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Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot_Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) 1st Edition
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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)
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
Top Customer Reviews
ETHICS OF THE SAGES is actually Rami's second encounter with the Pirke Avot. An earlier book, WISDOM OF THE JEWISH SAGES, is also an interpretative rendering, but unlike the newer work which aims for a crisper translation with the interpretation on a facing page, WISDOM reads Rami's interpretations directly into the text. WISDOM is still a valuable book though, and it gains from being read side-by-side with ETHICS.
In ETHICS, Rami's singular emphasis on principle over practice coupled with uncompromising non-dualism -- used to such great effect in HASIDIC TALES, THE HEBREW PROPHETS, and THE DIVINE FEMININE -- reaches a new height with this clear and compelling post-modern midrash on a classic ethical tractate.
Rabbi Shapiro loosely translates this text to fit around his dual psychology (don't expect a scholarly treatment of this work here.)
However this book presents a well ordered and clever example of midrashic interpretation of an old text. This is the living spirit of Jewish life and learning itself.
Rabbi Shapiro's translation is original but still traditional. He places the translation on the right-hand pages and his comments on the left side. He uses his comments to give sources for the sayings of the sages and to elucidate them.
While chapter six is not part of the original Pirke but was added later, he includes it in this book. He also includes a 32 page introduction with information about the history of this rabbinical work, words about the translation, and an informative bio of each of the several dozen people mentioned in Pirke. He concludes his book with a six page glossary and two pages of suggested readings. Thus this is a comprehensive and very informative work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Inspiring modern interpretation of this classic Jewish wisdom. A little "new-age" for my taste, but commentary includes many traditional sources. Strongly recommended.Published 13 months ago by amy83031
Excellent introduction to Midrash. Very helpful in deciphering assorted philosophies and points of view.Published on July 16, 2014 by cooperkat10
It gives a feeling of spiritual elevation. It inspires one to strive to become a better human being. It definitely met my expectations!Published on February 14, 2014 by Amazon Customer
I can't comment on the substance since I haven't read most of the book but the Kindle formatting is off. The author's commentary is not in sync with the text. Read morePublished on March 8, 2011 by A. Everett