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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 15
with select commentaries

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

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

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Chapter 2 Mishna 15פרק ב משנה טו
Rabbi Yossi said: let the money of your fellow man be as precious to you as your own, prepare yourself to study torah for it is not an inheritance to you, and let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, יְהִי מָמוֹן חֲבֵרְךָ חָבִיב עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁלָּךְ, וְהַתְקֵן עַצְמְךָ לִלְמֹד תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאֵינָהּ יְרֻשָּׁה לָךְ. וְכָל מַעֲשֶׂיךָ יִהְיוּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמָיִם:

Mital Hashamayim - he who rejoices on the money of his fellow like his own is prepared and ready to learn torah. For worries of one's livelihood which prevents him from learning torah are only due to a man's chasing after more money. This in turn is due to being jealous of others who have much. Thus if he rejoices on what his fellow has, he does not chase to make more money than he needs, rather only what he needs. Thus automatically he has free time to learn torah.
Sforno - "let the money of your fellow man be as precious to you as your own" - the Rav praised him for the trait of Chasidut which is to do good to others. You will attain this trait in your hand when "the money of your fellow is as precious to you as your own", due to your love of what is good for him.
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "let the money of your fellow man be as precious to you as your own" - this mishna exhort to distance oneself from what was said previously. One who cherishes the money of his fellow does not hate the public. Likewise, one who rectifies himself to learn torah will not have an evil eye (be jealous). For the first condition in rectifying oneself to learn torah is histapkut (being content with what one has which is the opposite of jealousy)..
Bartenura - "prepare yourself to study torah for it is not an inheritance to you" - do not say "since my father is a chacham (torah scholar) and my grandfather is a chacham, "the torah returns to its host", and I don't need to seek after it.
Tiferet Yisrael - "prepare yourself to study torah" - strive (hizdarez) to rectify yourself from all detriments which prevent its study, whether worry of livelihood or due to physical weakness or little intellect or other pains. Think as if all these things are rectified when you sit to learn torah.
Tiferet Yisrael - "for it is not an inheritance to you" - to attain it without toil and without concentrating (yichud) all of your thoughts on it.
Sforno - "prepare yourself to study torah" - more than the preparation you have by nature. For "for it is not an inheritance to you", so that what happens to you [in torah] will not be like what happens to inheritors who acquire money without any exertion. For in this, little exertion is not enough. And only when you attain talmud torah, will you attain Chasidut. Without this, you will not attain it, as written: "an ignorant man cannot be pious" (Avot 2:6).
Ruach Chaim - "it is not an inheritance to you" - even though our sages said: "whoever is a talmid chacham and also his son and also his grandson, the torah returns to its innkeeper" (Bava Metzia 85a).

If so, you may say the torah will come after you and you don't need to prepare yourself for this. Therefore, the Tanna taught us that this is a mistake. For this is merely like a man who knows an innkeeper in the city and he usually goes to him to lodge by him. But this is provided the innkeeper also greets him and receives him with a pleasant face and prepares the lodging place. But if the innkeeper refrains from greeting him, the man will turn away and look for someone else who will receive him with a pleasant face. So too the torah returns to its innkeeper, but he needs to receive it and prepare himself for this. Otherwise the torah will not lodge by him..

Rabeinu Simcha was asked: "all Jews are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov who knew and fulfilled the torah. Since the torah returns to its innkeeper, why are there am haaretzim (ignorant Jews) in Israel?" He answered aong the lines of what we said.
Ben Ish Chai - Zechut Avot - "prepare yourself to study torah" - this hints to what the mussar masters and kabalists say. Namely, before learning one should take upon himself the positive mitzvah of teshuva so that the study be with purity..
Bartenura - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - even when you are eating and drinking, etc, do not have intent for bodily pleasure. Rather, that you be healthy to do the will of your Master.
Sforno - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - let your intent be to do the will of your Maker, to go in His ways. For "He is a chasid in all His deeds"(Tehilim 145:9).
Ben Ish Chai - Zechut Avot - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - I am exhorting you not only on torah study, but rather all your physical deeds such as work, eating and drinking, should be L'Shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven)..
Sfas Emes on Avot - Rabbi Yossi was a Chassid and these three things parallel what our sages said: "he who wants to be a chasid, let him fulfill the matters of [Pirkei] Avot. Some say nezikim (damages), som say berachot (blessings)".

