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Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 5 Mishna 2
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 5 Mishna 2פרק ה משנה ב
There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah, in order to make known how forbearing G-d is. For all those generations kept on angering Him repeatedly, until he brought upon them the waters of the flood.
עֲשָׂרָה דוֹרוֹת מֵאָדָם וְעַד נֹחַ, לְהוֹדִיעַ כַּמָּה אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם לְפָנָיו, שֶׁכָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת הָיוּ מַכְעִיסִין וּבָאִין עַד שֶׁהֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת מֵי הַמַּבּוּל.

Tiferet Yisrael - "10 generations from Adam to Noah.." - as written in the torah: Adam begot Shet, Shet begot Enosh, etc. until Noah. Why did the torah make known to us this order of generations? To teach us until how many generations G-d withholds retribution to give them a chance to repent.
Bartenura - "in order to make known how forbearing G-d is.." - so too do not wonder that He withheld wrath from the nations of the world all these years for their oppressing His sons (Israel). For He was more forbearing to the generations from Adam to Noach and afterwards they perished in the flood.
Matanat Avot - "in order to make known how forbearing G-d is" - this mishna teaches a very great fundamental principle of the torah. It is important to realize this, especially in our orphaned generation where most people imagine G-d as someone very scary and threatening. He, so to speak, stands behind their back with a punishing stick saying "if you don't listen to Me, you will surely receive a severe beating!".

These poor people think G-d's entire goal in the world is only to seek how to punish everyone for having committed some sin. Without a doubt, such views are a big mistake and also contain heresy and foolishness. For anyone who applies his mind can understand that it is not conceivable that G-d created the world only to conjure up all sorts of strange laws in order to catch people who transgress them and punish them severely.

Rather, all of G-d's goal is only to bestow the maximum good possible to His creations, as written in Tehilim: "G-d is good to all and His mercy is over all His works" (Tehilim 145:9).

Only that if people do not heed His voice and corrupt all that is just, then He has no choice but to punish them to return them to the good or to cleanse them of their sins so that they will be able to merit to cling to the Source of good in the future.

The sage of this mishna tells us: "come and I will prove to you that G-d is not at all interested in punishing His creations but rather to give them perfect reward. And even when He is forced to punish them, He waits a long time and withholds anger to give them a chance to repent. Only that if they still did not repent, then in the end He is forced to punish them."

The Tanna brings a proof from the "ten generations from Adam to Noach, in order to make known how forbearing G-d is". G-d waited for them for over 1600 years and "all those generations kept on angering Him", and He still did not punish them. Only in the end after their measure [of sin] was full and they did not repent despite all the warnings of Noach - He brought the flood upon them.

The same thing happened from Noach to Avraham (next misha). G-d so much desired to bestow good reward to them, but there was no one capable of receiving it until Avraham came and G-d finally found someone worthy of receiving the reward. Thus, G-d gave him all the reward of the previous ten generations in addition to his reward.