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 2 Mishna 8
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 2 Mishna 8פרק ב משנה ח
He would say: the more flesh, the more worms. The more possessions, the more worry. The more wives, the more witchcraft. The more maidservants, the more lewdness. The more man-servants, the more theft. The more Torah, the more life. The more yeshiva [studying torah with others], the more wisdom. The more advice, the more understanding. The more charity, the more peace. One who acquires a good name acquires it for himself. One who acquires words of Torah has acquired for himself life in the World to Come. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, מַרְבֶּה בָשָׂר, מַרְבֶּה רִמָּה. מַרְבֶּה נְכָסִים, מַרְבֶּה דְאָגָה. מַרְבֶּה נָשִׁים, מַרְבֶּה כְשָׁפִים. מַרְבֶּה שְׁפָחוֹת, מַרְבֶּה זִמָּה. מַרְבֶּה עֲבָדִים, מַרְבֶּה גָזֵל. מַרְבֶּה תוֹרָה, מַרְבֶּה חַיִּים. מַרְבֶּה יְשִׁיבָה, מַרְבֶּה חָכְמָה. מַרְבֶּה עֵצָה, מַרְבֶּה תְבוּנָה. מַרְבֶּה צְדָקָה, מַרְבֶּה שָׁלוֹם. קָנָה שֵׁם טוֹב, קָנָה לְעַצְמוֹ. קָנָה לוֹ דִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, קָנָה לוֹ חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

Bartenura - "the more flesh, the more worms" - one who eats and drinks excessively until he becomes fat and thick, he will increase worms in the grave, and "The worm is as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living" (Berachot 18b). This Tanna is teaching us that all excesses are bad for man except for abundance in torah, wisdom, and tzedaka.
Tosfot Yom Tov - the soul sees the disgust (rotting) of the body and is greatly pained by this.. as Iyov said: "But his flesh causes him pain, and his soul mourns for him" (Job 14:21).
Binyan Avot (by Kabbalist Tzemach haKohen, Jerba) - "more flesh more worms" - Rabeinu Yosef Karo writes in his Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 231): "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven, even eating, drinking, etc. to serve your Creator.. as written 'know Him in all your ways'.."
Thus, if his intent in eating is only to increase flesh. Then, there is no benefit from this. He merely increases worms. For he did not have intent to serve his Creator.. Therefore, the Tana was careful and did not say "more eating", to hint that the sin is only on the intent to increase flesh.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "more flesh.." - this was said also regarding one's health. If one answers the demands of the body, he brings evil on himself. For the body demands to eat much and labor little, to increase tranquility and indulgences of the masses (like a child). But really all these things are nothing but the rotting of the body.

this is what the Tanna says: if you increase to answer the calls of the flesh, to the physicality of your body, you will increase only evil on the body itself - worms. For it will pull you nearer to the grave.

As known, lust (taava) is the greatest arch-enemy of man. And the more a man is immersed in this, the more he brings his end nearer. Thus, the Tanna says: "more flesh", namely, the lusts of the flesh. For through your increasing lust, you are "increasing worms", namely, you draw your end of worms nearer.

The general principle in physicality: that which a person thinks is good and beneficial, the truth of the matter is that it harms him and causes him evil. A man thinks that if he increases to eat meat, it will benefit his health and strengthen his body. But it is the opposite - the eating brings illnesses and draws his end nearer.

Similarly, a man thinks that if he increases money and possessions, he will be happy. Therefore, he puts all his strength towards attaining them. But the end of the matter is that his possessions disturb him. For "more possessions, more worry", since many people gaze intently at his wealth. Furthermore, most of the time, wealth corrupts a person. And even if it does not harm him, it will harm his children. They will become corrupt due to too much good. On this it is said: "the trial of wealth is bigger than the trial of poverty".

All this is regarding physical matters. But in spiritual matters, the opposite is correct - the more one increases spiritual possessions, the more he increases happiness and contentment. On this he said: "more torah more life". Namely, spiritual life which is the real life.
Bartenura - "the more possessions, the more worry" - lest people will steal from him or perhaps bandits will come to kill him..
Binyan Avot (by Kabbalist Tzemach haKohen, Jerba) - "more possessions more worry" - as written: "whoever loves silver will not be sated with silver" (Kohelet 5:9). For no man dies fulfilling half his lusts. He who has 100 longs for 200. There is no end to this. This is why money is called "kessef" (in hebrew). For one who has kessef is nikessaf (longs) and lusts to increase. Thus marbe nechasim, his belly will never be satiated. On the contrary, marbe daga to increase more money.
Amud HaAvodah, derosh hasameach b'chelko - our sages said: "no man dies with half of his lust in hand. He who has 100 lusts for 200. If he attained 200, he lusts for 400..." (Midrash Kohelet Raba 1:32). Thus, one who has much wealth is more poor than one who has little. For one who has 100 lacks only another 100. While one who has 200 lacks 200. This is what our sages said: "more possessions more worries". For the rich man worries on lack of money more than the poor man...
Chachmat Hamatzfun, Kedoshim - only the poor man can live tranquilly. For if a man acquires the slightest possession, then immediately, a worry is attached along with it. A man loses his tranquility and becomes a slave to guarding his money. He becomes completely immersed in worry and lack of trust. So too for other worldly matters such as extra wives, etc. Any extra acquisition causes sufferings to body or soul..
(Translator: and even if he just has money in the bank, he worries and thinks on investing it. For he cannot bear to see his money sitting idly in the bank.)
Bartenura - "the more wives, the more witchcraft" - first a man adorns himself by extra flesh through excess food and drink. Afterwards, he seeks to increase possessions. After that, he sees that he can support many women and takes in many wives. Then each one needs a maidservant and he needs slaves to work fields and vineyards to support all their needs.. Thus they are taught in this order.
Mili d'Avot - "more wives, the more witchcraft" - through the witchcraft they will entice him to do their will even if it is evil, similar to what was said on Shlomo: "his wives turned away his heart after other gods.." (Melachim I 11:4). Alternatively, the women themselves are the "witchcraft", namely, they will entice him through their make up and jewellery so he will do what they want.
Ketuvot 59b (mishna) - "Rebbi Eliezer said: 'even if she brought him a hundred mainservants, he (the husband) may force her to work in wool, for idleness leads to lewdness (zima)'".
Thus, "The more maidservants, the more lewdness" can also refer to one's own wife. For idleness leads to lewdness.
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "more slaves more theft" - for when there are many slaves, they will find an argument to steal and conceal their theft under the shadow of many slaves, saying "I am not the one who stole. Our master has many slaves". Alternatively, they will conspire together to steal outside.
Tiferet Yisrael - there are five lusts that awaken in a man one after the other from his childhood. First, immediately after birth, he lusts only for food and drink. Afterwards (as a child), he lusts also for money. Afterwards (at puberty) his sense of touch will awaken for relations with women or the like. Afterwards, he comes among society and wants others to honor him. Afterwards, when he begins to become old, he seeks people to serve and help him. In all of these things, if he chases after them, he will attain their opposite...

The Tanna then counted five different things which a person thinks are bad for a man but in truth, they lead to great good... Although they require great toil to acquire until his body weakens, but nevertheless, his life force strengthens through them. For G-d granted them to strengthen body and soul, unlike the first five which destroy a person's body..
Ben Ish Chai - Birkat Avot - come and see how repulsive are matters of this world. They are vanity and useless. Excess in them is evil and bitter. For the primary lusts of man are three:

One, lust for eating, drinking, and other enjoyments in order to be fat and healthy.

Two, lust for money. Namely, that he loves to amass much money, "he who loves money will not be satisfied with money".

Three, lust for relations.

These are the three primary lusts of man in this world.

Excessiveness in any of them is evil and bitter. You can see that the lust for eating, whereby one increases flesh, brings evil to oneself. Likewise, the lust for money is also an evil sickness. For through this he increases worry on himself. He comes to always worry about thieves, plunderers, storms in the sea, mishaps, and other potential losses. Thus, he will find that he does not have one hour of tranquility and peace for himself, not one hour without worry and distractions.

Regarding the lust for relations, he is thus forced to have many wives. Through this he increases witcheries. For women tend to be jealous of each other and each one wants her husband to love her only and hate the other [wife]. Thus, perforce each wife goes to a witch to do witchcraft on her husband so that he loves only her and hates the other wife. This is "more wives more witchcraft".

Now if this man who increased wives tries to be clever, he gives a maidservant to each wife and appoints the maidservant to watch over the wife and report to him on her whereabouts so his wife will not go to the witches.

But now, on the contrary, the matter has become more evil and more bitter. For "more maidservants more lewdness". Most maidservants are very promiscuous and perforce they sin and will lead his wives to do the same and each maidservant will be an enticer to her mistress. For after the maidservant sins, she will want to make her mistress stumble also. This is: "more maidservants more lewdness". For now his wives will also eventually sin under him.

