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The Mishna at first glance seems to be jumble of ideas tossed together. Truly some edition separate Hillel’s lesson however in the Vilna Shas edition the two Rabbis’ lessons are joined. Since the Mishna was originally oral it would be necessary in order to preserve the text’s integrity the Mishnayoth would be arranged to facilitate memorization and not haphazardly. Consequently there should be a common thread connecting the various teachings.
Rabbam Gamliel‘s teaching on the surface seems to contradict Antignous’ teaching in Chapter 1:3 to serve G-D in a spirit of altruism. It would seem this Mishna is teaching one should align with G-D so that G-D side with one against one’s opponents. However Rabbinu Yonah ZT’L ZY’A explains what the Mishna is saying is one should bring one’s will, one’s aptitudes and attitudes consistent with what G-D wants. One needs to engage the physical world in the context of D-vine service. Even a cursory examination of Jewish Law, Halacha reveals a manner in which one dresses, tends to one’s personal needs, food, work, business and even conflict. As Rabbi Gamliel Rabbinowitz Shlita of Jerusalem taught one needs to look in the Code of Jewish Law and ask do I conform to this standard? and if not “fix!”.
It is important point out the Mishna focuses more on attitude than just action. Observing the commandments is not enough but one needs to shift one’s thinking. D-vine service often involves in confronting one’s predilections that are contrary to G-D’s will and channeling what is contrary by bringing it in line with the D-vine design. A popular understanding of Akedat Yitzchak (Bereshith 22:1-19) this was Avraham Avinu’s greatest test because G-D called upon Avraham to fulfill His will by going against Avraham kind and gentle nature. Indeed Rabbinu Yonah suggests one become deeply conscious of G-D’s presence and will that one eventually becomes the embodiment of G-D’s will. Consequently the rest of Rabban Gamliel’s teaching follows that when one becomes completely identified with G-D’s will one’s opposition effectively are G-D’s enemies as well. So instead of contradicting Antignous’ lesson the present Mishnah moves on to the next level.
Certainly, the awareness Rabban Gamliel is advocating cannot be developed overnight which offers insight in to Hillel’s teachings. There is an inherent danger in one striving to align oneself with G-D’s will, one should not lose tolerance for others who have not reached one’s level of religious awareness. Therefore, one should connect with the community (except when the community rebels against G-D’s will). Similarly, even if one has exerted great effort to develop one’s religious consciousness and has reached elevated spiritual levels do not become overly assured about oneself teaches Rabbinu Yonah comments Hillel is addressing when a leader someone generally acknowledged as greater than oneself acting poorly one should refrain from criticizing asserting “if it were me I would have behaved better” unless one judges with empathy. Similarly one should avoid naivete and remain circumspect about one says.
Further vigilance includes dedication and diligence. One should not allow the demands one’s time overtake one’s obligation to learn Torah. Rabbinu Yona emphasizes that one does not know what any day may bring without dogged dedication to Torah study one could go days or weeks or longer without Torah study a circumstance that serves to compromise one’s hard won G-D consciousness.
Now it should be clear how the Mishna is a coherent whole. The idyl is to become so G-D aware that one’s behavior becomes synonymous with G-D’s will to the extent one’s only enemies are those who reject Torah. Reaching such a refined level is difficult but not unobtainable through vigilance, empathy and dedication