matter is shocking. These are the words of Rabeinu Yonah on our mishna...

If one does this contemplation (on the greatness of man and the great men of previous generations) he will certainly not become slack in the service.
Tiferet Yisrael - a boorish and empty man. He is like a barren (unworked) field, his heart was not sowed with torah nor derech eretz, mussar, and just ways. He is worse than an am haaretz. For the latter has derech eretz at least (Sotah 22a). For such a person, it is possible for him to be G-d fearing and not sin. But all his service, righteousness, and virtue is only out of fear of punishment. All his duties towards G-d and man are like laws he is forced to do. He does not do them due to fear of sin itself, i.e. out of fear that he will become an abomination in the eyes of G-d. For his soul was not roused in proper love of G-d and man.

"a bashful cannot learn" - he who fears that his honor might be diminished when he asks on something hard and complex that he saw in a book or heard and did not understand. For he fears he will be viewed as one who lacks understanding. Such a person will always remain lacking knowledge.

"an impatient [cannot teach]" - he who is an impatient (kapdan) and angry person is not fit to be a teacher to the students or to the congregation. For besides that through anger, the wisdom of the teacher will depart at that time and he cannot explain the matter properly (Pesachim 66b), and both the mind of the speaker and listener will be confused, besides this, how can the student heed the words of one who hates him? Namely, the Rav or teacher who is ike a fiery furnace which shoots out bolts, arrows and death all around him with fury and wrath. But "the words of the wise are heard gently" (Kohelet 9:17).
Chasdei David - all the words of Hillel here exhort on things which prevent torah study.

"a bashful cannot learn" - for if he is embarrassed to ask and is concerned others will mock him, he will always remain with his doubts and will not be able to learn properly. Likewise, a kapdan who is irritated on the students when they ask him questions will not be able to teach properly.

For through anger, his wisdom will depart (see Pesachim 66b). Likewise one who engages in much business does not become wise in torah.. Thus, strive to be a man and overcome these obstacles..
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - if you observe the congregation in the synagogue, you will see that most fall under the name "boor" while few fall under the name tzadik. This is hinted in the word tzibur, which consists of the letter tzadik and the letters "boor". Both joined together form the word tzibur.

But only the first letter of the word tzadik is there to teach on their few number. But all the letters of the word boor are there to teach on their multitude..

Don't say "I will separate from them, and not pray with them, so my prayer will not be mixed with these boors". On the contrary it is good for you to pray with them, and your prayer mixing with theirs will avail you more, as our sages said: "any prayer mixed with that of the sinners of Israel is more accepted. For in the temple incense, the chelbana spice had a bad smell but was nevertheless counted with the required spices of the incense mixture."

Therefore, if your prayer is mixed with that of the boors which itself is repulsive, it will grant importance to your prayer. For it is impossible for your prayer to be properly whole, without any deficiency.

But now when it is mixed with the prayers of the boors, it will ascend. For its deficiency is less apparent relative to the others. This is as our sages said on the verse: "I found Israel like grapes in the desert" (Hoshea 9:10).

If you say: "since my prayer gains relative importance and level due to mixing with the prayer of the boors, if so, it is good to mix with the wicked, to sit with them and join their company so that my deeds will also gain relative importance..

On this he said (last mishna): "do not believe in yourself until the day of your death", i.e. do not believe in yourself thinking you can join the wicked man and not learn (be influenced) by his deeds.. For it is impossible to join a wicked man and not learn (be influenced) by his deeds.

And do not say: I will also not join even those who are accepted as tzadikim for maybe internally they are wicked and this will come out through my association with them.. better for me to sit alone and abstain from everyone". On this he said: "do not judge your fellow", to say maybe he is wicked internally, "until you reach his place", and you see this actually..
Maharal - ..if we were to explain the words of the sages according to how many people understand them, namely, that the bashful cannot learn because he does not ask on what he lacks understanding, the kapdan cannot teach because the student is afraid to ask questions, the much-engaged merchant cannot grow wise due to his many occupations - if so, any man could have said these things, even an average man... and even a school child can say these things.