If he tries to be clever and remedy this by buying slaves and marrying them to the maidservants so that the slaves will guard the maidservants from sinning and so that the maidservants will not need to look elsewhere for relations, this too is evil and bitter. For "more slaves more theft". Now the slaves will steal his money and the money of others. For most slaves are thieves.

Thus, whatever strategy he employs to save himself from excessive things of this world is evil and bitter and there is no remedy to save oneself.

But it is not so for matters of the next world. On the contrary increasing in them is good and proper. For "more torah, more life..."

Hence, the diference between matters of this world and matters of the next world is that for matters of this world the more one increases of them, the more he loses. While, for matters of the next world, the more he increases the more he gains...
Yavetz - the Holy One, blessed be He, made it so that excessiveness in these areas leads to loss. For these things are not themselves the goal [in life]. Rather, they are merely preparations to the goal (of perfecting the soul). For if one did not incur loss in them, people would chase after these preparation until every person would swallow his fellow alive and thus the true purpose [of life] would automatically become null and void.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "more advice more understanding" - a man should not tell himself that he is the wisest of all men and does not need the advice of others. For even if it were true that he is very wise, but nevertheless, he should increase to take counsel with others. For a man is a relative (biased) to himself and bribed by this closeness. Thus taking counsel with others who are not bribed like him will stand him up on the correct and wise path. Therefore, the more you take counsel, the more you will increase understanding for yourself so that a mishap will not come out from your hands.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "more tzedaka more shalom" - it is human nature that when one finds himself in difficulty and his livelihood does not come easily and he is hungry for bread, a spirit of jealousy and hatred enters his heart towards those whose livelihood comes abundantly and honorably. Thus, one supports people who are in difficulties of the day and don't find their bread, he takes away the spirit of hatred which churns within them and replaces it with a spirit of love, shalom, and friendship.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "more tzedaka more shalom" - whoever gives tzedaka increases peace between the poor man and G-d. For due to his difficult situation, the poor man complains and moans that he too is a creature of G-d. Why then was it decreed on him to live in hardship and lacking everything while his fellow indulges in everything? And in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 34:16):
"the poor man sits and complains: 'why am I different than Ploni? He sleeps on his bed and I have to sleep here (on the street)'.

If you raise him up and give to him, by your life, I (G-d) will consider it as if you made peace between Me and him.."
We learn from here that if one gives Tzedaka to a poor man and consoles him, he brings peace between the poor man and G-d... Due to this, measure for measure, the Holy One, blesed be He, increases shalom on him..
Binyan Avot (by Kabbalist Tzemach haKohen, Jerba) - "more tzedaka more shalom" - he increases shalom between the poor man and his wife, as the talmud says: "when barley is finished from the barrel, quarrels come" (Bava Metzia 59a).

Alternatively, he increases shalom in the world, similar to "If you oppress him, [beware,] for if he cries out to Me, I will surely hear his cry" (Shmot 22:22).

And in the time of the Arizal, it is reported that one time he was sitting with his disciples in the field where the prophet Hoshea ben Be'eri was buried. He was expounding to them secrets of the torah (kabala).

Suddenly he stopped in the middle of his words and said: "quickly gather some tzedaka amongst yourselves and send it to a poor man who sits near us in such and such a place. His name is Yaakov Alterotz. He is now sitting and crying and complaining to G-d on his poverty. His voice is ascending above and breaking through all the firmaments. It has entered the innermost chambers and the Holy One, blessed be is full of wrath on the whole city for not having pity on him.

Now I hear the announcer proclaiming in all the firmaments a heavenly decree of a thick swarm of locusts to devour all the crops around the city of Tzfat, etc. Therefore, quickly run and send him tzedaka.. when they entered his home they found him crying and moaning. after delivering the money they saw a huge cloud of locusts in the sky moving towards them. Suddenly a powerful wind swept the cloud towards the sea.. thus the decree was annulled.

You can see from a great story like this that "more tzedaka more Shalom" to the entire city.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "one who acquires a good name acquires it for himself" - how does one receive a good name? By doing kindness to everyone. By toiling and laboring on his character traits until he attains good traits which dignify him in the eyes of others. Through this he merits to have a good name in the mouth of others.

The Tanna tells us that such a man reached the virtue of a "good name", i.e. wholeness in virtues and character traits. It is as if he acquired himself for himself. For his essence improves more and more until he is all kindness and good traits and finds favor in the eyes of G-d and man.
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai - Ahava b'Taanugim - some explain that the Tanna is coming to distance a man from the bodily pleasures and lusts (taanugim v'taavot) which one's inclination naturally desires and to bring a man closer to the perfections, namely, the pleasures of the understanding soul (nefesh hamaskelet).

The physical pleasures are four: one, food and drink. Two, amassing money. Three, marital pleasures. Four, honor and arrogance.

Corresponding to the lust for food, he said: "more flesh...". For through enjoying and increasing eating, he increases flesh and fattens his body. On this he said: "more worms". For this serves only to harm him. Namely, after his death, there will be alot of worms, and "The worm is as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living" (Berachot 18b).

For according to truth (kabala), one must believe that not all parts of the soul leave the body after death. Rather, there remains always a small part of the soul called in the Zohar (Shela pg.170 "hevel d'garmi".. Through this small part that remains in the body, he feels the pain of the worm.

And it is as if now while he is eating, he is increasing worms. For whatever is destined for something, it is as if it is being done already (kol haomed l'asot, k'asui dami - Shavuot 43a).

Corresponding to the second, amassing money, he said: "more possessions more worry". For the joy in wealth is only one thousandth of the worries that come out of this. It is not necessary to elaborate that there is much worry on losing it and much labor in amassing it..

Corresponding to the third, marital pleasures, he said: "more wives more witchcraft". For each one is jealous of the other (Megilah 13a), and does witcheries so he will love her, such that he will not enjoy any of them. For each one strives to take him out of the world (not to mention the loss of strength and dulling of the mind this causes).

Corresponding to the fourth, love of honor, to have many servants to increase his honor, he said: "more slaves more theft". Some explain they steal from him, while others explain he needs to steal to support them..

Thus all the types of bodily pleasures do not lead to good and it is proper to distance from them.

"more torah.. - now he comes to speak on the pleasures of the soul and the perfection they bring so that one will cling to them. He mentioned four good things corresponding to the four things mentioned previously.

Corresponding to "more flesh more worms", he said it is better for a man to "increase torah", which weakens man's strength and flesh. For through this, he will increase life, since "it is a tree of life.." (Mishlei 3:18). This is the opposite of the worm which destroys the body.

Corresponding to "more possessions more worry..", he said "more yeshiva..", and he will increase wisdom which will bring him joy, the opposite of worry.

Corresponding to "more wives" who do witcheries on him and dull his mind leaving him without intellect and understanding, he said "more counsel more understanding", ie not only will his mind not become dull, but on the contrary, he will increase understanding. For "give to the wise man and he will become wiser" (Mishlei 9:9).

Corresponding to one who chases after honor to increase slaves and maidservants, he said it is better to give tzedaka to the poor of the Jewish people, and that they be among his household (Avot 1:5). For through this, he increases tzedaka and shalom between G-d and the poor (see Midrash Rabba, end of Behar), so they don't complain to G-d for not having sustenance.
Meiri - he came to rouse a person that it is proper for his intent in life to be only in torah, middot (good traits), and mitzvot. But for other things, it is not proper to strive in them more than necessary. For whoever increases in them beyond what is necessary, not only was it for nothing, but he also brings evil on himself..

As known, people have diverse intents [in life]. For some, all their intent is on bodily pleasures. Namely, eating and drinking so their neck will be thick and their body fat, desiring women and other bodily pleasures.

For some, all their intent is to amass money. Such a person will labor to increase wealth to fill up his treasuries with gold and silver.

For some, their intent is to become famous among the masses, with many servants and maidservants and great works until they are well known and their name is famous in the land.

For others, the spirit of G-d has touched their heart.. a spirit of wisdom and understanding has roused them and all their intent is to wholeness (Shlemut) in torah, mitzvot, and middot (good traits). For their intent in the land of the living is only on perfection (Shelemut) of the soul.

Corresponding to the first group who increases flesh, he said that he is increasing to hurt himself. For he increases worms and his conduct is a cause for many illnesses. Likewise, to this group "more wives more witchcraft". For when each one is jealous of the other, each will harass him and remove him as much as she can from loving the other. Most of the time, he will be damaged by this.

Corresponding to the second intent to increase possessions he said that this too causes harm to himself. For he increases worry of loss to his possessions and that others will see his wealth and try to topple him with cunning traps. Thus, his wealth is "guarded for his harm".

Corresponding to the third intent, he said: "more slaves more theft". That is to say, they will steal his money and likewise "more maidservants more lewdness". They too will spend his money with their lewd partners (noafim).

Thus, all these intents ruin his home and increased success in these areas only cause more damage and loss...

