Pirkei Avot: In the Image Mishnah 2:16

Synagogue Attic, Riga, 1991 © Zion Ozeri

1) How do you interpret this photograph?

2) What do you think is represented by the huge stacks of books?

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

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה...

He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it...


1) Why do you think Rabbi Tarfon feels it is important to say that even though you do not have to finish, you still have to do the work?

2) Think of a time when a task felt too great to possibly finish. How did that make you feel? How did you react?

3) Can you think of "work" that you have started, but not completed? What is that work, and do you expect to finish?


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

1) What does "work" look like in your life or in the lives of those around you?

2) Where do you see work that can only be started, but not finished?