Behold, we already said many times that the words of the sages are only Wisdom (chochma). They are not words of human beings which speak things according to human logic.

That which he said here: "a boor cannot be sin-fearing, an ignoramus (am-haaretz) cannot be pious", you should know that these two names represent two distinct levels, despite that their matter is the same, namely, they don't have torah and Wisdom.

But they are divided into two names due to their being two distinct levels.

For a thing which is desolate is called "boor", such as "that the land be not desolate" (Gen.47:19) - whose Targum is "will not be boor". Thus a field which does not have any produce is called a "boor field".

Likewise from the aspect of not having any wisdom, a man may be called a "boor", for he is empty of wisdom. (translator: and wisdom is the fruit of man).

Similarly, from the aspect of lacking wisdom, a man may be called an "am haaretz". For a [physical] body which is connected (mechubar) to Wisdom is not the same as a [physical] body which is devoid of wisdom.

A man who does not have torah has two matters:
One, he is empty of wisdom.
Two, the body of man, which is the receptacle of wisdom, is found lacking when a man does not have wisdom in him.

From the first aspect, he is called "boor", while from the second aspect, he is called an "am haaretz".

Hence, a man without torah has a deficiency from the aspect of the body and from the aspect of the intellect (sechel).

From the aspect of the intellect not being found in him he is called a boor. While, from the aspect that all the powers of the body are lacking in him when he is without wisdom and torah, he is called an am haaretz.

This is what he said: "a boor cannot be sin-fearing". For "the fear of Heaven" (yirat shamayim), namely, that he receives the fear from G-d (shehu mekabel hayira min Hash-em) - and one who lacks the torah, which is the true wisdom, does not receive the fear [of Heaven] from G-d. (translator: since he is far from G-d. But not that G-d sends him fear, as explained in Rabbi Hartman's commentary)

Our sages also said this: "if there is no wisdom, there is no fear" (Avot 3:17), as we will explain.

This matter is clear. For when a man is close to the king, he fears him. But when he is distant from the king, he does not fear him. Since then he is not affected (by his presence) and does not fear him at all.

Likewise, a man who lacks the spiritual torah (hatorah hasichlit) is called far from G-d, blessed be He. For closeness to G-d is through the torah so that through the torah, human beings cleave to Him, blessed be He, as we explained earlier.

This matter is clear. For the clinging of a man to G-d is through a man's having torah within himself.

Without this, a man is just a [creature of physical] body (baal guf). And a [creature of physical], corporeal body has no way to approach G-d, who is devoid of body.

Only through torah which is [divine] Intellect (sichlit), through this, a man has a way to draw close to G-d. Therefore, one who does not have wisdom and torah is considered far from G-d, blessed be He. And as before, fear of the king is only when one is close to the king.

Therefore, a boor, i.e. one who does not have wisdom, does not have fear of sin. Namely, that he fears from G-d. This matter is clear.

"an am haaretz cannot be a chasid" - for a man who has in him the Wisdom [of torah], from the aspect that his body is connected to the Intellect (mechubar l'sechel), he has refinement of the physical (zachut hachomer). For without a doubt, the body of a man is not the same as the body of an animal. For since the body of an animal is not close to the Intellect (sechel), it is of completely coarse and gross physicality.

But for the body of man, since man has an intellect (sechel), his physicality is fine and pure (dak v'zach). And when he is a possessor of Wisdom completely, then he is completely devoid of the coarseness of the physicality.

Due to this, it is possible for piety (chasidut) to exist in him, namely, that he is a good man who acts piously with everyone.

The opposite of this - "an am haaretz cannot be a chasid". For he is far from the good since he is of coarse, gross physicality. How then can he have piety?