But "more torah more life", i.e. eternal life, in grasping some of the glory of his Creator...
Nachalt Avot (Abarbanel) - in this teaching of Hillel, the mishna again proves the view of Rebbi regarding "what is the proper way a person should choose" (Avot 2:1)..

Hillel conducts an all-encompassing investigation on all the prevailing lifestyles led by people in order to find which path leads to happiness and success. He brought here four views.

The first view is of those who live a life of physical enjoyment. Namely, to eat, drink, indulge the body and try to live as long as possible. The masses believe this is the purpose of man and it is his portion for all his toil...

He immediately annulled this view saying: "the more flesh, the more worms", i.e. the proponents of this view think that in pampering their body, they will extend their days. But it is not so. For in "more flesh", by indulging in food and drink, death will come more swiftly on him and his end will draw nearer due to much flesh until he will become food for the worms...

The second view is of those people who pursue a life of enjoyment and fun in women and pleasures of people. To conquer young women and bring in all the women they choose.. Their intent in this is to arouse love and to have many children.

He said on this that it is a futile work. For "the more wives, the more witchcraft". And instead of choosing women who will be "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen.2:23) that will give birth to children "in his form and likeness", they will confound him and drive him crazy with all their witcheries.. and the matter will turn out the opposite of his intent.

Due to this, the torah prohibited on incest and even for one's permitted wife, the torah prohibited her at certain times (Nidah) and even during permitted times, our sages commanded not to talk excessively with one's wife (Avot 1:5) lest he come to hirhur (arousal)..

The third view prevalent among the masses is that the ultimate success of man is to amass and secure great wealth. For through this he will live securely and will not lack anything of his needs nor need the gifts of others. Hillel said this too is vanity and his intent will not succeed for "the more possessions, the more worry".

Because worry comes when a man fears that some future trouble may occur.. Thus those who lust for wealth hoped to cure one worry of lacking sustenance and pain of poverty, but they caused themselves many new worries in amassing wealth. For now they fear the matter will not be completed and they will not amassed as they desired, and as written: "[The sleep of the laborer is sweet, whether he eat little or much], but the satiety of the rich does not allow him to sleep" (Kohelet 5:11)...

The fourth view which is the most prevalent in the eyes of the masses is that honor is the highest purpose of everything.. And the main honor is in having others serve him and minister unto him, so that servants run before him and follow him to do his work such that he does not need to touch anything. Likewise, for maidservants to serve his wife and daughters, and as the philosopher said: 'he who does not have a slave is a slave'.

Hillel said that this too is vanity and vexation of spirit. For instead of the honor and benefit he thinks he will get from the servants and maidservants, he will perforce receive constant disgrace and dishonor. For "the more maidservants, the more lewdness". And this will drag in also the woman of his own household to do likewise, namely, his wife and daughters for great shame and humiliation. Likewise, "the more man-servants, the more theft". For they will steal all over the city and his name will become a curse to the people for having brought in worthless people to steal from the public, thus receiving disgrace instead of honor...

But in a life of the divine torah and its study, he will find the opposite of all these things. For in physical pleasures of food and drink, excess brings death and accelerating his end. But in the torah it is the opposite: "the more Torah, the more life", i.e. spiritual life of the soul. For torah is the food of the soul, imbuing it with life...

Corresponding to the second view of love of women which leads to confoundment, madness, and witcheries, he said it will be the opposite in the matter of torah. For "the more yeshiva, the more wisdom". That is to say he who increases in the Beit Midrash (house of study) will not become confounded and mad. Rather, he will increase wisdom..

Corresponding to the third group who he said "the more possessions, the more worry", he said it will not be so in the matter of torah. For when a person increases counsel, namely, the "business" (give and take) in torah study, he will not acquire worry but instead will increase understanding in his soul. For "man's wisdom lights up his face" (Kohelet 8:2).

Corresponding to the fourth view which he said: "the more maidservants, the more lewdness. The more man-servants, the more theft", whereby his home will be full of disputes and troubles, he said it will not be so in the matter of torah and mitzvot. For in his increasing charity to the poor and all the other acts of kindness - "The more charity, the more Shalom"..

It has been clarified through this that without the divine torah and its commandments all matters of this world are vanity and falsehood...

Afterward, he brought four immense benefits which result from torah and its study that do not come from the other four imaginary goals.

One, "who acquires a good name", i.e. for in pursuing food, drink, lust for women, seeking wealth and honor, he will often attain a bad name such as being called a: "glutton and drunkard" (Devarim 21:20), "adulterer", "senseless" (Mishlei 6:32), "greedy crook", "haughty and arrogant", "evil way".

