Guest Posting By Rabbi Dovid Sears - Learning Pirkei Avos During The Weeks Of Sefirah
From the forthcoming Breslov Pirkei Avos
Reb Noson states:
It is customary to study Pirkei Avos during the days of counting the Sefirah in preparation for the festival of Shavuos. The first mishnah begins with the declaration that Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua, and thus from generation to generation.
This teaches us that the tikkun of every individual -- his or her personal "Receiving of the Torah" -- depends upon the true tzaddikim of each generation, all of whom received the Torah from Moshe.
Moshe represents the upper point of the letter alef, which is the paradigm of the loftiest perceptions of Godliness; and the Tikkunei Zohar declares, "There is an extension of Moshe from each generation to the next…"
This may be understood from the verse, "Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, Your judgments are like the vast depths; man and beast do you save, O God" (Psalms 36:7).
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God - alludes to the upper point of the alef, which is highly exalted.
Your judgments are like the vast depths - alludes to the lower point of the alef. For the tzaddik who has attained the loftiest spiritual plane, whose righteousness has ascended to the level called "mountains of God," attains wholeness and perfection only when he can illuminate those on the lowest levels, symbolized by the lower point of the alef.
This corresponds to Your judgments are like the vast depths. That is, the tzaddik's compassion extends even to a person guilty of such spiritual damage that he deserves to be cast down to the abyss, may the Merciful One spare us - even one on the level of a beast. Thus, the tzaddik may illuminate him and bind him to the upper point, demonstrating that God is present there, too.
This unification creates the letter alef, and completes the paradigm of man. Therefore, the verse concludes man and beast do you save, O God. (Likkutei Halakhos, Betziyas HaPas 5:14)
Reb Noson alludes to the paradigm of the "Man Seated on the Throne" in the Merkavah vision of Ezekiel, in keeping with Likutey Moharan I, 6, the lesson from Rebbe Nachman on which this excerpt from Likkutei Halakhos is based. Reb Noson goes on to state that this spiritual transformation is the main theme of the Sefirah period. Particularly during these seven weeks betweens Pesach and Shavuos, one strives to refine the animalistic aspect of one's nature, corresponding to the Omer offering, and attain the level of a true human being. The study of Pirkei Avos helps to guide us toward this goal.