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Fatherly advice from the first century

16 January 2009

This week, learning Gemara (Pesachim 112a), I learned:

Rabbi Akiva commanded his son, Rabbi Yehoshua, seven things. “My son:

  1. “Don’t sit and learn in the high part of the city.
  2. “And don’t live in a city whose leaders are Torah scholars.
  3. “And don’t enter your house suddenly [i.e. without announcing your presence]; all the more so your neighbor’s house.
  4. “And don’t go without shoes on your feet.
  5. “Eat early in the summer, before it gets hot, and in the winter, before it gets cold.
  6. “And make your Sabbath like a weekday rather than depending on other people.
  7. “And be on good terms with someone who is lucky.”

Rav Pappa said [regarding that lucky man], “Don’t buy from him and don’t sell to him, but rather, enter into a partnership with him.” But since Rav Shmuel bar Yitzchak said, “What is the meaning of ‘You have blessed the work of his hands’ [Job 1:10]? Every one of Job’s dropped coins was blessed”, it’s OK to buy from him and sell to him.

I asked my chevruta how his employer,, is doing. “Pretty good,” he said, “since all the Torah scholars are selling everything else they own so they can keep having shoes on their feet.” Should I buy sandals or stock?