THE SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHIES OF SAGES
After the conclusion of Passover until the end of Rosh Hashana there is a tradition to study The Mishnah tractate known as Pirkei Avot, Values of Our Fathers. For the summer, we will be highlighting portions of Pirkei Avot so that we will have covered a significant portion of the work.
The first chapter describes the principals who are responsible for the chain of tradition. Instead of giving biographical details, we are given a salient quotation from each link. It is my feeling that each quotation should be viewed as a spiritual biography.
Pirkei Avot Chapter I
1. Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly.
The latter (The Men of the Great Assembly) used to say three things: Be considerate in [the administration of] justice, rear many disciples and make a fence round the Torah.
2. Simeon the Righteous was one of the last of the Men of the Great Synagogue. He used to say, "The world is based upon three things: the Torah, Divine service, and the practice of loving kindness."
3. Antigonus (a man) of Socho received [the oral tradition] from Simeon the Righteous. He used to say: "Do not act like servants who serve the master for the sake of payment, but be like servants who serve the master without the expectation of payment, and let the fear of heaven be upon you."
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Each of these three Mishnahs introduce the chain of tradition and then each Mishnah gives us a quotation from each generational "link in the chain." Presumably, these men said many things, but this one quote was chosen to characterize or maybe encapsulate the essence of their religious philosophy.
According to the quotations offered, discern the essence of each of these thinkers and see which, if any, resonate with you. Draw an image of who these people are from these words, and explain which person's understanding resonates with you, and why.