Keen Values

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim & Howard Salamon

Pirkei Avos 6:1

The sages taught in the language of the Mishnah. Blessed be He who chose them and their teaching. Rabbi Meir said: Whoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake, merits many things; not only that but he is worth the whole world. 

The Earth exists solely for man to study and enjoy God's wisdom. The only purpose in Earth’s creation is that it reflects God's wisdom to an intelligent perceiver: man. Inanimate elements, plants, and non-intelligent beasts do not exist for themselves. God brought the animals to Adam to name them, so animals are subservient to man. Sacrifice, and God's provision of animal skins as clothing to Adam and Eve teach this lesson to the absolute degree. The person who learns Torah with no ulterior motive, but solely for the interest in witnessing God’s wisdom, becomes the purpose of Earth’s creation: “he is worth the whole world.”

He is called beloved friend; one that loves God; one that loves humankind; one that gladdens God; one that gladdens humankind. 

As Rabbi Israel Chait taught, a friend is one with whom you share every secret. And when one learns Torah purely for witnessing God's wisdom, he hides nothing between himself and God, the definition of “friendship.” His entire life from beginning to end, from his innermost thoughts to actions is something that he is aware of, and that God is aware of. He uses this bare knowledge of himself to come closer to God. He will admit to God his most embarrassing sins, as hiding from God is ridiculous, and attempts to avoid repentance. His love of God results in the love of God's will, which means loving other people like himself. Gladdening God means he's acting completely in line with God's will, and gladdening mankind is a result of a person who does not oppose other peoples’ egos. His focus is God and His will and all others see this. Thereby, they are not threatened by him as he does not threaten their egos. This allows them to be glad with him.

And the Torah clothes him in humility and reverence

Being clothed means his outward expression reflects no ego, and his inner life is reverence towards God.

And equips him to be righteous, pious, upright and trustworthy

He is only “equipped” to be righteous, because righteousness is not attained in a single act. God told Abraham, “Walk before Me and be complete.” Walking refers to a duration, not a discreet act.

As he has no focus on himself, he does not express, greed or arrogance, but he is righteous, he even leans more towards the extreme by being pious. This refers to his inner morality, but he also expresses external morality by being upright and trustworthy with others. His immediate actions are upright, and his word about future promises is fully trusted. 

Torah keeps him far from sin, and brings him near to merit. 

His absorption in the life of wisdom of Torah taps all his energy away from the instinctual, meaning sins. This results in gaining great merit as every ounce of his energy is directed towards wisdom.

And people benefit from his counsel, sound knowledge, understanding and strength, as it is said, “Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, strength is mine” (Proverbs 8:14).  

One who loves wisdom explores every detail until he exhausts all possibilities of every topic. As such, he can offer the greatest advice and counsel. Through his broad and complete knowledge and understanding he knows all possibilities: which is the most choice path to take, and what leads to the greatest success and avoiding pitfalls. But if one lacks this great love of wisdom, he does not exhaust all areas, and he cannot provide the best advice to others. The reason he is called strong is for two reasons: his excitement fuels his studies with the greatest energy, and his strategic mind yields success after success. That is the definition of strong, when you overpower any opposition. Here the opposition is error.

And it bestows upon him royalty, dominion, and acuteness in judgment.

As this person has such wisdom, he is recognized as being the prince of humanity, and he is exalted over others, because people wish his direction. Being exalted means that others accept his leadership.

To him are revealed the secrets of the Torah

God's providence relates to such a person who loves Torah by rewarding him with greater understanding of Torah’s mysteries. As he becomes the most choice human being, God provides him with the greatest good, that being the mysteries of Torah.

And he is made as an ever-flowing spring and like a river the grows strong. 

This lover of wisdom has an insatiable thirst to see greater wisdom, and he does, discovering and sharing unyielding reservoirs of wisdom. This is because the design of wisdom is such that every new discovery uncovers new questions and new insights, exponentially. He is like a spring with an endless source of water. He is also equated to a river that grows stronger, which is a metaphor for his energies that are invigorated by his new discoveries.

And he becomes modest, long-suffering and forgiving of insult. 

A person who learns for learning sake, does not view himself as significant, and therefore, he is modest internally. He is long-suffering to those who insult him come, and he is forgiving. All these traits are of a person uninvolved in ego whatsoever because his focus is on God and His brilliance.

And it magnifies him and exalts him over everything.

The wise man becomes great and elevated overall others as mankind recognizes wisdom to be the greatest value.