Avot corresponds to "prepare yourself to study torah". Thus we study pirkei avot before Shavuot. For it is a preparation to talmud torah.

Matters of nezikim (damages) corresponding to "let the money of your fellow man"

Matters of berachot (blessings) - corresponding to "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven"...

"prepare yourself" - ie to be a vessel (kli) prepared to receive the words of torah. The preparation is the wholehearted annulment. Namely, to not want other than to know the will of G-d (in order) to do so, as our sages said: "the torah is compared to water which flows to low places", ie to he who has no personal bias through annulment to the will of G-d, blessed be He
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai - Ahava b'Taanugim - "prepare yourself to study torah" and through this "all your deeds will be for the sake of Heaven". For the torah study is an antidote to the yetzer hara (evil inclination). Thus all your deeds that you do after the study will certainly be l'Shem Shamayim.
Chida - Zeroah Yamin - as our sages said: "before a man prays that words of torah enter his body, let him pray that tasty things (ma'adanim) not enter his body". For as we explained the maadanim are from the Sitra Achra (side of evil). And if his body grew with the Sitra Achra, the words of torah are unable to enter. This is what he said: "prepare yourself", that your body be pure and not have a foothold by the Sitra Achra.

"to learn torah" - for when you are a kli (vessel) which can hold the Beracha from the Sitra d'Kedusha (side of holiness), afterwards you will learn torah and the words of torah will enter in your body.

"it is not an inheritance" - ie an inheritance comes regardless whether he is a tzadik (righteous) or rasha (wicked). Either way he inherits his father. But the torah is not like this. If he is a rasha (wicked man), he damages and the torah does not enter his body.
Chida - Kisei Rachamim - Alternatively, prepare yourself - to think thoughts of teshuva before the learning.

Alternatively, prepare yourself with proper clothing. To not be without head covering or half dressed or the like. For the torah is all Names of the Holy One, blessed be He. Thus he said prepare yourself with proper dress, and with fear, love, and joy.
Chida - Lev David ch.30 - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - your deeds specifically, such as eating, sleeping, dressing and other physical pleasures - let them all be l'Shem Shamayim. Namely to have intent to serve one's Creator. To eat in order to have strength to serve G-d. Likewise when he sleeps and other physical matters, he should truthfully put to heart and mind that he does everything to serve G-d. For though this his strength will not weaken (lo yutash kocho" and he will be able to be diligent in the service of G-d, as explained in the Shulchan Aruch siman 231.

If he does thus, then he did not benefit from this world and did not take a bribe from the Yetzer Hara. But if he had intent for physical pleasure, like the way of the land, all the pleasures are considered as if he took a bribe from the yetzer hara. And then the Yetzer will be able to blind his eyes and he will go from one evil to another. For a bribe blinds the wise, who then walk in darkness..
Chida - Kisei David, drosh 15 - (kabalistic - and in the holy Zohar:
"In every act a person does, let him request that it be for the Holy Name. What does this mean? To utter with one's mouth a Holy Name, that it is all for His service. Thus, the sitra achra (side of evil) will not rest on it.

For the sitra achra is always prepared before people and ready to rest on that deed, Due to this, it is written "you shall guard yourself from everything evil".
And in the book Reishit Chachma: even when doing a mitzva, there could be some ulterior motive (peniah). But when one says first that it is for His service, all the Chitzoni (outside evil forces) are removed so they don't spoil the mitzvah. And even for matters of this world, he should say "l'Shem Hash-em" so that the Sitra Achra will not rest on any one of his physical actions.

And in the Zohar Tazriah:
"Rabbi Yehuda opened 'Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness' Yirmiyahu 22:13). For every place where there is Tzedek (righteousness), all the ruchin v'mazikin (evil spirits and demons) flee. He who precedes to seize (a small place), seizes the (whole) place. If an impure spirit seizes a place, the holy spirit will not rest there. For it is not its place. But if a holy spirit seizes a space beforehand, all the ruchin v'mazikin (evil spirits and demons) are unable to take hold there.
Rabbi Moshe Alshich wrote in Chakirat HaRambam whether or not G-d's thought spreads out and affects the physical world. Perhaps no due to its great spirituality and sublimeness. But for G-d's speech, despite that it is vastly more spiritual than this physical world [it does affect the physical world]. This is what our sages said: "the righteous and the wicked did not say" (Yalkut Devarim 10).

