Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: "The scholar is not only a man who has studied but also the personification of Torah itself."

Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

There is no better description of the qualities of the scholar than you can find in Pirke Avot:  

Torah is greater than priesthood or monarchy, since monarchy calls for thirty qualities and priesthood for twenty-four, while Torah demands forty-eight attributes:

Audible study,

distinct pronunciation,

understanding and discernment of the heart,





ministering to the sages,

attaching oneself to colleagues,

discussion with disciples,


knowledge of the Bible and of Mishnah,

moderation in business,

moderation in intercourse with the world,

moderation in pleasure,

in sleep,

in conversation,

in laughter,

by forbearance,

by a good heart,

by faith in the wise,

by acceptance of chastisement,

by recognizing one’s place,

by rejoicing in one’s portion,

by putting a fence to one’s words,

by claiming no merit for oneself,

by being beloved,

by loving the Almighty,

by loving mankind,

by loving justice,

rectitude and reproof,

by avoiding honor,

by not boasting of one’s learning,

by not delighting in giving decisions,

by bearing the yoke with others,

by judging one’s fellow favorably,

by showing him the truth,

by leading him to peace,

by being composed in one’s study,

by asking,


hearing and adding thereto,

by learning with the object of teaching,

by learning with the object of practicing,

by making one’s master wiser,

fixing attention upon his discourse,

by quoting things in the name of their author. 

This list clearly demonstrates that the scholar must be a well-rounded personality. 

When we understand the stringent demands made of the scholar we can also comprehend the qualities attributed by scholars themselves to those of their rank.

The scholar is not only a man who has studied but also the personification of Torah itself.

To honor him is to honor the Torah.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz