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 14
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 14פרק ב משנה יד
Rabbi Yehoshua says: "an evil eye, the evil inclination (yetzer harah), and hatred of people remove a person from the world." רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר, עַיִן הָרָע, וְיֵצֶר הָרָע, וְשִׂנְאַת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, מוֹצִיאִין אֶת הָאָדָם מִן הָעוֹלָם:

Bartenura - "evil eye" - he is not satisfied with what he has and seeks other things. Some explain he puts an ayin hara (evil eye) in the property of his fellow or his children and damages him.
Rambam - "an evil eye" - fervor (charitzut) for money.
Rabeinu Yonah - "evil eye" - ie one who is not satisfied with his portion and he "eyes" his fellow who is richer than him asking himself "when will I become rich like him"?.. This thought ruins his body. For his spirit will diminish and it takes him out of the world. This is the "evil eye" which Rabbi Yehoshua referred to. The proof to this explanation is that he wrote here "evil eye (ayin hara)" in masculine tense, namely, that he "eyes" with evil, whereas previously in mishna 9, he wrote "evil eye (ayin ra'ah)" (feminine tense) which we explained refers to stinginess..
Rambam - "the evil inclination (yetzer harah)" - great lust and evil of the soul.
Rashi - "hatred of people" - baseless hatred (sinat chinam).
Rambam - "hatred of people.." - the illness of marah shechora (melancholy/depression). This brings a person to be repulsed and hate what his eyes see (i.e. people around him). He will prefer the company of wild animals and solitude in deserts and wilderness. He will choose to live in an uninhabited area. Such people choose this [lifestyle] not as perishut (asceticism). But rather, due to the evil of their lust and jealousy of other people. Without a doubt, this kills a man. For his body will become ill and he will die before his time.
Bartenura - "hatred of people" - baseless hatred. The Rambam explains that he is repulsed by the company of others and loves to sit in solitude. I heard that it refers to a harsh man who brings on himself the hatred of others and causes that everyone hates him.
Tosfot Yom Tov - regarding what the Bartenura wrote that he brings on himself the hatred of others, the Midrash Shmuel writes that some explain that everyone curses him and the curse takes effect on him and he leaves this world, as our sages said: "let not the curse of a layman be light in your eyes.." (Megilah 15).
Chasdei David - "hatred of people" - the primary matter of baseless hatred (sinat chinam) I heard from Rabbi Yehuda Segal zt"l, the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva. He asked: "are we talking about a fool who hates his fellow for nothing? Certainly there is a reason he hates him, such as he hurt him or the like". He explained that since everything is from hashgacha elyona (Divine providence), even what one's fellow hurts him through his possessions, speech, or deed. Thus, from Heaven the punishment was directed to him through his fellow and his fellow was but a messenger on this. Thus why should you hate him for this? Hence the hatred is for nothing. The explanation of this is exceedingly deep...
Sforno - "evil eye" - on others and coveting their money.
"evil inclination" - lust for the [physical] pleasures (taavat hataanugim).
"hatred of people" - due to jealousy.
"remove a person from the world" - from every balanced and praiseworthy trait the Rav praised him for in saying "praiseworthy is she who gave birth to him!".
Tiferet Yisrael - he exhorts on the three duties of man - torah, avodah (divine service), and acts of kindness.

"evil eye" - his eye is evil and weak in matters of emunah (faith) which the torah taught. He contents himself with its words and in the roots of Judaim such as torah from Heaven, the afterlife, and other similar foundations of torah (i.e. he does not deepen [thought] in these matters).

"evil inclination (yetzer hara)" - his yetzer overpowers him and prevents him from serving G-d and fulfilling His commandments.

"hatred of people" - he hates others to not benefit them.

"remove a person from the world" - since he has nothing to base his success in this world and the next.
Binyan Avot (by Kabbalist Tzemach haKohen, Jerba) - Rabbi Yehoshua said earlier that the evil path to distance from is an evil friend. Now he brings three things which result out of the trait of evil friend.

