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Pirke Avot chapter four, verse twenty-nine

Well, and here we are, around again. It’s Sukkot, again; we are at the end of our liturgical year, again; we are heading into b’raishit (in the beginning) again.

I have spent two liturgical years talking about Pirke Avot; today we are looking at the last verse of Chapter Four. There is a Chapter Five to do, and even a Chapter Six (although the sixth chapter is not actually part of the original text), but Your Humble Blogger is planning to take a break from the avot for a year or two. I may yet get back to Chapter Five, but then, I may not. I have noticed, and some Gentle Readers have noticed, that I am just slogging through these verses now. I’m not bringing any real energy or enthusiasm to them; I’m not tearing into them with joy. Better, then, not to do them at all—or at least, not to do them for a while.

I haven’t entirely decided what I will do for next year. I will want to do something for our weekly religious note, some sort of text examination, probably. So this isn’t a farewell to the series, so much as it is a seasonal change, like this time of year, another moment on the spiral, a year ending and a year beginning, the trees turning colors, the summer clothes packed away and the sweaters shaken out and brushed off, the sunscreen not much use any more for a while, but the possibility of apple-picking and hot cider. That time of year.

So this is not the Last Verse, either of the avot or necessarily of our time with the avot, but it is the last verse for a while, and a good long one, too. I’m going to use Judah Goldin’s translation, and I’m not going to add to it at all, just to type it in and let it sit there ending the chapter. It’s a very Yom Kippur sort of verse, and although Yom Kippur was last week, and those gates are closed, it was the verse I was thinking about at the time.

He used to say: The ones who were born are to die, and the ones who have died are to be brought to life again, and the ones who are brought to life are to be summoned to judgment—so that one may know, and make known, and have the knowledge that he is Gd, he is the designer, he is the creator, he is the discerner, he is the judge, he the witness, he the plaintiff, and he will summon to judgment: blessed be he, in whose presence is neither iniquity, nor forgetfulness, nor respect of persons, nor taking of bribes—for everything is his. Know that that everything is according to the reckoning.

And let not thine impulse give thee reassurances that the netherworld will prove a refuge to thee—for against thy will art thou formed, against thy will art thou born, against thy will dost thou live, against thy will die, and against thy will shalt thou give account and reckoning before the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be he.

I think that’s a good place to leave off. For now, for this text.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

I've enjoyed the Avot series a lot, even though I haven't done well with commenting. I look forward to whatever's coming next.


Man, I love this time of year.

If I give Gd or whomever my permission to do his/her/its thing against my will, is that hubris or grace?

peace
Matt


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