But in torah and its wisdom, and in acts of charity and commandments, a person can acquire only a good name..

Two, all the imaginary goals he mentioned are all things external to himself and his soul. The honor of slaves, wealth, women, and extra flesh are not the essence of man. For in truth his essence is his form and soul. But in acquiring torah and performing mitzvot, he will acquire intrinsic perfection in his soul which will never leave him.

On this he said "acquires for himself".. Likewise, all the physical possessions of a man will be left to others after his death.. But what he acquired in torah and mitzvot "acquires for himself". For they remain by him and go with him after death, as the prophet said: "your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of G-d shall gather you in" (Isaiah 58:8)..

Three, the other things are not connected to torah. They are contrary and alien to it. But yeshiva, counsel, wisdom, and tzedaka are all branches of torah. Thus, in acquiring them, "who acquires words of Torah". And it is known that the purpose of man and his ultimate good depends on fulfilling and guarding the torah, as written: "you shall not turn right or left from all of the words I am commanding you this day" (Devarim 28:14).

Four, the imaginary material things mentioned all acquire enjoyments of this world only. They do not acquire for him "life in the World to Come". But for torah and mitzvot, one who does them acquires through them "life in the World to Come" which is real life which does not have death nor any loss, as Moshe peace be unto him said: "life and death I have set before you, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life" (Devarim 30:15).

Behold in this third teaching in which Hillel praises the torah and denigrates other material things, the view of Rebbi is further supported that a man should not choose a "straight path" for himself. Rather, that "his desire be only in the Torah of G-d, and in His Torah he meditates day and night" (Tehilim 1:2)
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - "more torah more life" - for the torah vivifies a person. And as we learned later: "Great is Torah, for it gives life to its observers in this world, and in the World To Come, etc" (Avot 6:8). Therefore, it is called "Torat Chaim" (the torah of life). For with it is life and without it is death.

This is as we find: "Rabbi Tarfon said to him:'Akiva, whoever separates from you is as one who separates from life" (Kidushin 66b).

This was not said as some sort of metaphor, but rather literally: "as one who separates from life".

We should know that the receiving of the torah depends on this fundamental point. Namely, if a man realizes that the torah is life and otherwise it is death, then he is assurred that he will surely not separate from the torah.

This is called the true "receiving of the torah" (kabalat hatorah). And this is the explanation of what our sages said: "if you accept the torah, good, if not there shall be your burial" (Shab.88a).

This was not just some side explanation (although they already said on their own volition: 'we will do and we will listen') Rather, the Holy One, blessed be He, said that this realization is required in order to receive the torah. Namely, that they must know and understand that if you accept the torah, good, i.e. through the torah, you will live forever. But if not, "there shall be your burial", namely, if you don't accept the torah, death will coil around your heels.

For life is torah and without it is death. One who does not feel in himself this realization, should suspect himself that perhaps, ch'v, he is among those whose ancestors did not stand at mount Sinai, the true receivers of the torah who, in their lofty level, recognized that life is intertwined with torah.
Chasdei David - "One who acquires a good name acquires it for himself" - this needs explanation. What is this doing here? And what is the meaning of a good name?

It seems to me to explain as follows. We find deep matters in giving of names as the talmud says (Yomah 38b):

"what is the meaning of the verse: '[The mention of a righteous man is for a blessing], but the name of the wicked shall rot]' (Mishlei 10:7)? Rebbi Eliezer says: 'their names will rot for no one will want to mention their names (a man will not name his son with the name of a wicked person)".

Thus the name rots away and is forgotten, like a metal object which rusts away and no one uses. The talmud asks there: "but what about Doeg ben Yosef? Every day his mother would weigh him and donate his weight in gold to the temple. (this child was named after Doeg in Shmuel I who was a wicked man). Thus we do call babies by the name of the wicked? [Talmud answers] see what happened to him in the end (during the siege of Jerusalem he was slaughtered and eaten by his mother)."

This implies that which he was eaten by his mother was due to his being named after a wicked man...

We thus see that the name of a person has a deep root. And in the book "Ahavat Shalom" (by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kasov, parsha Vayera), he writes:

"the primary life of a person is the holy neshama (soul). And it is the name of a person. Thus, when one calls a sleeping person by his name, one can quickly wake him up. For by calling his name which is his soul, one awakens his life force from the place of his root until the life force descends from level to level and reaches the person." end quote.

With this we will understand the matter: "One who acquires a good name acquires it for himself". For this includes all the five things together. And just like if one is increasing torah or increasing tzedaka, or the like, he acquires for himself, namely, perfection (shelemut) in his soul, so too for his name. If he acquired a good name, he acquires for himself.