One, the evil friend's eye is evil on his fellow and he inserts an ayin hara (evil eye) in his properties, sons, and all that is his in order to damage him. The cause of this ayin hara is diminishing and not being content with what one has. Therefore, when he sees something more than what he has by his fellow, he envies him and inserts an ayin hara in him. From this his yetzer intensifies within him to accumulate wealth or the like in order to rise above his fellow. And if he cannot obtain this in a permitted way, he will steal and rob. Through this he brings on himself the hatred of others. Thus three things which take a person out of the world, this world and the next. This world, for when he chases money so much and is never satisfied with what he has, he dies in worry...
Chida - Chasdei Avot - the masters of mussar wrote that it is written "brit" (covenant) on the eyes (brit ayin), "brit" on the skin (brit me'or, ie male organ), and "brit" on the tongue (brit lashon). One who damages them commits a grave sin. The siman for this is on the verse: "when a soul commits a sin (ki timol ma'al)" (Vayikra 5:3), ma'al is letters mem-ayin-lamed.

This is what he said: "ayin hara" (evil eye), that he blemishes his eyes and break the brit (covenant) of the eyes. From this he is drawn to the yetzer hara, to blemish the brit of the me'or (male organ), as written in Sotah 8b: "we have a tradition that the yetzer hara can rule only on what his eyes see. From this he is drawn to lashon hara (slander) or the like. For the brit of the tongue and the brit of the skin are aligned and depend on each other. Through this "he is removed from the world".
Sfas Emes on Avot - "evil eye, evil inclination, hatred.." - corresponding to jealousy, lust, and honor which also "remove a person from the world" - evil eye is jealousy, evil inclination is lust, and hatred of people is honor.
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - "evil eye" - in the Bartenura: "he puts an ayin hara (evil eye) in the property of his fellow or his children and damages him".

And in the Talmud: "Rav went up to a cemetery, performed certain (kabalistic) things, and then said: Ninety-nine [percent have died] through an evil eye, and one [percent] through natural causes" (Bava Metziah 107b).

The existence of ayin raah (evil eye) is an existence of poison, a substance which destroys and damages by a mere looking..

The existence of good is an existence of life, while the existence of evil is an existence of death. Besides this nothing else exists. If you wish to know what is this deadly poison of evil in man and just how far it goes, go and consider the dead bodies in the cemetary. Ninety percent of whom died due to ayin hara (evil eye).

It seems though that it is not the eye itself which kills. Rather, the eye is a channel (tzinor) which brings this evil poison within man to the thing being looked at. And the evil within man is the deadly poison.

For evil is the existence of death. And when man shines his eye on something, through this he connects and clings to the thing he is seeing. This is the secret of the matter of seeing of the eye.. Thus an evil man has the power to bring death to the world by the gaze of his eye. This is very awesome!..
Daat Chachma u'Mussar 3:136 - "remove a person from the world" - and likewise later on in chapter 3 mishna 10 and chapter 4 mishna 21 it uses this expression. We are used to thinking that this expression is coming to emphasize the reprehensibleness and severity of the thing. But it is not so. Just the opposite! It is to teach on matters which are not themselves sins so much, but nevertheless, they take a person out of the world. This is similar to "he went out of his world" (Vayikra 24:10, Rashi, regarding the blasphemer).

For the middot (character traits) and the lusts, first of all, they take a person out of the world, and he is already not in his world (while alive). This is the cause of all that is reprehensible and all sins. And even though a man does not sense this, but slowly, slowly, they take the person out from the world. It is incumbent on man to first and foremost to be in his world. From this comes out all of his success.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "evil eye" - he who has an evil eye on his fellow wil never see in him any trace of good. For his eye will not allow him to look without a personal taint of hatred on the fellow and his deeds.

More than this, even when the evil-eyed person sees him doing acts of kindness and righteousness all of his days, diligent in torah and service of G-d, fear of G-d appearing on him, nevertheless the evil-eyed person will not find that he is good. Rather, he will say that the fellow is not doing this l'Shem Shamayim (for G-d). But rather for obtaining honor or to bother people (lekanter) or to be haughty in his torah or the like.

Due to this the Tanna is so stringent (machmir) on evil eye (ayin ra'ah), because this person will not come to do good to someone else since he sees in every person a liar and a faker, and everything others do is for their own honor and glory.

Certainly such a person will not learn from people who do much kindness to all since he does not believe in them. Thus he takes himself out of the world.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "evil eye.. removes a person from the world" - it is like one who throws a stone at a wall. The wall does not absorb it and it bounces back and hits the thrower. So too for an evil eye. He whose eye is evil and he puts his eye to harm someone, if the other person is not deserving of damage due to some merit which shields him, the evil of the evil-eyed person goes back on him and damages him...

One who has an evil eye is vulnerable to the evil eye of others and they are liable to hurt him and take him out of the world. But for one who does not have an evil eye, then the evil eyes of others are not able to rule over him and harm him. On this our sages said:

"when one is particular (makpid), they are particular about him, while when one is not particular (makpid), they are not particular about him" (Pesachim 110b).

That is to say, since he himself is particular (makpid), then the hakpada (particularness) of others can hurt him. So too for evil eye (ayin hara). When he uses it on others, he opens the gate to himself to be vulnerable to the damaging eyes of others.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "hatred of people.. removes a person from the world" - hatred is the complete opposite of the continuance (kiyum) of the world. For we already learned that "the world stands on three things: torah, avodah, and acts of kindness" (Avot 1:2). And what is acts of kindness if not love of man? For one who loves bestows kindness on others. But for one who hates, not only is he unable to bestow kindness, but he also does evil to his fellow. Thus one who hates others acts against the continuance of the world and has no place in G-d's world. Due to this, the Tanna says that hatred of the public takes a person out of the world.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "removes a person from the world" - a man who wants the tzelem Elokim (image of G-d) to remain within him must toil with all his strength to uproot from himself these three evil traits. For if he does not work on himself diligently, without interuption, they are liable to take root within him and transform him into a man who is completely full of evil. They will rule over him and destroy him completely until he falls into the pit and remains without human form. This is as taking him out of the world.
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai - Ahava b'Taanugim - "evil eye" - ayin hara ie the eye of wickedness and sin in looking at reprehensible things - this is the first cause of sin which takes a person out of the world. Afterwards, the second agent of sin is the heart which desires. This is the yetzer hara (evil inclination), the heart of stone. Likewise for hatred of others, just like "love your fellow as yourself" (Vayika 9:18) is the fulfillment of the whole torah (Shab.31a), so too hatred of others is a cause for transgressing all the torah. Thus, each of these three remove a person from the world. For the end of the wicked is destruction.

Some explain this on what Rabbi Yehoshua said earlier, namely, the good path a person should choose is: "a good friend". On this he said that one who wants to be a good friend must be careful of these three things. For one who is stingy-eyed (tzar ayin) on his fellow will be drawn to have a yetzer hara. Namely, he desires and envies the property of his fellow. From this the yetzer hara will intensify within him until he hates him. Thus, first the eye sees, which is the first agent of sin. After the seeing, desire of the heart follows, which is the yetzer hara, as before. Afterwards, he is drawn to hate that person. Through this he loses the friendship. Thus he exhorted to guard from these three things if he wants to have a good friend, as before.
Rosh Avot - this corresponds to the mishna later: "jealousy, lust, and honor remove a person from the world" (Avot 4:21). Evil eye corresponds to jealousy. For he is jealous of his fellow and not content with what he has due to what his fellow has. Some explain "evil eye" to refer to putting an evil eye on his fellow's possessions or sons and hurting him. This too is due to jealousy.

Yetzer hara corresponds to lust, as the Rambam writes:"much lust".

"Hatred of people" corresponds to honor. For because he seeks honor and does not get it, he hates others and thus he is in anger and disputes and his life is not a life..

