Pirkei Avot: In the Image Mishnah 1:5

Kitchen, Kiev, Ukraine, 1991 © Zion Ozeri

יוֹסֵי בֶן יוֹחָנָן אִישׁ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם אוֹמֵר, יְהִי בֵיתְךָ פָתוּחַ לִרְוָחָה, וְיִהְיוּ עֲנִיִּים בְּנֵי בֵיתֶךָ...

Yose ben Yochanan (a man) of Jerusalem used to say: Let thy house be wide open, and let the poor be members of thy household...

1) What do you notice about the woman's surroundings?

2) How do you think the photographer came to make this image? What might be the relationship between the photographer and the woman photographed?

3) What other title and caption or midrash might you suggest for this image?


Yose ben Yochanan was the head of the Sanhedrin, the highest rabbinic court in the land, during the 2nd century BCE. This Mishnah records his prescriptions for living a moral life:

1) The Mishnah recommends that your house be open to all, but Yose ben Yochanan doesn't give any guidance on what exactly that looks like. How might we make our homes more open? What are the practical steps we can take?

2) Yose ben Yochanan goes on to recommend that the poor be included as a part of one's household. What do you think is the difference between providing for the poor by giving charity or distributing food, as opposed to including them as part of your household?

3) In what ways do you see aspects of this text reflected in the image? What does the image evoke for you that isn't echoed by the Mishnah?


Help build a digital scrapbook by adding your own image or Midrash, with a caption, here, in response to these questions:

1) What does opening your home or sharing your resources with others look like in your own life?

2) What advice or instruction would you give to others about how best to include those with fewer resources in our lives?