Pirkei Avos 3:1 – Our Lives, and How We Choose to Live Them

Our third installment contains wisdom from the first Mishnah of the third Perek of Avos.

עֲקַבְיָא בֶן מַהֲלַלְאֵל אוֹמֵר, הִסְתַּכֵּל בִּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים וְאִי אַתָּה בָא לִידֵי עֲבֵרָה. דַּע מֵאַיִן בָּאתָ, וּלְאָן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ, וְלִפְנֵי מִי אַתָּה עָתִיד לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן. מֵאַיִן בָּאתָ, מִטִּפָּה סְרוּחָה, וּלְאָן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ, לִמְקוֹם עָפָר רִמָּה וְתוֹלֵעָה. וְלִפְנֵי מִי אַתָּה עָתִיד לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, לִפְנֵי  מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּאAkavia ben Mahalalel says: Keep your eye on three things, and you will not come to sin: Know from where you came, and to where you are going, and before Whom you are destined to give an account and a reckoning. From where did you come? From a putrid drop. And to where are you going? To a place of dust, worms, and maggots. And before Whom are you destined to give an account and a reckoning? Before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Akavia ben Mahalalel continues the trend of incorporating three nuggets of wisdom into his teaching. He also does a wonderful job of explaining his ideas. Each of these three points will keep one grounded, in addition to keeping them away from sin. They keep one humble in their pursuits.

Everyone starts off identically. True, some are born into better scenarios than others, our true beginning, as alluded to in the Mishnah, is the same. Additionally, no matter what we make of our lives while we live them, our ultimate demise is inevitable. We take nothing with us when we make our exit. And once we depart, we’ll have an appointment that is significantly important. We will have to answer for the mistakes, shortcomings, and blurred judgement in our lives. Will we be ready for this detailed account?

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