In Pirkei Avos (Ethics of Our Fathers), we are provided a timeless collection of wisdom teachings and sayings from the Rabbi’s and Sages. Teachings that are rooted in the torah and elevated for the refinement of our spiritual being.
In Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avos there is a brief anecdote that I would like to share, which places students in one of four categories.
Ch 5.18 describes four types of students who sit before the sages: A sponge, a funnel, a strainer and a sieve: a sponge, which absorbs [remembers] everything; a funnel, which lets all the information in and just as soon as it enters, they instantly allow all the information to run out [retaining nothing]; a strainer, which lets the wine flow through retaining the sediment (the minor points) and misses all the major, weightier points of the message or teaching; and a sieve, which allows the flour dust to pass through and retains the fine flour.
The sieve has the ability to filter out the sedimentary parts and bits, retaining only the finest flour.
The sponge soaks up everything and remembers, but is unable to process the finer points and put them into action. The funnel will say, “That was a powerful teaching, get the CD”. While they heard the teaching and were fully engaged, they are unable to transmit what they learned.
The strainer collects what they believe are the weightier parts of the teaching, but in the end, they missed the wine and captured the sediment.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law; judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Matthew 23:23
I am believing that you will be like the sieve, in every facet of your lives. Possessing the ability to recognize the weightier matters in torah, in business, in personal relationships, in every place you need to excel and take dominion (the good kind). I pray that you retain the finer points and replicate and transmit what you have learned to others, for the benefit of man and the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Man (Adam) was created from the finest dust particles in the earth… Not the common dust of the ground, but stardust, the stuff of the cosmos–all the elements of creation that exist in the earth and our universe.
May you be always the student, who hails from the lineage of Adam, made of the finest particles of the universe, increase in discernment, spiritual reasoning, insight, knowing what to keep and what to cast off, recognizing and retaining the finest flour of which you yourself were created!
Pirkei Avos by Artscroll is available online via: https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot?lang=bi
But Who Can Resist an Old Fashioned Book in the Hand!
This priceless collection of teachings on honesty, morality, ethical teachings, is quick and easy to read and re-read and refer to as a good companion to Torah Study. There are many treasures to be found, such as it’s focus on character improvement and self-refinement.