According to this, even though "a good thought is mitztaref (considered) to an act", nevertheless, it is unable to create an angel. For "it is enough for a servant [to be limited like his Master]". Thus one needs to utter the thought verbally, to utter the holy Name, and then an angel is created who goes out and takes the place.

And even if he has some ulterior motive (peniah), ch"v, the angel does not allow the Sitra Achra to take hold. This is the meaning of "in all your ways [know Him]", whether for matters of holiness or for matters of this world, "know Him", to utter with one's mouth the holy Name, "and He will straighten your paths". These are the narrow paths as the Alshich wrote. Namely, the Sitra Achra which is always ready, etc. and the holy angel drives them out and siyata d'Shmaya rests there. (see there for more)
Daliot Yechezkel (R.Y.Sarna), chelek beit, Avot - "prepare yourself to study torah" - even though the ability to attain the loftiest level is implanted in man. For he was created for this. Nevertheless, there is a condition built in and it is set from the beginning of creation - everything depends on him and the path he wants to tread and to extent he is prepared to toil on attaining the virtues.

It is as one who needs to create something from nothing. That is to say, like one who has no previous ability at all and needs to attain everything solely through his own labor. For this too he was created, as written: "man was born to toil" (Iyov 5:7), the purpose of his creation and coming to the world is his toil.

For he could have attained everything before coming to this world without any toil like all the angels. Since, man's soul is like an angel and even higher than an angel.

If after its creation, the soul could attain everything without toil, then its coming down to this world is for nothing. Therefore, perforce the soul was created only to toil.

This is what Rabbi Yossi said: "prepare yourself to study torah". ie prepare yourself with all traits of rectification and preparation. Put in your mind that it is as if you don't have any previous rectification and preparation. Rather everything is like creating something from nothing. Then you will merit torah like your fitting innate ability.

For if you labored real labor by the sweat of your brow, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might - then you will find, ie you will find the innate abilities you are fit for, like a man searching for a lost object... For the torah does not come like an inheritance, without toil. Rather only through toil..
Rabeinu Yonah - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - ie the things of "reshut" (non-mitzva) such as eating, drinking, sitting, standing, walking, marital relations, conversation, and all bodily needs - they should all be for serving your Creator or for something which leads to this.

Eating and drinking: it goes without saying that one should not eat forbidden foods. But even if one ate and drank permitted things when he was hungry and thirsty, if he did so [with intent] for his bodily pleasure, this is not praiseworthy unless he had intent to fulfill the needs of his body and ate his necessary amount in order to be able to serve the Creator. Furthermore, excessive eating causes harm to a person, as the doctors said that most illneses are caused by excessive eating. And a person is obligated to eat only until the feeling of hunger is removed. For the palate always lusts to eat until the belly is full. And through this will come all illnesses and all pains. This is what scripture says: "a righteous man eats to sate his soul, but the stomach of the wicked shall feel want" (Mishlei 13:25). For the stomach can only grind what it can hold. But the wicked fill it up eating out of lust of the palate until its lust is finished, they harm and ruin their stomach. But the tzadik eats to sate his soul, to remove the hunger only. He upholds the body and loves his soul to do what is right in G-d's eyes..

Sitting, standing, walking: it goes without saying that one should not sit with scoffers nor stand in the way of sinners nor walk in the counsel of the wicked (Tehilim 1:1), but even to sit with the just and stand in the way of the righteous and walk in the counsel of the innocent - if he is doing so for his own benefit, to fulfill his bodily desires and lusts, this is not praiseworthy unless he did so for the sake of Heaven.

Lying down: it goes without saying at a time where he can toil in torah and mitzvot and he is drawn to sleep in order to enjoy himself. This is is not proper to do. But even when he is tired and needs to sleep to rest, if he did so for his own pleasure, it is not praiseworthy unless he intended to fulfill his bodily needs so that he coud serve his Creator. He grants sleep to his eyes and rest to his body for his health and so his mind will not be unclear in torah study due to fatigue.

