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Pirkei Avot 2:1: No’am Elimelech Print E-mail
Written by Machberes Avodas Hashem   

Pirkei AvotRabbi said: Which is the proper path that a man should choose for himself? Whatever is a credit to himself and earns him the esteem of fellow men. Be as scrupulous in performing a “minor” mitzvah as in a “major” one, for you do not know the reward given for the respective mitzvot. Calculate the cost of a mitzvah against its reward, and the reward of a sin against its cost. Consider three things and you will not come into the grip of sin: Know what is above you; a watchful Eye, an attentive Ear and all your deeds are recorded in a Book (Avot 2:1).


“Now God said to Abram: Get yourself out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1).” We must serve the Creator on three levels, each higher than the next. To begin with, we must break the power of desire which is part of our natural constitution, such as the desire to eat and drink, by making sure that our eating and drinking take place in sanctity and purity. Thereby we break the power of other gods, for by gematria, the word Elohim (gods) is identical with hateva (nature), both equaling 86.

Second, we must break our own lowly qualities, which have been part of our character from the day we left our mother's womb. Some of us are inferior to others with regard to certain character traits, such as anger. After we break the power of these low and despicable qualities, we can move on to the category of love of the Creator.

Finally, we must arrive at the third level, Tiferet, beauty. We have already explained above, in the portion of Noah, that all man's deeds must be beautiful and glorious, lust we are taught that the right path a man must choose is, “All that brings beauty to him who adopts it and also brings him beauty from men.”

All this is suggested by our verse. “Get out of your country,” symbolizes the first level, that of the physical and earthly desires which are part of the material nature we must transcend.

“And from your kindred,” hints at the second level: the inferior qualities which are man's at earth.

“And from your father's house,” implies the third level. Most of man's odious boasting consists of arrogance and pride because of his father or grandfather's greatness. We must abandon this lowly quality for a different type of beauty which is good in the eyes of both God and man, as mentioned above.

“To the land that I will show you,” the conclusion of the verse, refers to a high place (by elevating the 3 basic characteristics we arrived at a higher level where the lowly qualities are transformed into means of Divine service). [Noam Elimelech; Lech Lecha]

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