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Avos 3:16-17

Avos 3:16

Rabbi Akiva used to say that everything man is given is just a loan and a net is spread over all living things (i.e., our time is limited). The “store” of the world is open to us, the proprietor (i.e., God) extends us credit, His ledger is open (to record our bill) and His hand writes everything down. Anyone who wants to run a tab may do so but bill collectors make their rounds daily to collect payment whether one is ready for it or not. Those who exact payment have a firm basis to do so because God’s judgment is truth and everyone is prepared for the banquet (i.e., has a portion in the Next World).

Avos 3:17

Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said that if there’s no Torah, there’s no propriety; if there’s no propriety, there’s no Torah. If there’s no wisdom, there’s no reverence for God; if there’s no reverence for God, there’s no wisdom. If there’s no understanding, there’s no knowledge; if there’s no knowledge, there’s no understanding. If there’s no food, there’s no Torah; if there’s no Torah, there’s no food. He used to say that one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds is like a tree with many branches but few roots – a good wind can uproot and overturn it as per Jeremiah 17:6, “He will be like a tamarisk in the desert and not see when good comes. Rather, he will inhabit a parched place in the wilderness, an uninhabited salt land.” One whose deeds exceed his wisdom, however, is like a tree with few branches and many roots – not even all the winds of the world can budge it as per Jeremiah 17:8, “He will be like a tree planted by the water that spreads its roots by the river. He will not fear when the heat comes and its foliage will be luxurious. He will not be concerned in a year of drought, nor will it stop producing fruit.”

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz