Pirkei Avot Video Essay Series Completed

I am very excited to share that I have successfully completed my series of video essays on Pirkei Avot! Having finished up the fifth chapter last week, I have now shared insights on all five chapters of this collection of rabbinic wisdom sayings, which are available for public enjoyment.

While I created this series for sharing with residents at the senior living facility where I serve as the Director of Pastoral Care, it is also available for the broader public, as well. With my intended audience in mind, I spoke more slowly than I would normally have spoken, as well as making these texts more approachable.

I am very glad that I was able to carry this idea out to a successful completion, which took, as can be noticed, months, as I completed the first chapter by the end of January, the second chapter by the end of February, the third chapter by the end of March, the fourth chapter by early May, and the fifth chapter by mid-June. It took a while to complete, but it is finished.

I progressed steadily through Pirkei Avot, by sharing insights for several minutes each day at work on each of the texts. The 97 video essays on this significant piece of rabbinic literature will remain where they are and are not only available for the public, but I may also re-broadcast them to the residents at the senior living facility.

One thing I began doing at some point was titling the videos, broadly describing the texts that I was discussing, which should also be helpful in gaining a sense of the content.

Another thing that occurred throughout the series was gaining a better understanding of the texts within Pirkei Avot – sure, I had read through them many times, but having to sit with these texts and to explicate them to others forced me to gain a better understanding of them. I am very fortunate that I have a better handle on these dozens of texts through having undergone this process.

Once again, I am very glad and fortunate I was able to carry this idea to its successful completion and I hope you enjoy!

Video Essays on the Fifth Chapter of Pirkei Avot

Having published video essays on each of the texts in the first chapter of Pirkei Avotthe second chapter of Pirkei Avot, the third chapter of Pirkei Avot, and the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot, I am now proud to share that I have completed a series of video essays on each of the texts in the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot.

This entire series on the fifth chapter is available in this YouTube playlist.

While the video essay on the 21st text in this chapter is the longest of the entire series, the subsequent episode is one of the shortest of the series. This chapter actually yielded a few other video essays that reached double-digit minutes, largely due to the texts that utilized lists. The average length of the video essays on this chapter is 8:41.

Here is the entire series of video essays on the fifth chapter:
Pirkei Avot 5:1 – The World Was Created with 10 Statements
Pirkei Avot 5:2 – 10 Generations from Adam to Noah and 10 Generations from Noah to Abraham
Pirkei Avot 5:3 – Abraham Tested with Ten Trials
Pirkei Avot 5:4 – 10 Miracles/Plagues in Egypt & 10 More at the Sea
Pirkei Avot 5:5 – Ten Wonders Occurred for Our Ancestors in the Temple
Pirkei Avot 5:6 – The Creation of 10 Supernatural Phenomena
Pirkei Avot 5:7 – 7 Characteristics of Wise People & Uncultured People in Conversation
Pirkei Avot 5:8 – 7 Punishments & 7 Transgressions
Pirkei Avot 5:9 – Pestilence Increases at Four Periods of Time
Pirkei Avot 5:10 – Four Characteristics of People with Regard to Possessions
Pirkei Avot 5:11 – Four Temperaments of People
Pirkei Avot 5:12 – Four Types of Students
Pirkei Avot 5:13 – Four Categories of Tzedakah-Givers
Pirkei Avot 5:14 – Four Types of People Who Go To The Study House
Pirkei Avot 5:15 – Four Categories of Those Who Sit Before the Sages
Pirkei Avot 5:16 – Love That Is/Isn’t Dependent Upon Something
Pirkei Avot 5:17 – Disagreements That Are/Aren’t For the Sake of Heaven
Pirkei Avot 5:18 – Causing the Masses to Sin or Merit
Pirkei Avot 5:19 – The Disciples of Abraham & Bilam
Pirkei Avot 5:20 – Wisdom from Yehudah ben Tema
Pirkei Avot 5:21 – Different Stages at Different Ages
Pirkei Avot 5:22 – Ben Bag Bag’s Advice of Sticking with Studying the Torah
Pirkei Avot 5:23 – One’s Reward Corresponds to One’s Labor

Video Essays on the Fourth Chapter of Pirkei Avot

Having published video essays on each of the texts in the first chapter of Pirkei Avot, the second chapter of Pirkei Avot, and the third chapter of Pirkei Avot, I am now proud to share that I have completed a series of video essays on each of the texts in the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot.

