WHAT DO YOU THINK?
According to the commentary, this famous adage in Pirke Avot encourages us to join the chain of the covenantal legacy and contribute our share toward perfecting the world. Rabbi Tarfon tells us that, while no single person or generation is responsible to perfect the world, each person or generation is obliged to do its part.
Why do you think Rabbi Tarfon teaches that no one person is responsible for finishing “the work of perfecting the world”? If we “are not free to desist,” what are we actually required to do in and for this world?
What life lessons can be learned from Rabbi Tarfon’s outlook?
What role do you play in the multigenerational task of “finishing the work”? Give an example of how you are involved in helping to change or improve the world.
How does this quotation compare with the Talmudic statement by Choni about intergenerational planting: “I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise I am planting for my children”? What is similar and what is different in these messages?
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Each image calls out to us to examine it, to note our thoughts and feelings, and relate these impressions to the quotation. Often clues in the artwork suggest meaning and invite interpretation.
Illustrator and designer Bob Gill depicts Rabbi Tarfon’s teaching with a compelling and thought-provoking image.
How does the image present the quotation? Was this how you interpreted the quotation without the image?
Why do you think the artist chose to illustrate the world in this way? Does the form remind you of familiar games or toys?
Why do you think Gill made the structure look as if it may topple, instead of resting on a firm foundation?
What do you think the hand represents? Why do you think it is important to show a hand adding the next piece? Is this the final piece of the structure?
Copyright© 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation
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