Marital relations: it goes without saying that he should not commit a sin. But even during the Onah time mentioned in the torah, if he did so for his own pleasure or to fulfill his lust, this is reprehensible. And even if his intent is so that he will have sons to serve him and fill his place, this is not praiseworthy unless he had intent to have sons who will serve G-d or to fulfill the Onah written in the torah, like a man who pays his debt.

Conversation: it goes without saying that one should not slander or speak obscenities (navlut peh) or the like. But even in words of wisdom, his intent needs to be to serve his Creator or to toil in something which brings to His service.

The summary of the matter: a man is obligated to put his eyes and heart in all his matters and weigh all his deeds on the scales of the intellect. And when he sees something which brings him to the service of his Creator, he should do it. Otherwise, he should refrain from it. Thus wrote Rabeinu Meir of blessed memory.
Daat Zekenim on Pirkei Avot, writings of Rabeinu Yerucham haLevi of Mir - "prepare yourself to study torah" - one who comes to pray should not come to contemplate in fear [of G-d] in the middle of the prayer. Rather, before the prayer, he should sit and reflect. Thus, they enacted the reciting of Ashrei beforehand. So too for all the mitzvot. We should do them with preparation beforehand. This is what we learned: "prepare yourself to study torah"..

Furthermore, one must first rectify his character traits so the torah can rest on him.. Otherwise his torah is considered like devarim betaim (useless chatter).. For the character traits are the foundation of the building of the 613 commandments...
Daat Zekenim on Pirkei Avot, writings of Rabeinu Yerucham haLevi of Mir - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - see the Ramban's commentary on the verse: "you shall serve Him" (Devarim 6:13). Here is a quote:
"that you be at all times like a slave who ministers on his master always, making his master's work primary and his own needs secondary until through this he comes to what our sages said: "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven".

Namely, that even the needs of the body are done in the name of service of G-d. Eating, sleeping, and doing his bodily needs to serve G-d.. and to have intent in all his bodily needs to the verse: "I shall praise the L-ord in my life; I shall sing to the L-ord as long as I exist" (Tehilim 146:2). end quote.
The explanation of his words is that the entire purpose of man's life is to thank and praise G-d, blessed be He. The matter is not like people are used to thinking.

Namely, people think that while a person is alive he needs to thank and praise G-d for the gift of life which G-d bestowed as a kindness.

Rather, the entire matter of life is primarily to thank and praise G-d. For the foundation of the matter is that in the entire creation there is not even a hair's breadth which is for itself. Rather it's existence and essence (metziuta u'mahuta) is to minister and demonstrate His glorious kingdom and splendor. This is the secret of the purpose of the entire creation and its formations. there is nothing else at all besides this - "To make known to the children of men His mighty deeds and the glory of the majesty of His kingdom" (Tehilim 145:12). And as we learned later on: (Avot 6:11): "Everything that G‑d created in His world, He created it only for His glory, as written (Isaiah 43:7): 'All that is called by My name and for My glory, I created it, formed it, also I made it'".

See also the Ramban's commentary end of parsha Bo: "the intent of all the mitzvot is for us to believe in our G-d and thank Him for creating us. This is the intent of creation. There is no other reason and the lofty G-d desires from the earthly beings only that a man knows and His G-d who created him."
Maharal - we already explained that it is the way of these sages to give whole mussar to make a person whole (shalem) in everything. We explained that this entails three areas - between man and other people, between man and himself, and between man and G-d. These are the three things through which man will be whole in everything as is proper.

Thus Rabbi Yossi also came to make a person whole in these three areas. He said: "let the money of your fellow man be as precious to you as your own". Through this one will become whole with his fellow. He chose this trait over "cherish the honor of your fellow.." For if even the money of his fellow is cherished, all the more so that he cherishes his friend. And this is a much greater mussar.

Corresponding to man's being whole with himself, we explained earlier (Avot 1:2) that this is through the torah. It takes a man out of the lowliness of the physical, making him into a person of Intellect (baal sechel). Thus he said: "prepare yourself to study torah..". I.e. that he prepares himself to torah. For the torah is not an inheritance to man. Therefore, he must rectify and prepare himself for torah..

"let all your intent be l'Shem Shamayim" - this is the third wholeness, that man becomes whole with G-d until all his deeds are l'Shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). Thus, he gave mussar to man to become whole in everything..
Chachma u'Mussar 2:108 - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - in every project (esek), the owner of the project needs to stand over his project. For example, when building a house, even though the craftsmen are well skilled in building, but nevertheless, the owner of the house needs to stand over them. Why? Because the purpose (tachlit) of the house is chiselled before its owner more than any craftsman. Thus, more than anyone else, he will put to heart to rectify the small lackings which will detract from the purpose of dwelling peacefully in the house.

Hence, the primary builder is the purpose.

Now, if for a house of wood and stones, the primary builder is the purpose, how much more so, for the building of man which is extremely fine and lofty, that if he does not place the purpose of man before his eyes always, it is like an (unsupervised) craftsman who builds a house for others. Without a doubt, the purpose of dwelling peacefully in the house will not come out completely.

Therefore, he who wants his house to be built properly, namely, man himself - he must stand with the purpose before his eyes always. Then the peaceful house of man will be built properly. This [purpose] is what we learned: "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven". He should place this purpose before his eyes always. For it is the most lofty to elevate man's deeds in the best way.
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" - alternatively, this means towards the soul. For all matters of the body are to stand and minister onto the soul. (Daat Chachma u'Mussar 3:224)

Let us expand on this explanation. The Rambam writes (Shemonei Perakim ch.1): "a man must subjugate all his powers.. and place before his eyes always one single purpose.. and place all his deeds, movements, restings, and all matters, aligned towards this purpose, until all of his deeds do not contain anything of the useless (hevel). That is to say, an act which does not bring to this purpose. For example, to place his intent in eating, etc. for his body's health. And the intent of bodily health is so that the soul will find healthy and wholesome tools to acquire wisdom, etc. until he reaches this purpose.

Thus his intent is not only to pleasure, but to that which avails (mo'il).. The prophet already exhorted us in this saying: "know Him in all your ways".. ie that you place a purpose on that deed, namely, the truth.. And our sages already summarized this matter with few concise words saying "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven". end quote.

The kabbalists wrote that the entire creation from its beginning till its end, everything was created with two aspects - giving and receiving. This they called "duchra v'nukva" (male and female), ie giver and receiver. That is to say, everything in creation receives shefa (flow) from that which is above it and then turns and gives to that which is below it, and so on, from the highest of the highest till the lowest of the lowest. This from this and that from that.

For thus was ordained the order of progression (hishtalshelut of the mystical worlds). Indeed we find written by the angels: "all receive from each other (ol malchut shamyim)" and "give permission to each other (l'hakdish l'Yotzram), etc".

This needs explanation. For after it says they "receive from each other" perforce it implies they "give permission to each other". Why then does it repeat it again?

Rather certainly this is the secret of what we explained. Namely that the hishtalshelut of the creation occurs in the manner of giver and receiver. The lower one [receives] from the higher one and then gives to that which is lower still, this from this and this to this. Thus is the will of G-d that the creation act in this manner. The highest creation is called "keter" or "merkava". It receives shefa from G-d Himself. From there the shefa passes down to the one below it until eventually it reaches the lowest of the lowest who is only a [final] receiver.

This is the secret of what our sages brought: "the Holy One, blessed be He, created two faces in Adam haRishon" (Berachot 61a). This is the secret matter of giver and receiver.

Likewise without a doubt, according to the degree of one's clinging to G-d will be the corresponding receiving and suckling (yenika) of shefah from Him, blessed be He.

Behold "the soul is a portion of G-d from above", pure and sublime. And when the soul clings to Him, blessed be He, without separation barrier, as written "you shall cling to Him" (Devarim 10:20), certainly the soul receives and suckles shefah from His essence. From there the shefah passes to the body where the soul resides, to the 365 limbs and 248 sinews of the body which correspond to the 248 limbs and 365 sinews of the soul, as written in the holy books.. (see Shaarei Kedusha)

Let us contemplate further in this. For in being a "receiver". It is self understood that this requires two fundamental things.

One, that the receiver is perfectly aligned in all his being with the giver. He is submitted and turns his face towards him to beseech from him to give him his needs. But if he turns his face away from him, certainly he will receive nothing.