This entire series on the fourth chapter is available in this YouTube playlist.

Starting off, the first video in this chapter is lengthier than the rest, as it is a topic upon which I researched and wrote a decade ago.  It clocks in at a little over sixteen minutes. On the other end, the shortest video was the sixth video, which was under three minutes. The average runtime of these 22 videos is 7:06.

Here is the entire series of video essays on the fourth chapter:

Pirkei Avot 4:1 – Ben Zoma’s Paradoxical Characteristic Definitions
Pirkei Avot 4:2 – Ben Azzai’s Advice on Running Towards Mitzvot and Fleeing From Transgressions
Pirkei Avot 4:3 – Ben Azzai’s Advice on Denigrating Neither People Nor Objects
Pirkei Avot 4:4 – Humility & Not Profaning God’s Reputation
Pirkei Avot 4:5 – Relationships with the Words of Torah
Pirkei Avot 4:6 – Rabbi Yose on Honoring the Torah
Pirkei Avot 4:7: Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yose’s Advice on Staying Away from Judging
Pirkei Avot 4:8 – Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yose’s Advice on Judging
Pirkei Avot 4:9 – Rabbi Yonatan’s Observations on Socioeconomics and Torah
Pirkei Avot 4:10 – Rabbi Meir’s Advice on Efforts in the World & Torah
Pirkei Avot 4:11 – Mitzvot, Transgressions, and Assemblies
Pirkei Avot 4:12 – Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua’s Advice on Elevating Respect & Reverence
Pirkei Avot 4:13 – Carefulness in Study & The Crown of a Good Reputation
Pirkei Avot 4:14 – Rabbi Nehorai’s Advice on Remaining in Dialogue with Colleagues on Torah Study
Pirkei Avot 4:15 – Theodicy, Greetings, and Social Positioning
Pirkei Avot 4:16 – Rabbi Ya’akov’s Metaphor of The World to Come as a Banquet Hall
Pirkei Avot 4:17 – Rabbi Ya’akov’s Views on Activities and Enjoyment in This World and The Next World
Pirkei Avot 4:18 – Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar on Appropriate Timing for Interpersonal Behaviors
Pirkei Avot 4:19 – Samuel the Small’s Advice Vis-à-vis One’s Enemies
Pirkei Avot 4:20 – Rabbinic Metaphors on Education & Age
Pirkei Avot 4:21 – Rabbi Elazar HaKappar on Envy, Lust, & Glory
Pirkei Avot 4:22 – Rabbi Elazar HaKappar’s Theology on Life, Death, & God’s Judging


Video Essays on the Third Chapter of Pirkei Avot

Having published video essays on each of the texts in the first chapter of Pirkei Avot and in the second chapter of Pirkei Avot, I am now proud to share that I have completed a series of video essays on each of the texts in the third chapter of Pirkei Avot.

This entire series on the third chapter is available in this YouTube playlist.

Here is the entire series of video essays on the third chapter:
Avot 3:1

Avot 3:2

Avot 3:3

Avot 3:4

Avot 3:5

Avot 3:6

Avot 3:7

Avot 3:8

Avot 3:9

Avot 3:10

Avot 3:11

Avot 3:12

Avot 3:13

Avot 3:14

Avot 3:15

Avot 3:16

Avot 3:17

Avot 3:18

New Pirkei Avot Series

I am excited to announce I have created a new series on Pirkei Avot, a collection of dozens of rabbinic wisdom sayings from many centuries ago. This series is taking place in the form of brief videos of me discussing each and every text in the collection.

Having kicked-off this series on Monday, the YouTube playlist for chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot is available here. I plan on creating separate YouTube playlists for each of the chapters of Pirkei Avot.

