Ethics of Our Fathers: How to Pass Down Wisdom

Moses Appoints Joshua, as in Deuteronomy 31:7-...

Moses Appoints Joshua, as in Deuteronomy 31:7-8; illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop’s 1894 Treasures of the Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.

This quote is from Pirkei Avot (#1)

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are the only people in history that died with a kiss from G-d.

Moses passed the Torah down to Joshua who passed it down to the 70 elders who passed it down to the 120 men of the Great Assembly. Meaning, they were the leaders of their generation in teaching the Torah.

During the time of the Great Assembly, lots of the Torah was written down. These were also the men who wrote the Hebrew prayers down as well.

What does it mean to “make a fence”? It means that the rabbis made some stricter laws in order so we wouldn’t get close to making a mistake. (Like a fence around the pool so a child doesn’t fall in).

The rabbis realized that the Torah would be interpreted in different ways and so they got together with many students in a room and talked to each other about Torah and about the different opinions regarding the Torah.

Then those disciples would go out and teach others about the Torah.

My thoughts: Is this advice for our leaders and teachers? Everyone can be a teacher, so maybe this is advice for everyone trying to teach wisdom. This is the real way to pass it down.

What does it mean to “be deliberate in judgement”? A judge needs to be careful and patient so he doesn’t judge incorrectly.

No matter how trivial, we need to evaluate every decision we make in life.




    1. What does our Torah teach us about people who have a Divine experience? «
    2. The Chain of Tradition « Coffee Shop Rabbi

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