And our sages said (Yomah 38b): " 'The memory of the righteous shall be for a blessing' - where, in the Torah, may that teaching be derived? - From what is written: 'Shall I hide from Abraham that which I am doing?' since He mentioned Avraham's name, He immediately blessed him: 'Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation'".

Thus, an acquisition of a good name is an acquisition for himself. For it will cause him endless blessings. See also the commentaries on the verse "The mention of a righteous man is for a blessing" (Mishlei 10:7). For every time his name is mentioned, he will be blessed.
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - (kabalistic) - the orot of mochin of keter are called "chayei olam haba", and a man merits this light through the study of sod. This is what he said: "kana lo divrei torah", divrei implies two, namely, the chelek nigle and chelek nistar. Through this he acquires "chayei olam haba", namely, that he can draw down lights from the Keter which are called by the name "chayei olam haba".
Ben Ish Chai - Birkat Avot - "more torah, more life" - it is known that the amount of speech allotted to a man is fixed (for his lifetime, since part of his soul goes out with each word) And if he speaks much devarim betalim (idle talk) it is possible that he will die quickly. For he will have no more speech left. But, as known the speech of a man in torah is not included in this fixed amount. Thus if a man is marbe torah, then automatically he does not speak devarim betalim. For he will not have time for this. Then, automatically he will have much speech left from the amount fixed for him. Thus, perforce he will live longer in order to complete the amount of speech allotted to him and will not die until he completes the amount.

This is "more torah, more life". For through the large amount of toil in torah, he will not have time to speak idle talk. Thus he needs much time to live until he completes his allotted amount of speech and this is the best thing for his body, as we learned earlier: "All my days I have grown up among the Sages and I have not found anything as good for the body as silence"(Avot 1:17).
Ben Ish Chai - Birkat Avot - "marbeh torah marbeh chaim" - (kabalistic) - letters of chaim are Chai- Yam, a remez (hint) to Yesod and Malchut. For it is known that Yesod is called Chai and Malchut is called Yam (the sea). And through much toil in torah, one unifies (meyached) Yesod and Malchut thereby drawing to them abundant Shefa (divine flow) elevating them to a great state (gadlut meod). This is: "marbe chaim".
Ben Ish Chai - Binyan Avot - He returned and said: "kane lo divrei torah", to hint on what he said just before this, "kana shem tov", to say that only if he acquired a good name did he acquire what was said earlier. Namely, he who acquired a good name, acquires for himself chayei olam haba. But if he acquires divrei torah but is not a baal shem tov, then if he acquired life (torah) in this world, he did not acquire chayei olam haba, in the way that king David said on Doeg and Achitofel: "may they be erased from the book of life.." (Tehilim 59:29).
Maharal - it is proper to ask why he chose specifically these things? There are many things which we can say that if one increases [excessively] in them, they are damaging to a person.

(for example: "whoever increases speech brings sin" - Avot 1:17. Or "whoever increases laughter, idle speech and levity bring divine wrath to the world" - Tana d'Bei Eliyahu Rabba 10:3)

Likewise, there are many other things that if one increases in them, he acquires good levels..

The explanation of this is as follows. Man is comprised of body and soul. The body is from the earth while the soul is from the Heaven (spiritual realm). From the earth to the Heaven is considered ten [units].

Our sages brought this concept in the talmud:
"The divine presence never descended below ten handsbreaths and neither Moshe nor Eliyahu ever ascended above ten handsbreaths, as written (Tehilim 115:16): '" (Sukkah 5a).

Thus, from the land to the Heaven (spiritual realm) is considered 10. Correspondingly, man who was created from both earth and Heaven has 10 different matters. Five of them are close to the land and five are close to the Heaven.

The five close to the land are all physical things, pertaining to the body which is from the earth, while those close to the Heaven pertain to the spiritual soul.

Corresponding to this, man has five spiritual organs close to the soul: two eyes, two ears, and the tongue. Likewise, five close to the body: two legs, two arms and the head of the male organ. These ten are in the body.

It is known that the eyes which have the power of sight, the ears which have the power of hearing, and the tongue which has the power of speech - are close to the soul. While the other five limbs are close to the body which comes from the ground.

And in the talmud (Nedarim 32b):

" 'Wisdom affords strength to the wise more than ten rulers who were in the city' (Kohelet 7:19) - this refers to the two eyes, two ears, two legs, two hands, the male organ and the mouth". end quote.

Thus, there are ten organs/limbs in man. Five close to the soul and five close to the body.

