Everyone can learn from this week’s mishnah

Dear Families,
The Mishnah of the Week is something that all ages can learn from. It reminds us to look deeper, beyond what we see on the outside. Young children can begin to understand this but it is most important for young teens.
Rabbi Meir says:
Do not look at the jug, but at what is in it;
there is a new jug filled with old wine,
and an old jug that does not even contain new wine. — Pirke Avot 4:27

Questions to Ask:

  • Rabbi Meir was a wonderful teacher who really learned from all people. When his teacher was called a heretic, Rabbi Meir was said to have the ability to “take the fruit and discard the peel.” What does that mean? Can we really learn from all people?
  • This mishnah seems very simple but that means we need to look very carefully. What does it mean to not look at the jug but at what is inside? How do we do this all the time in our daily lives? Talk with your children about how we sometimes are fooled by the way things look on the outside. What are some examples?
  • What does it mean to have a new jug with old wine? Is that what you would expect? Why or why not? Why would a new jug have old wine in it?
  • The mishnah then says “an old jug that does ‘not even’ contain new wine.” Why such strange words? What could the old jug contain?
  • Which would you choose — the old jug or the new jug? Why?
  • Is this mishnah the same as or different from this common saying: “Do not judge a book by its cover”?
  • Spend time talking with your children about different examples of this mishnah. Does this apply to people as well? How?
  • How can we apply this mishnah to our lives every day?

Shalom….from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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