Pirkei Avot (Literally, “Chapters of the Fathers”, and oftentimes called “Avot”) is a tractate of the Mishna composed of ethical maxims of the Mishnaic period. This little tractate contains five chapters and is often called “Ethics of the Fathers”.
The text of this edition of the Avot is a paraphrased translation in idiomatic language from the writings of H.H. Catholicos Patriarch +Mar Dalin II and various other translations of the same. The numbering of the “verses” is different than that of the traditional Avot, following that of +Mar Dalin II. +Mar Dalin III included the Pirkei Avot in his edition of the Peshitta.
1. Mar-Yah gave Mosha the Torah at Sinai and Mosha handed it down to Yoshua. Yoshua handed it down to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets entrusted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. The Men of the Great Assembly would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgement. Establish many talmidim. And build a fence of protection around Torah.
2. The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and good deeds.
3. Do not be like a slave, who serves his master for the sake of payment. Rather, be like a slave who serves his master not expecting any type of payment. And having this right attitude will cause you to have a greater reverence for that which is holy.
4. You should manage your home as a gathering place for wise teachers in the Way of Mshikha; apply the dust of their shoes to those of your own, and drink heartily of their words, for what they teach, being from God, are like streams of refreshing water.
5. Keep the doors of your home open to all peoples, and permit the underprivileged to become members of your household. And do not spend time speaking of unnecessary topics in conversation and do not share in the gossip of the women. One who shares in the gossip of others causes a great evil to himself, even to the point of neglecting the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits a field of waste.
6. Your teacher should be your friend, and you should think good of all people as far as possible.
7. Keep a close distance from all those who wish to ruin your good habits, do not cleave to a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in justice.
8. Love work, be opposed to those who wish to lord over others, and avoid over confidence with one’s government.
9. Scholars, be cautious with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements where they will alter your words to suit their own evil purposes. The talmidim who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and they will thus be destroyed, and all things that Wisdom calls Holy and Sacred will be desecrated.
10. Be like the talmidim of Aaron. Aaron was one who loved peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loved all creation and drew them close to Torah.
11. One who wishes to promote his own name will end up destroying it. One who does not increase, diminishes. One who does not learn is not deserving of the Life. And anyone who diminishes the crown of Torah and teaches others the same shall be called least in the Kingdom.
12. If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
13. Make the study of Torah as an eternal light within your soul. Say little and do much. Let the light of Torah shine forth from your soul to all peoples. Keep doubt far from your heart and mind; and do not become accustomed to pinching from your own tithes.
14. By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. As is stated in Zekhari’a 8:16, “You shall administer truth and judgement of peace at your gates.”