It’s kind of amazing, but I actually started learning Pirkei Avos on Shabbos, around minchah time.
Over Pesach, I had the luxury of reading from the Book of Our Heritage (I had the time because my mother-in-law was happily watching and entertaining the little one) and was reminded of the custom to learn a chapter of Pirkei Avos every Shabbos afternoon from Pesach until Rosh Hashana.
I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, that sounds like something I would like to start doing again.” I recalled attending a shiur on Pirkei Avos by Rabbi Sroy Levitanksy in St. Louis, and it was great. Little paragraphs which give direction on how to behave in an ethical manner. Count me in.
Miraculously, I have succeeded in keeping it up these last three weeks (incidentally, I am also still counting the omer….what? Yeah!). Instead of sitting on the couch after my husband goes to minchah and feeling grumpy that I don’t have anything to read (again), I’ve been reading the chapter which corresponds with the week.
Here are a few gleanings from my study:
Week One: I had just been thinking about how Rabbi Keleman would say that if a person is not moving forward spiritually, they are moving backwards, and that each decision (even something as seemingly mundane as what tie to put on) was moving a person in one direction or the other. As I read the first chapter I came across this gem:
Artscroll explains that someone who doesn’t increase his Torah knowledge will decrease it because he eventually forgets what he has learned previously. This resonated with me. It reminded me that since I haven’t been learning as much (B”H, mainly because I have other obligations in my life which R’Chalkowski told me are primary), I’ve felt a sort of drift. Not really noticeable to anyone save me, but it’s there, nonetheless. So I was encouraged to try to start increasing and prevent the decreasing from taking hold. Little things like reading some the laws of Shabbos in addition to a Parenting magazine on Shabbos afternoon.
Week Two: I almost forgot to read the chapter for this week, so I was very relieved when it occurred to me that I should be learning something. I was a little distracted while reading through the chapter. However, I did retain something, which was useful when one of my fifth-graders asked me to translate one of the verses! It was this one: