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Proper Use of Strength, Ethics of the Fathers

By Batya Medad
10/8/2010, 12:00 AM


In order for this to happen, we must stand up strong, fearless and daring, like a mother lion protecting her cubs, to defend our Land and our People and our rights.
Chodesh Tov!  I want to get this posted before going to pray at Tel Shiloh with my women's group.  As usual, you can find more of my articles on Shiloh Musings and me-ander.  Have a wonderful month, Shabbat and week to come.

Proper Use of Strength, Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers

One Wednesday evening, after an inspiring morning in Matan, I traveled with neighbors to nearby Eli for a shiur by Miram Wolf, which was in memory of a friend's mother.  When Miriam had lived in Eli, she gave us classes in TaNaCh, Bible, and we were very excited to have the opportunity to hear her again.

This time she took a mishne from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, V, 20.

 כ. יהודה בן תימא אומר: הוי עז כנמר; וקל כנשר; ורץ כצבי; וגבור כארילעשות רצון אביך שבשמים. הוא היה אומר: עז פנים לגיהנם; ובושת פנים לגן עדן. יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו, ותן חלקנו בתורתך. 20. Judah the son of Teima would say: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, fleeting as a deer and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven. He would also say: The brazen--to purgatory; the bashful*--to paradise. May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah.

We spent the evening trying to define the terms.  The question concerned the word עז, oz, strength/daring which is used in contrasting positive and negative instructions.

We are told to be as עז, oz, strength/daring  as a leopard, but the phrase עז פנים oz-pannim, brazen is negative, leading to hell.  The opposite is ובושת פנים boshet-pannim which they translate as "bashful," which we translated/explained as "humble before G-d."

And that is supposed to be the way to Heaven. What is this עז oz?  What is the message here? I'm a political commentator, observer of people and events.  I also believe very strongly in G-d and the Jewish religion.

 I think that this mishne, law, summarizes very well what I've been trying to say on Shiloh Musings for a long time. In order for us to be redeemed:

יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו, ותן חלקנו בתורתך. May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah.

 

In order for this to happen, we must stand up strong, fearless and daring, like a mother lion protecting her cubs, to defend our Land and our People and our rights.  But at the same time we must be humble before G-d and not rewrite His Laws, nor may we adopt foreign and perverse moralities and ideologies.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!