Translation:Mishnah/Seder Nezikin/Tractate Avot/Chapter 1
- Moshe received the Torah from Sinai,
- And transmitted it to Yehoshua,
- And Yehoshua to the Elders,
- And the Elders to the Prophets,
- And the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly.
- They said three things:
- Deliberate before delivering a verdict,
- and establish many students,
- and make a fence for the Torah.
- Shimon the Righteous was of the last of the Men of the Great Assembly.
- He would say:
- Upon three things the world stands —
- upon the Torah, and upon service, and upon kind deeds.
- Antigonus of Sokho received [the tradition] from Shimon the Righteous.
- He would say:
- Do not be like servants attending a master in order to receive a reward,
- Rather be like servants attending a master not in order to receive a reward;
- And may the fear of Heaven be upon you.
- Yosei ben Yo'ezer of Tzereidah and Yosef ben Yochanan of Yerushalayim received from him.
- Yosei ben Yo'ezer of Tzereidah says:
- Your house should be a meeting house for the sages;
- become dirty from the dust of their feet, and drink their words thirstily.
- Yosei ben Yochanan of Yerushalayim says:
- Let your house be open wide, and let the poor be members of your household.
- And do not increase conversation with a woman.
- They said [this] regarding his wife, all the more so with the wife of his friend;
- From here, the sages said:
- Anyone who increases conversation with the woman —
- He causes evil to himself, and neglects the words of Torah,
- And in his end he inherits Gehenna.
- Yehoshua ben Perachiah and Nittai of Arbel received the transmission from them.
- Yehoshua ben Perachia said,
- Make for yourself a rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend;
- and judge every person in their favor.
- Nittai of Arbel said,
- Distance yourself from a bad neighbor,
- Do not befriend a wicked person,
- And do not despair of punishment.
- Yehudah ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shatach received from them.
- Yehudah ben Tabbai said,
- Do not act as an advisor among judges.
- When the litigants are before you, see them as criminals.
- And when the litigants have taken their leave, see them as innocent, should they have accepted the decision.
Shimon ben Shatach said:
Examine the witnesses thoroughly,
but be careful in your diction,
lest from your words they lie.
Shemayah and Avtalyon recieved the tradition from them.
And hate power,
And do not get friendly with the government
Sages, be careful with your words,
unless you are exiled to a place of evil water [heretic teachings; see note].
The following students might drink and profane the name of the Heavens.
Hillel and Shammai received [the Torah] from them [Shemayah and Avtalyon].
Hillel used to say:
Be of the disciples of Aaron,
loving peace and pursuing peace,
loving [one's fellow] creatures and bringing them closer to the Torah.
He [also] used to say:
A name made widespread [eventually] loses its fame.
And one who does not increase [his knowledge] causes [it] to decrease.
And one who does not study [the Torah] is liable to die.
And one who makes [unworthy] use of the crown [of learning] passes away.
This was another favorite teaching of his:
If I am not for me, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
Shammai used to say:
Make your Torah [study a] fixed [habit].
Speak little, and do much.
And receive every person with a pleasant countenance.
Rabban Gamliel used to say:
Provide for yourself a teacher.
And remove yourself from doubt.
And do not make a habit of tithing by guesswork.
Shimon, his son, used to say:
All my days, I grew up among the Sages,
And I found nothing better for a person than silence.
And studying [the Torah] is not the most important thing, but doing [it is].
And whoever talks too much brings about sin.
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel used to say:
On three things does the world stand:
On justice, and on truth, and on peace,
As it is said:
“Judge with truth, justice, and peace in your gates.”