Pirkei Avot- Ethics of the Fathers

Chapter 5

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He who says, "What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours"--this is the common type, though some say that this is the type of Sodom.

He who says, "What is mine is yours and what is yours is mine"--he is an ignorant man.

He who says, "What is mine is yours and what is yours is thine own"--he is a saintly man.

And he who says, "What is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine"--he is a wicked man.

14. There are four temperaments among men:

Easy to provoke and easy to appease--his loss is canceled by his gain.

Hard to provoke and hard to appease--his gain is canceled by his loss.

Hard to provoke and easy to appease--he is a saintly man.

Easy to provoke and hard to appease--he is a wicked man.

15. Four characteristics are found among students:

Quick to learn and quick to forget, his gain is canceled by his loss.

Slow to learn and slow to forget, his loss is canceled by his gain.

Quick to learn and slow to forget, his is a happy lot.

Slow to learn and quick to forget, his is an unhappy lot.

16. There are four types of charity-givers:

He who wants to give but does not wish that others should give--he begrudges what belongs to others.

He who wants that others should give but not that he should give--he begrudges what belongs to himself.

He who wants to give and also that others should give--he is a saintly man.

He who does not want to give himself and does not wish that others should give--he is a wicked man.

17. There are four types among those who attend the house of study:

He who goes and does not practice (study)--he has the reward of his going.

He who practices (studies) but does not go--he has the reward of his practicing (studying).

He who goes and also practices (studies)--he is a saintly man.

He who neither goes nor practices (studies)--he is a wicked man.

18. There are four types among those who sit in the presence of the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve.

"The sponge," who soaks up everything. "The funnel," who takes in at this end and lets out at the other. "The strainer," who lets out the wine and retains the dregs. "The sieve," who removes the coarse meal and collects the fine flour.

19. Whenever love depends upon something and it passes, then the love passes away too. But if love does not depend upon some ulterior interest then the love will never pass away.

What is an example of the love which depended upon some material advantage? That of Amnon for Tamar. And what is an example of the love which did not depend upon some ulterior interest? That of David and Jonathan.

20. Any controversy waged in the service of God shall in the end be of lasting worth, but any that is not shall in the end lead to no permanent result.

Which controversy was an example of being waged in the service of God? Such was the controversy of Hillel and Shammai. And which was not for God? Such was the controversy of Korah and all his company.

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