Pirkei Avos


'Rebbe said, "what is the proper path that a person should choose

for himself?" ' [2.1]


The idea of this Mishnah as it applies to the service of HaShem is as

follows. There are some mitzvos and midos that a person's inherent

nature will aid him in doing. For example if he is by nature one who

has a desire to learn, that will help him so that he will be able to

learn Torah*. However there are some mitzvos that go contrary to a

person's nature and for them he must strengthen himself in order to

perform these mitzvos.


We find in Chazal, 'If your friend needs you to help him take a load

off his animal and your enemy needs you to help him put a load on his

animal, it is a mitzvah to help your enemy to load his animal so that

you overcome your Yetzer HaRah' [which would influence you to ignore

your enemy.] Even though this mitzvah that is contrary to your nature

is just a little more difficult then the one that is in accord with

your nature, it is still better and more acceptable to HaShem,

because through it you are overcoming your Yetzer HaRah.


This is the meaning of what Rebbe said, "What is the proper path that

a person should choose for himself?" i.e. which is the way for a

person to act that will better purify him? He goes on to explain

these two ideas. There is a way that 'brings honor from himself.'

This refers to those things which one's nature helps him to do.

There is a way that brings 'honor to him from other men.' This refers

to him purifying his physical nature, and doing those mitzvos that

are contrary to his nature.


Following this it says, 'Be careful of a light mitzvah as you would a

more difficult one.' This means that because it is contrary to your

nature, it is [in your eyes] a light mitzvah. Even so if you will

overcome your nature it will be very special to HaShem.  'Because you

don't know what the reward is for the mitzvos.' This means that this

act is contrary to your nature, and through it you will subjugate

your Yetzer HaRah, which makes it more significant before HaShem.

(p. 85 sefer Toras Avos teachings of the Rebbes of Lechovitz, Kobrin

and Solonim.  This was a teaching of Rebbe Avraham of Solonim.)


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