Two, besides this, the receiver needs to have receptacles (kelim) to receive, that the giver has what to fill the request of the receiver.

Now, regarding regarding body and soul, certainly the body has receptacles to receive from the soul. For its limbs and sinews are aligned to those of the soul.

But in order for the body to receive from the soul, we also need for the body to turn towards the soul, towards above.

That is to say that "he places his gaze and aspiration in all that he toils all of his days towars the true purpose" (Path of the Just ch.1). But if his actions are for the sake of his own pleasure, certainly in this he is turning his face away from the soul and then it is not possible for him to receive anything from the soul.

It is already self understood what "cutting off" (karet) it is for the body when it turns its face from the soul after it ceases to receive any shefah from it.

This is what our sages said: "which short parsha (text) is there upon which all the essential principles of the Torah depend? 'in all your ways know Him and He will direct your paths' (Mishlei 3:6) Raba said: even for a matter of transgression" (Berachot 63a)..

That is to say, that the body turns its face towards the soul, towards the true purpose in all the manners of a receiver.

With this we will also understand what our sages said: "a transgression performed with good intention (lishma) is better than a precept performed without good intention (shelo lishma)" (Nazir 23b).

For although there is nothing more evil than sin, but nevertheless, if he did it lishma, for the sake of the true purpose, and the body stands in a position of receiver, turning towards the soul, in this he receives light from the soul.

And in this way he will certainly come to know G-d, as our sages said: " 'know Him in all your ways' - even for a sin" (Berachot 63a). But if he did a mitzvah shelo lishma, not for the sake of the true purpose. Rather his gaze and aspiration was towards the body, to below. Then the body has turned its face away from the soul and is not in a position of receiver and thus will not receive light from the soul. He then becomes completely physical and automatically his deeds are nothing.

These are the words of the Rambam we brought earlier and this is what our sages taught us in concise words "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven"...

The torah writes: "And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand, and they perceived G-d, and they ate and drank" (Shemot 23:11). And our sages said on this: "like one who bites his bread and speaks before the king - this is 'and they ate and drank'" (brought in Rashi on Bamidbar 11:16).

This is astonishing! Who is the verse speaking about? On the greatest men of the "generation of knowledge". On these of whom it is written: "they saw G-d". They were on the spiritual level of seeing "visions (chizayon) of G-d", the highest level of attainment. On them it is said: "they ate and drank" - that their visions of G-d became as eating and drinking!?

On the other hand, by Yitro we find (the opposite). It is written: ".. and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat with Moses' father in law before G-d" (Shemot 18:12).

Hence from a mere meal of bread it was considered "basking in the radiance of the Shechina (before G-d)"!

From here is a faithful proof to our words. Namely, the primary thing is where does a man's face turn? Above towards the soul or below towards the body and not the true purpose? For then, even if he engages in the loftiest most sublime matters, nevertheless, since he is not standing in a position of receiver from the soul, the true form of the matter becomes ruined and transforms to something else.

Even a vision of G-d transforms to eating and drinking. Therefore, [even] by great sages of Israel, despite that they were on sublime spiritual levels, nevertheless, on their level, their vision had a turning towards below, towards the body, and it already says by them: "and they ate and drank" (i.e. a spiritual vision became a gross physical act).

But by Yitro it was the opposite of this. Their meal was done for a true purpose and they turned their face towards above, towards the soul. They stood in position of receiver, to suckle (yonek) and receive spiritual light from above. Despite that they were eating a meal of bread which seems like a small thing. But nevertheless, it became an instance of "basking in the radiance of the Shechina (divine presence)", "to eat bread before G-d". It is awesome and wondrous to one who contemplates this deeply.

More than this, we find the torah writes: "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one who was named Shifrah, and the second, who was named Puah" (Shemot 1:15). Rashi writes there (quoting the talmud Sotah 11b):
"Shifrah - this was Yocheved, [called Shifrah] because she beautified (Meshaferet) the newborn infant. Puah - this was Miriam [called Puah] because because she cried and talked and cooed to the newborn infant in the manner of women who soothe a crying infant [From Sotah 11b]".
Thus, these honorable women merited to be called by a special name in the torah because of small worth acts like these, beautifying and calming a baby, which is anyways the normal way of women. But through this the torah dedicates to them a name and hand (yad v'shem).

