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Ethics of the Sages


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Table of Contents

Introduction ix A Word on Translation xix Biographical Sketches of the Rabbis in Pirke Avot xxv Prologue 3 Chapter One 5 Chapter Two 19 Chapter Three 37 Chapter Four 61 Chapter Five 79 Chapter Six 111 Epilogue 139 Glossary 140 Suggested Reading 146

About the Author

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions, is an award-winning storyteller, poet and essayist. He is author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, Recovery-The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained (all SkyLight Paths), among other books. Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics: Writing-The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World


Pirke Avot has always been my favorite book in the vast sea of rabbinic literature. It is a remarkable collection of relevant proverbs on how best to live an ethical, sensible, reasoned life. Rabbi Shapiro's comments help the reader to apply the ethical wisdom of the Rabbis to our own lives. The author writes: "When you realize God is all, you engage all as God. You meet each being as a manifestation of the One Being and treat all things with justice, compassion, and humility. This is the politics of Olam HaBa [the World to Come] that Pirke Avot promotes." There are thousands of commentaries on Pirke Avot, so why another one? I have a strong predilection toward the writings of Rami Shapiro. See his other books also published by SkyLight Illuminations, and you will catch his particular style, theology and philosophy. He tends to mix some Eastern religious views into his writings, but nothing that would contradict Judaism-in fact it can only enhance what Judaism brings to the table. Those who reject the Buddhist view that God is everything may not be totally comfortable with his views, but we can all learn from his unusual perspective. What he brings to the book are ideas that a reader will not find in other commentaries, and therefore collectors of books on Pirke Avot (like me) must add this important addition to their library. Rabbi Shapiro focuses on the central themes in Pirke Avot-study, kindness, compassion, showing us the contemporary significance of their timeless wisdom and distills this Jewish wisdom compendium not as a book about ethics but a practical guide to living ethically today. Once you have tasted this excellent book, you'll want to turn to Shapiro's other excellent books on Hasidic tales, the Hebrew prophets and others. -- Dov Peretz Elkins * Jewish Media Review *

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