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Pirke Avot chapter three, verse seven

I think I’m going to whip through a bunch of verses today, because they are repeating previous ones:

Rabbi Halafta of Kefar Hananiah says: When ten sit studying the Torah, the Shekina resides in their midst, as it is said, Gd standeth in the congregation of Gd. How do we know that the same is true of five? For it is said, This band of His He hath established on the earth. How do we know that the same is true of three? For it is said, In the mist of the judges He judgeth. How do we know that the same is true of two? For it is said, Then they that feared the Lord spoke with one another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard. How do we know that the same is true of one? For it is said, In every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee.

This is, of course, just a different version of Chanina ben Teradion’s saying a few verses back, with different proof texts and starting with ten rather than three. Although starting with ten makes it a bit more dramatic, there isn’t a surprise here: of course if the Divine Presence sits with three who sit and study Torah, the same is true for five and ten. Starting with a bigger number is just delaying the big payoff, which is with a single person.

The difference is in the proof texts, which are frankly a little weaker here; most modern translations of Amos don’t think that agudahis referring to a band of people at all. What is nice is the implication about the written word, as the Malachi verse continues with a reference to a sefer zikron, book of remembrance being written before the eyes of the Gd-fearers, and the Exodus quote is about all the places asher az’kir, where the remembrance is, and where az’kir is the same zkr root as zikron. And is not the Pirke Avot a sefer zikron? So I like that. Other than that, though, this is just a repetition. Good to have, but not worth a whole week, right?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,