Sunday, May 22, 2005

פרקי אבות - Ethics of the Fathers?

פרקי אבות is normally translated as Ethics of the Fathers, is this correct?

In fact, it is a machlokes. Rashi on the last mishna in פרקי אבות (which isn't really a mishna ואכמ"ל) comments that it is called אבות because it brings down the opinions of the אבות הגדולים, the great chachamim from Moshe through the אנשי כנסת הגדולה. Therefore to translate אבות as fathers is reasonable, although another word might be more appropriate.

Other mefarshim however, say that אבות is being used here like אבות מלאכות on shabbos and אבות נזיקין. In other words אבות meaning principles or building blocks. This name seems to fit better because this is really what פרקי אבות is, principles for living a torah true life.

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