The two ears, two eyes, and mouth are considered spiritual for an organ which does its work without touching what it senses is considered spiritual.

For example, the ears hear from far, the eyes see further still. Likewise for the power of speech which is intellectual (sichli). Thus, five are spiritual and five are physical.

Therefore G-d gave man 10 commandments. Five of them are close to Hash-em, namely, they pertain to Hash-em who is in Heaven (Kohelet 5:1). For "honor your father and mother" also pertains to Hash-em, as the talmud says: "the torah equated their honor to the honor of G-d" (Kidushin 30b).

And likewise they said there: "when a man honors his father and his mother, the Holy One, blessed be He, says: "I ascribe [merit] to them as though I had dwelt among them and they had honored Me" (Kidushin 30b).

The second set of five speak of matters betwen man and his fellow who is on the earth (Kohelet 5:1).

Thus, man whose soul is from the Heaven and his body is from the earth is considered 10. For 10 is always considered a separate domain (reshut acher). Therefore, five pertain to above and five to below. Therefore man was given 10 commandments, five close to the Heaven and five close to the earth.

This is what the mishna says, this man has five possessions from the earth, namely, physical possessions from the ground, and five spiritual possessions which pertain to the soul.

He said that for those five which pertain to the body, [excessive] increase in them leads to loss and detriment. For increasing in them beyond the [needed] measure is undoubtedly a loss.

But for the five which are not bodily, they are for the soul and the more one increases in them the higher level [he attains].

This is what he said: "more flesh, more worms".

For the explanation of "flesh" is man's body itself. Thus one who increases flesh which is the body itself, increases worms. The explanation of "worms" is inexistence (he'edar). For the worm eats flesh until it is no longer found. That is to say, inexistence clings to the physicality of man, as we explained many times.

Therefore, one who increases flesh increases worms, namely, inexistence. The intent here is not only on increase in flesh. Nor is it on worms. Rather, when a man is drawn after the matter of the physicality of the body, this increase is nothing but an increase in inexistence which is the [symbolism of the] worm, as we will explain with G-d's help on: "lust takes a person out of the world" (Avot 4:22).

He first mentioned the physicality of man, namely, his body. Afterwards, he said: "more possessions more worry".

For the first thing close to man from the aspect of his body is his possessions. They are his acquisitions and are completely his. He needs them in order to obtain his livelihood before marrying a woman.

He said: "more possessions more worry". For it too is a detriment. For a man needs to occupy himself in maintaining them so they do not incur loss. Thus increase in them inevitably leads to detriment, namely, much worry.

All this is because the things pertaining to the body do not escape from loss and increasing in them inevitably leads to even more loss.

After speaking of man's possessions which pertain to him [earlier in life], he said: "more wives more witchcraft". For the order of [marrying] a woman is after acquiring possessions. Since a man needs a woman to rectify his house.

He said that if he is increasing in women, he increases witchcraft. And even if he marries Avigail and other very kosher women who will not do witchcraft, but nevertheless, she tends to the level of witchcraft, namely, a low level. For witchcraft is most prevalent among women due to the lowly level of witchcraft and the lowly level (women are more physical than men. see Maharal on Avot 1:5). This is also due to the need for the power of imagination in doing witchcraft which is more [strong] in women.

Thus, witchcraft only works when the witch stands with feet on the ground, as Rashi explained in Sanhedrin (44b). Thus, through increasing wives, a man comes closer to the level of witchcraft. And even if his wives do not do any witchcraft, nevertheless, he tends from a higher level to a lower level and to loss due to increasing wives. For the increasing in wives leads him to the lowly level of witchcraft.

After speaking of a wife, he spoke of the maidservant. For one needs a maidservant to take care of the needs of the house more than the manservant who works in the field.

He said that increasing maidservants increases lewdness. For the maidservants are daughters of Cham. Due to this, they are full of lewdness since they are drawn after their root. Hence, increase in them is a practise of lewdness (tarbut zima). And even if the maidservants are kosher, nevertheless by increasing in them, he is tending toward lewdness. And even if there is no actual act of lewdness here, but nevertheless he tends towards the trait of lewdness...

Afterwards, he mentioned five things pertaining to the soul whereby increasing in them leads to greater levels. This is not like the first five whereby increasing in them leads to increased loss....

The summary of this mishna is that for bodily things, increase and excess in them leads to loss. This is logical. For that which loss clings to, such as physical things, excess in them leads only to loss. But for spiritual things, increasing in them only advances one to a higher level. There is more depth here but it is not proper to elaborate further.