“Distance Yourself from a Bad Neighbor…”

Last week in our Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) book we read that we should “judge everyone favorably.” In other words, we should give people the benefit of the doubt and not be hasty in our judgments. This made me think of an incident years ago in which someone told me they had seen the Sunday School Superintendent (or deacon, or director) return a bunch of beer cans. This person assumed that the superintendent had drank them all himself and was an alcoholic. I said, “But you don’t know if this person picked them up alongside the road, or  was returning them for someone else, or had drank a beer now and then over years, or ….?” This is a case of jumping to a hasty conclusion without getting all the facts. We must give people the benefit of the doubt.

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“Anyone Who Converses Excessively…”

I am part of a group that is studying the book Pirkei Avot, which translates to English as Chapters of the Fathers. It is a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis from centuries ago. Because of its contents, it is also called Ethics of the Fathers. Our teacher is Keren Hannah Pryor of the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies sends an email every week with a portion from the book and her thoughts on it, and then a Facebook group discusses it. JJ and I  also discuss the teachings in our homeschool.

A couple of weeks ago, our portion was the following:

Avot 1:5  Yossei ben Yochanan of Jerusalem says: Let your house be open wide; treat the poor as members of your household; and do not converse excessively with women. They said this even about one’s own wife; surely it applies to another’s wife. Consequently the Sages said: Anyone who converses excessively with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects Torah study, and eventually will inherit Gehinnom.

When we read the part about not conversing excessively with a woman, JJ’s eyes sparkled with mischief, as you can probably imagine. Before he could speak, I said “Wait a minute!” (while feeling a bit offended and hoping this would not lead to a put down of women….). When it comes to Hebraic/Jewish teachings, it seems to me that it’s not usually what it first appears to be. “So let’s keep reading and see what this REALLY means.”

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A Blanket of Cats…

This morning I woke up under a blanket of four cats: Rikki was sleeping on my chest, Tessla was sleeping on my stomach, Little Bear was sleeping on my legs, and Luke was on my feet. Nothing is warmer or more cuddly than a blanket of cats. It’s a great way to wake up, although I felt so cuddly that I slept late.

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