It is evident that there is no more important place for a person than to have a line in the holy torah which lives on and endures forever and ever..

From all this the secret of our words is clearly seen - the main thing is to where is one's face turned. Is one's face turned towards above, towards the soul, towards the true purpose and he stands in a position of receiver, to suckle the shefah (spiritual flow) from above?

For then small insignicant acts stand at the heights of the universe - "love of chesed given by the divine light of the face of the living King".

This matter is astonishing to he who contemplates it. This is what scripture says: "The way of life is above the intelligent person, in order that he turn away from the grave below" (Mishlei 15:24). For to the intelligent person (maskil), the way of life is above, his face is turned towards above. So that he turns away from descending below.

(and in Daat Chachma u'Mussar II pg.6 "the great man is he who goes and elevates (nosee alumot) greatness into the smallest things. On the other hand, for the small man even the loftiest things are transformed into mud and garbage in his hands).

To summarize, we brought the words of the Rambam who wrote: "a man needs to subjugate all the powers of his soul (mind), etc. and place before his eyes always one single purpose, etc. and place all his acts, etc. as bringing towards this purpose until his acts do not have any of the worthless (hevel), ie an act which does not bring to this purpose.

For example, [the proper way is] to place one's intent when eating towards.. health of one's body alone, etc. On this example, one's intent should not be only to pleasure .. but rather to that which is beneficial.. and our sages already summarized this whole matter with consice words.. "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" (Avot 2:14).

This includes more things. For the secret of the matter is that in the nature and course of the creation, there is no room in the creation for personal enjoyment and benefit at all. The entire matter of "for myself" is of the secret of "this world was created with a Heh, for whoever wants to go out let him go out", ie go out from the course, go out from the world - to become separated completely.

For "G-d has made one corresponding to the other (ze lumat ze asa HaElokim) (Kohelet 7:14), and the "for myself" is itself the second chariot (of evil).

But when everything follows the [normal] course and within the course, there is then no existence of "for myself". This is what we learned "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven". (Daat Chochma u'Mussar I pg.46)

(Zer Daat commentary there: in kuntras sif davar pg 51, he writes: "the whole sod (secret) of the yetzer is the "for myself" (l'atzmo). The matter of "for myself" is the entire shem haetzem (essence name) of the yetzer. The yetzer IS the "for myself"... The entire torah on one foot is that evil is due and only due to the "for myself".)

And in Daat Chochma u'Mussar II 7, 88: - for the creation and existence of man is only for another.. and likewise " 'love your fellow as yourself' is the great general principle of the torah" (Ber.Rabbah 24,7). For "to another" (l'zulato) is the makeup and foundation (mahut veyesod ha'adam) and the foundation of the entire torah.

Thus perforce and certainly "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven", for His honor and will, blessed be He. This is the order and [smooth] running of the creation as it was established. But other than this is considered turning the plate upside down.
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - .. in order that you not judge me as one who speaks excessively, I present an introduction.. Know that reasons (taamim) fall into two categories. Some [reasons] are "wisdom" and are called plainly: "wisdom". Other [reasons'] intent and purpose is to inspire people to action..

For the former, one should not speak too much. Rather, one should strive to explain them in concise language. But for the latter which obligates action, one must elaborate and satiate the listener with words and bring analogies and proofs from the words of our sages and true stories demonstrating that those who did thus succeeded while those who did not do so stumbled, etc... Most of the reasons in this tractate are of the second type..

Regarding "let the money of your fellow be cherished like your own", every child understands the reason. But to bring it to actuality, by my life, only a tiny few reached this conduct in the past and in our times. They are so few as to be annulled. Therefore, I deemed proper to elaborate in explaining this trait. For it is the cornerstone (pinat) of the torah.

When a man asked Hillel,the elder, to teach him the torah on one foot, he replied "love your fellow as yourself" (Shab.31a). And this is the reason of "let the money of your fellow be as cherished as your own, etc."

"love your fellow as yourself" does not mean to obligate that both should be of equal weight literally. For the perfect Rock, blessed be He, would not command His servants something which is impossible to do. For how could a man love his fellow like himself?