To what is the yetzer hara similar to? To a man who wanted to buy the house of his fellow. But his fellow refused to sell it. He pressed him daily and increased his offer from time to time. But his fellow refused adamently saying: "this house is an inheritance of mine from my fathers and my soul is bound to it. How then can I sell it to you?"

The man answered him: "if so, at least sell me the tiniest place there, a place to fix a nail, so that I will have a small inheritance at least".

The fellow who did not want to sell the house at all tried to brush him off by giving him a very high price. But to his amazement, the man agreed to this price.

They both sat and signed a contract between themselves. From then on, the buyer would come at odd times to the home of the fellow and leave. After a few hours, he would return to use that nail he hanged. The next time he came, he also brought his wife and sons and daughters and all that he had.

When the fellow would complain to him, he would wave the contract which he brought and say to him: "but I have a legitimate contract which was signed fully lawfully. Who are you to complain on me"?

The owner of the house saw that he had no escape. He had no choice but to sell him the house against his good and left disheartened.

Similar to this is the yetzer hara. When a man gives him a foothold to rule over him even a little bit, in the end he will come to rule over his body and soul, as our sages said: "for this is the way of the Yetzer ha'Ra - today it tells one to do a small transgression, and another one tomorrow, in the end it gets him to serve idolatry!, and he goes and serves [them]" (Shab.105b)..
Maharal - it is proper to examine why these three things take a person out of the world. For we cannot say that these things were said [merely] by [human] logic and estimation.

We already explained earlier (Avot 1:2) that the good in the created things grants them (worthiness to) existence and continuance. Without this, they would have no continuance at all. The proof of this is that which it is written "and G-d saw that it was good" (Genesis 1) when He created [the world], ie the created beings are worthy of continued existence due to the aspect of good in them...

But for something which is evil, inexistence clings to it due to the aspect of lacking and evil in it. Therefore, it will come to complete inexistence.

Thus, when the creation is good, it is worthy of existence. For it is removed from inexistence.

You should know that there are three things which scripture calls "evil".

One, the yetzer harah as written: "for man's inclination (yetzer) is evil from his youth" (Gen.8:21).

Two, an evil eye, which is called evil as written: "al-ayin" (Mishlei 23:6).
Three, likewise "evil" is used on the heart as written: "Do not partake of the bread of an evil eye [person]" (Yirmiyahu 3:17) and a few other places.

Thus, he said that when a man has an evil eye, [he means] that the evil very much clings to him. And likewise, evil inclination (yetzer hara), which is called "evil" due to the greatness of the evil in it.

And hatred of the public, which is only due to an evil heart, as written: "do not hate your brother in your heart" (Vayikra 19:17), and hatred is only in the heart.

He did not say more generally "an evil heart", as written earlier "an evil heart" (Avot 2:9). For "evil heart" applies even on one who merely refrains himself from giving tzedaka (charity) or the like. And on what he said "removes a person from the world", this is proper to say only on someone whose heart is so evil that he has reached hatred of the public. That is a completely evil heart.

For when G-d created His world, He wrote on each one "it was good". But these three things are evil, the opposite of the creation which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world.

Therefore, these three things remove a person from the world. For just like the good in the creations is the continuance of the world, so too, these three things take him out of the world..

And since Rabbi Eliezer exhorted previously on matters to bring a person to Life in the World to Come so that one will not be banished from the World to Come, Rabbi Yehoshua said this general principle so that a person will not be destroyed from this world.

Thus, the three things Rabbi Yehohua said are connected to each other and are one matter as is fitting.

(Maharal, Netiv Lev Tov ch.1 - that which comes out futher from this trait (of evil heart) is baseless hatred (sinat chinam). This is jealousy in the heart. For the evil heart has jealousy when his fellow has any good or level (maalah). This is the opposite of the good heart which rejoices when his fellow attains good. But this person is jealous of him and does not want that his fellow has this level (maalah). This trait is very evil..")