The series involves a new video releasing every day, Monday through Friday, so far, each of them lasts several minutes. Although I have created them for the enjoyment and edification of the residents at the senior living facility where I am currently serving as the chaplain, it is, of course, also available for other folks out there, as well 🙂

Considering Elders’ Ages in the Thought of Yehudah, son of Tema

In my current position as a chaplain in a senior living facility, I have returned to a familiar text, about which I hadn’t considered a certain section (Avot 5.24):

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר
בֶּן חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים לַמִּקְרָא
בֶּן עֶשֶׂר לַמִּשְׁנָה
בֶּן שְׁלשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה לַמִּצְוֹת
בֶּן חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה לַתַּלְמוּד
בֶּן שְׁמֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה לַחֻפָּה
בֶּן עֶשְׂרִים לִרְדֹּף
בֶּן שְׁלשִׁים לַכֹּחַ
בֶּן אַרְבָּעִים לַבִּינָה
בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים לָעֵצָה
בֶּן שִׁשִּׁים לַזִּקְנָה
בֶּן שִׁבְעִים לַשֵּׂיבָה
בֶּן שְׁמֹנִים לַגְּבוּרָה
בֶּן תִּשְׁעִים לָשׁוּחַ
בֶּן מֵאָה כְּאִלּוּ מֵת וְעָבַר וּבָטֵל מִן הָעוֹלָם

Yehudah, son of Tema, used to say:
“A boy of five years old to Scriptural study
a boy of ten years old to Mishnah study
a boy of thirteen to commandments
a boy of fifteen to Talmud study
a boy of eighteen to the marriage canopy
a boy of twenty to pursue
a boy of thirty to power
a boy of forty to discernment
a boy of fifty to counsel
a boy of sixty to old age
a boy of seventy to elderliness
a boy of eighty to strength
a boy of ninety to be bent-over
a boy of one hundred is as if he is dead and has passed beyond the world and gone.”

While this androcentric text describes various growth stages in a boy’s/man’s life, mostly in increments of decades, typically, I have seen a lot of written attention on the pedagogic aspects of ages 5, 10, 13, and 15 (and even 18), yet there is still quite a lot more to this statement of Yehudah, son of Tema’s. Indeed, while in recent years, I have been quite curious about 20, 30, 40, and 50, I recently have been thinking about ages 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 due to my current position working as a chaplain with a senior living facility.

When it comes to 60, the phrase זקנה instantly makes me think of זקן – beard; someone reaching 60 sports a beard, but also seems to advertise their wisdom. Certainly, this seems to bridge the ages of 40 and 50 with their discernment and counsel – more intellectual/wisdom aspects with the ages of 70-100 as describing those on the physical [and mental] decline.

With 70, Yehudah, son of Tema, seems to reference David’s dying at the age of 70, when he died “בשיבה טובה a good old age” (I Chron. 29.28). With 80, Yehudah, son of Tema, seems to be referencing Psalms, which describes the length of our years being 70, but “וְאִ֤ם בִּגְבוּרֹ֨ת ׀ שְׁמ֘וֹנִ֤ים שָׁנָ֗ה eighty years with strength” (Ps. 90.10).

Beyond that, Yehudah, son of Tema recognizes that our frail bodies get physically bent by 90 and might as well be dead and done with this world at 100.

Working with the senior crowd, there is certainly something to be said for observing the physical frailties that come with age. However, one thing I have been surprised by is his observation about reaching 100 – until now, I thought it was somewhat humorous, as in “They might as well be dead; they’re no longer of use to society.”

While that may be true, in speaking with one particular centenarian who mentioned that her eyesight is mostly gone and so is a lot of her hearing and that she is largely done with this world(!), it was so fascinating to hear it from her that she is no longer really part of this world and should be gone by now. I had always thought Yehudah, son of Tema, meant that line as somewhat of a joke, yet hearing it from a centenarian was really quite shocking as to how insightful this statement really is.

As I continue working with these residents, I am curious as to how I will continue to gain more insights from this statement of Yehudah, son of Tema.