For piety (chasidut) is from the aspect that he is a good man, and this good will exist when he is divested of the coarseness of physicality until he is near the Intellectual (sichli). Then good will be found in him. But this person who is an am haaretz, and he is of gross physicality, how can he be pious to act beyond the letter of the law? For that occurs only from the aspect of good alone and this good is not found in the physicality as we explained above.

Thus, he said that one who does not have a Sechel (Intellect), which is the torah, he does not have fear of Heaven in him due to lacking the Sechel which is the torah. For through the Sechel, he has fear of Heaven in him. But if he does not have the Sechel, there is no fear here as they said: "if there is no wisdom, there is no fear" (Avot 3:17).

And since the man lacks the level of sechel, he is [perforce] of coarse, gross physicality. Therefore, he cannot be a Chasid, to do good beyond the letter of the law. For this comes only from divestment of the physicality. And the more one turns to the physicality, the less he has good.

You will find this matter expressed clearly. Namely, that all things divested from the physicality are called good. The torah itself is called good, as written: "For I gave you good teaching; forsake not My Torah" (Mishlei 4), and in Menachot (53a): "let the good come and receive the good from the good to the good ones".

The explanation of this is that Moshe was worthy to receive the torah. Moshe was called "good" because he was the man of G-d, he was like an angel (spiritual being), divested of the physicality which is evil.

Therefore, he was fit to receive the torah which is the divine intellect (sechel Eloki), completely divested of all physicality. This is why the torah is called good.

It was given to Yisrael, for they are called "Adam", as written: "you are adam" (Yechezkel 34:31). For since they are not of coarse physicality, therefore, they are called "Adam". For as we said earlier, the Adam has no animal physicality. So too Yisrael who are more divested of the physicality are worthy to be called "Adam" due to this.

Therefore, all these things are worthy of being called good for they are separated from the coarseness of the physicality. You can see from this that "good" applies to something separated from the physicality.

This is what he said: "an am haaretz cannot be pious". For everywhere, chasidut (piety) refers to the trait of "good". This trait does not apply to an am haaretz. For he is of gross physicality and lacks refinement of the physical. He is only of coarse, gross physicality.

Due to this, he is not a chasid, to act within the letter of the law. For Chasidut is from the aspect of divestment and refinement, i.e. being separated from the coarseness of the physicality.

You should understand this for it is words of Wisdom.

"a bashful (bayshan) cannot learn" - this is as our sages explained. It is written: " 'is not My word like fire?', says the L-ord" (Yirmiyahu 23:29), and "from His right hand was a fiery Law for them" (Devarim 33:2). And in Beitzah 25b:
"Why was the Torah given to Israel? Because they are brazen. The School of R.Yishmael taught: 'At His right hand was a fiery law unto them'; the Holy One, blessed be He, said: These are worthy to be given the fiery law."

i.e. just like they themselves are brazen, so too they are fit for the torah which is fire, to attach to them. For every matter which is Sichli (transcendent intellect), like the torah, it possesses power and brazenness like fire which is brazen.

Therefore, the torah is fitting for Yisrael since they too are brazen. This is what was said here: "a bashful (bayshan) cannot learn". For the bayshan who is the opposite of the brazen, it is impossible for him to receive the torah.

For the torah was given to Yisrael because they are brazen. The torah connects (mityacheset) to Yisrael due to this.

Thus since he is a bashful, he cannot receive the torah. For the receiver needs to connect (mityaches) to what he receives. And since the torah is mityacheset to fire, if a man is not mityaches to this, he cannot receive the torah.
(Translator: some quotes brought in Rabbi Hartman's commentary on the Maharal:
In Gevurot Hash-em ch.72, the Maharal writes: "the Jewish people are brazen. For their soul is not immersed in the physicality. Therefore, they are brazen. For the soul acts while the physical is only acted upon (translator: by laws of physics, instincts, etc). Thus, the brazenness of the Jews teaches that their soul is not so immersed in the physicality. Therefore they are brazen. For every brazen (az) has power to act (koach poel), but one who is a bayshan is acted upon (mitpael, like all things physical)..."