Rather, the reason of: "love your fellow as yourself" is only that one should love his fellow with the same type of love that he loves himself. Namely, the love of oneself and the love of another are like two people of the same kind but who differ in form. So too, love of oneself and his fellow can differ between much and little.

So too for the reason of "let the money of your fellow.." A man of pure eyes and a pure heart, has this trait. And whoever does not have this trait, this is due to evil-heartedness. Likewise, the wise man said: "The soul of a wicked man desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes" (Mishlei 21:10).

This precious trait (of love your fellow's money as yourself) testifies on its possessor three qualities: good sound reason, purity of heart, and bitachon (trust) in G-d with all his heart. I will explain each one separately.

Purity of heart - for one with a pure heart, without any mixture of impurities, even if he thinks it impossible that he will receive any benefit from this person, nevertheless, his purity of heart will give him joy in the success of his fellow and he will bestow love. For everything rejoices and delights in what is similar to it. He is good and thus he desires good. Hence, he cherishes the money of his fellow. This person has of the trait of his Maker, as written: "G-d is good to all" (Tehilim 145:9) and "G-d rejoices in His handiworks" (Tehilim 104:31).

But for the man who is not pure, the impurity in his heart separates between him and justness (yosher). And for one who is not just, justness is his opposite and every thing hates its opposite.

So too this person hates the good of his fellows. For this poor person, all his days are evil. For it is impossible for there to not be any successful people in the world. When the world is happy, he is in pain.

The wise man spoke of these two types, the pure and the impure, saying: "the one with an impure heart shall have his fill from his ways, and above him is a good man" (Mishlei 14:14)... But the pure man rejoices in the good of the world, and "all the days of a poor man are wretched, but he who has a good heart always has a feast" (Mishlei 15:15).

Bitachon (trust in G-d) - the man who trusts in his own efforts (instead of G-d) will look at the money of his fellow as if it is a lost object of his which his fellow found and that this money is stolen from him. He will be pained until his fellow returns to him the lost object and gives back the stolen money he stole.

Such a person's envy rages like the sea and he desires everything his fellow has. This poor man does not fear the word of G-d for he trusts on his own efforts. When his fellow finds a lost object he tells himself: "if I had passed by this place before him, I would have found it". And if his fellow profits in business, he tells himself: "if I were there when that merchandise came to him, I would have profited that money". Similarly for other matters.

Every small coin his fellows profit are like thorns in his eyes and in his sides. But "he who trusts in G-d will be surrounded by kindness" (Tehilim 32:10).

True bitachon (trust) is that he trusts in G-d with all his heart, and he removes from his thoughts any other trust and any other hope or expectation from his own efforts or from any human being. But rather the help of Heaven - He grants life and sustains all living things. One who has acquired this lofty trait will not be jealous of the success of his fellow. For he will tell himself: "this is a gift from G-d. The fellow did not acquire it through his efforts nor did I lose it due to lack of effort. Rather, "the blessing of G-d grants wealth and toil will add nothing to it" (Mishlei 10:22).

Not only will he not envy the success of his fellow and be saved from the disease of jealousy which causes the bones to rot, but when he hears of the success of his fellow, he will consider it a good tiding. And "good tidings makes the bones healthy" (Mishlei 15:30). And he will rejoice and delight on the good tiding two joys:

One, such a bitachon (trust in G-d) intensifies only in a pure heart and a pure heart will gladden on the good of one's fellow, as we explained.

The second joy is that when he sees the success of his fellow, he will strengthen bitachon (trust in G-d). For he too will succeed through him, as the wise man said: "he whose hands are pure grows stronger and stronger" (Iyov 17:9).

"do not be easily angered" - ie if the money of your fellow is not cherished like yours, then all your days are pain and angry vexations. And when the trait of anger strengthens in you, your soul will be disgusted by your toil and you will get angry and enraged all day. Thus, first the sage taught us the path to straighten the soul, renew proper intent in the heart, and removing anger from our hearts. Afterwards, he exhorted: "do not be easily angered". Since it is the way of the expert doctor to first clean out the factors which causes the illness.

When you remove anger from your heart, it will be easier to remove the evil from your flesh. All the more so, if you see that tomorrow you are dead, it will be easier to remove the evil of lust of flesh. For tomorrow you are dead and will grow worms and rot. Then you will take provisions for the road which you will go to forever and ever..