Pirkei Avot, “Ethics of the Fathers,” states in chapter 6:6: “The Torah is acquired in 48 ways.” This week: Way #33, “Loving integrity”
If I love integrity — another translation of ha-meisharim is justice — I acquire the Torah because I penetrate to its purpose. With the Torah, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees, easy to get caught up in the details, the law codes and commentaries and miss their purpose.
I walk out of a store and later see that I was not charged for an item.
I am complimented for something I did not do.
I come into money that the tax authorities will never know about.
I sell something, and it has a minor defect.
I malign someone, and it is easy to make it seem that someone else did it.
Do I overlook such matters, or do I do the right thing? If I seek to acquire the Torah, I do what the Torah requires, since the price of integrity is immeasurably smaller than my goal: the acquisition of the Torah. The truth is, if the Torah is what I really want, I don’t even feel I am paying a price for acting with integrity.
Integrity also means not being cheated. Rabbi Yosef Yozel Hurvitz (1849-1919) said: “He who cannot buy a load of cordwood without being cheated is also lacking in moral and spiritual perfection.”
The 33rd way to acquire the Torah: Loving Integrity.
Way #1, Study; Way #2, Listen; Way #3, Articulate Speech; Way #4, Understanding of the Heart; Way #5, An Intelligent Heart; Way #6, Awe; Way #7, Fear; Way #8, Humility; Way #9a, Joy; Way #9b, Purity; Way #10, Serving the Sages; Way #11, Interaction with colleagues; Way #12, Exchanges with students; Way #13, Deliberation; Way #14, Scripture; Way #15a, Mishnah; Way #15b, Limited Business Activity; Way #16a, Limited Marital Relations; Way #16b, Portion Control; Way #17, Limited Pleasure; Way #18, All nighters; Way #19, Limited Conversation; Way #20, Limited Entertainment; Way #21, Slowness to anger; Way #22, A good heart; Way #23, Faith in the sages; Way #24, Acceptance of suffering; Way #25, Knowing one’s place; Way #26, Happiness with one’s lot; Way #27, Have a filter; Way #28, Claim no credit; Way #29, Being beloved; Way #30, Loving the Omnipresent; Way #31, Loving G-d’s creatures; Way #31b, Loving acts of charity; Way #32, Loving reproof