And in Netiv HaTorah (ch.2): "the torah is the sechel elyon (supernal intellect) and it is thus hard to acquire. Therefore, a man needs preparations to receive the torah. For otherwise, he cannot receive it... Because man is of physical body and the torah is divine intellect. Therefore, a man needs to be far from traits which are physical and cling to that which is sichli (intellect/spiritual)..."

And in Netzach Yisrael (ch.7): "the torah and the body are two opposites. If so, how can the torah which is sichli exist in a physical body of man, which is its oppposite? Therefore, the torah cannot exist in a man of physicality (adam gashmi). For they are like two unrelated and incompatible things which cannot co-exist...
"an irritable (kapdan) cannot teach" - for a man is of physical body. Thus if the teacher is a kapdan and a kapdan is fire, his fire adds to the fire of the torah.

Already it was [hard] enough for a man of physical body to receive the torah of fire. If now the additional fire (of the kapdan) is added, it is now impossible to receive all this fire.

(in the ketav yad: "for the teacher needs to have a connection to he who receives from him. But when the teacher is a kapdan, he is all fire, and there cannot be a connection between him and the receiver).

And if Yisrael were not brazen, as mentioned, they would not be fit to receive [even] the torah which is fire. This is the meaning of "an irritable (kapdan) cannot teach".

"Not all who engage in much trade become wise" - this matter was also clarified by the sages in tractate Eiruvin (55a):
"Rebbi Yochanan expounded: 'it (the torah) is not in Heaven' (Devarim 30:12) - it is not to be found among the arrogant; 'neither is it beyond the sea' (Devarim 30:12) - it is not to be found among merchants or dealers".
It is proper to ask: what connection is there between these two things together that he said: "you will not find the torah among the arrogant and the merchants?"

Furthermore, what is the explanation of the verse: "It is not in heaven.. Nor is it beyond the sea.. Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it" (Devarim 30:12-14).

The explanation of these things is that the verse comes to say that the torah is not a physical matter.

For physical matters it is relevant to speak about distance. Sometimes they are so distant from a man that it impossible for him to reach them. Thus he said the torah of intellect (torah Sichlit) is not like this. For it is not physical, and that which is not physical is both near and far. It is far from the aspect of its loftiness and near from the aspect that it has no physical distance away.

Therefore, the verse says on the torah that "it is not concealed from you, nor is it far away from you" (ibid), i.e. it does not have physical distance. For the distance in physical things is in three dimensions, height, length and width.

Corresponding to height, he said: "it is not in heaven", which refers to physical height. Corresponding to length and width, he said: 'nor is it across the sea". For the sea is on length and width of the land and covers it.

This means to say that the torah does not have any physical distance. Due to this itself, the verse hints that the torah is not in the arrogant. For since the torah has no physical distance, therefore, it is the opposite of the arrogant who thinks he is elevated above everyone.

Due to this, the arrogant leans to the physicality for distance is physical. And it is known that the trait of arrogance is a physical trait. Although it is not really elevation but the trait nevertheless tends to the physicality.

Thus he is called "arrogant (gass ruach)". For the term "gassut" (coarse) applies to the physicality not the Intellect (sechel). The Intellect (sechel) does not have any coarseness (gassut), for it is all fine (dak).

We explained this matter already in several places. And since the trait of the arrogant (gass ruach) is to turn to the physicality, therefore, the torah is not fitting for him, and the gass ruach is not suitable to the torah sichlit. For things which are not related to each other cannot connect together.

"it is not to be found among merchants or dealers" - after the verse says that the torah does not have physical distances, and mentioned that it is not over the sea which is physical distance in length, therefore, the merchants who trade and travel around the world, on its length and width..

