May 26, 2024 |


Posted on October 29, 2017

About 2,000 years ago, Yehuda haNasi codified the Mishna, part of the Oral Torah, which was intended to transform the Torah into a set of guidelines for Jewish living.  Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Sages, is the only tractate of the Mishna that does not include Jewish laws.  It has been compared to Bartletts Familiar Quotations and contains famous rabbinic expressions.  In the Gesher class, our goal is to learn some of these rabbinic expressions and then to develop personal meanings and connections through the creation of i-movie trailer on our i-pads. 
Last week, we learned about the rabbis’ set of 14 stages of a Jewish life.  This week, we looked at the first verse of Pirkei Avot in which they trace the transmission of Torah from Moses to Joshua to the Prophets, etc. with the suggestion that ultimately that Torah has been transmitted to each of us.  The rabbis then teach us that the transmission of Torah requires three things: “Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many students and put a fence around the Torah.”  Then we looked at the second mishna in Pirkei Avot, “On three things the world stands; on the Torah, on worship and on acts of loving kindness.”  This mishna was then compared to the 18th mishna in the first chapter, “On three things the world stands; on judgment, on truth, and on peace.”  We wondered if these statements are somehow equivalent.  And students suggested that the second statement feels more like universal values to them where the first statement feels like it applies specifically to the Jewish people.  Next week, we’ll create our first videos with one of these mishnayot as a foundation.
Our tefillah experience focused on Ashrei since Gesher students often lead this prayer at Monday or Thursday morning minyanimand at each other’s b’nei mitzvah.
As part of our study of the Jewish Life Cycle, next week, we will have our first special guest, an expert, to talk with us about birth in the lives of Jewish people.