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Jewish Media Review -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.