Due this, they are unsuitable to torah. For the torah does not have a matter of physicality, namely, physical distances. Thus, the torah is not fitting for them, for it is divested of these distances...

Thus "not all who engage in much trade become wise", as if to say that he is suited to travel around the world's length and width but not for torah..

He said specifically "much trade".. i.e. with excessive toil, this teaches that all of this man's matters are of physicality and he has no connection to the sechel and is not suited for it...

Know that the Tanna came to rectify (mashlim) a man in all his parts. A man has a sechel, nefesh, body, and money (possessions). These things encompass all that pertains to a man. Therefore, he said that if a man does not have a sechel, he has no fear of Heaven and no piety. Therefore, he should be a baal sechel.

Corresponding to the soul (nefesh), he said "an irritable cannot teach". It is known that anger comes from the nefesh. For his heart heats up, therefore a man should be careful to not be drawn excessively after the traits of the nefesh.

So too, he must not be drawn excessively by the traits of the body and be compared to an animal. For bashfulness is a physical animal trait. For the soul has extreme brazenness (as before). And afterwards, he said: "not all who engage in much business become wise" corresponding to the money (possessions). Namely, to not be drawn after excessive monetary occupations.

"In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man" - after mentioning the mussar of man in all relevant domains, including money, for through his money, man is able to stand and sustain himself, as mentioned in many places in the words of the sages, afterwards, he spoke on the man himself who includes all the things which make a man whole. On this he said: "In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man", i.e. when it seems there are no men, strive to be a man. For then his reward will be much greater. For without his doing for others, they would not have done the right things...

We have clarified how the mussar of Hillel encompasses straightening all man's parts, to give mussar to each parts, and afterwards to the man himself.

This is the way of the Chachamim (torah sages) - to teach all-encompassing mussar.

There are more deeper matters of wisdom here. We already hinted on this above by "a boor cannot be sin-fearing, an am-haaretz cannot be pious", only that we cannot explain more than this clearly.
Rabbi Hartman pg.130, hebrewbooks.org/42839 - (kabalistic) - the mishna mentions six things: "(1) an am haaretz cannot be a chasid, (2) a boor cannot fear sin, (3) a bashful cannot learn, (4) a kapdan cannot teach, (5) not all who engage much in trade become wise, (6) in a place where there is no man, strive to be a man.

These are six middot [Chesed, Yirah, Lilmod, Lelamed, Chachma, Ish], which correspond to the 6 sefirot Chagat-Nahi, namely, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, which correspond to Avraham (chesed), Yitzchak (Gevurah), Yaakov (Tiferet), Moshe (netzach), Aharon (Hod), Yosef (Yesod).

We have explained already above that Chesed and Yirah are the first two sefirot. "a bashful cannot learn" - this is Tiferet, the trait of Yaakov who was "sitting in tents" (Gen.25:27). "a kapdan cannot teach", this is the trait of Moshe who would teach torah to Yisrael (see the Gra's commentary who brings a verse on Moshe here). His trait is Netzach (Zohar II 276b).

"Not all who engage much in trade become wise" - this is the trait of Hod. We will explain according to his words in Tiferet Yisrael ch.18:
"He called the Sechel 'taya' (merchant). For the Sechel investigates on things and travels the world through its length and width. It even investigates non-physical things and grasps them. This is the matter of 'merchant'.. who trades and circles the land, through its length and width. Therefore, the Sechel is called 'taya' (merchant). For the 'taya' also trades and circles the land's length and width and acquires merchandise."

Thus it refers to wisdom that a man grasps on his own and was not revealed to him from others. As known this is the trait of Hod, which is the trait of Aharon the Kohen (Zohar II 276b), the aspect of the Oral Torah, which bestows according to the ability to receive.

"In a place where the is not a man" - this is the trait of Yesod. For "man" refers to this (Zohar I 6a, 60a). This is the trait of Yosef..