Although the Alshich did not compose a commentary on Pirkei Avos itself, in the course of his explanations of the verses and narratives of Tanach he expounds on many of the Mishnayos contained in Avos. Employing the same incisive questioning and analytical scalpel that he applies to whole chapters and individual verses in his commentary on Scripture, the Alshich interprets these Mishnayos, paying meticulous attention to numerous seemingly inconsequential details of the written text. He reveals their underlying structure and meaning, while emphasizing the moral and religious lessons to be derived from each Mishnah. Among the Alshich’s themes are many of the principles and key concepts of Jewish faith, including the afterlife, reward and punishment, hashgachah pratis (Divine intervention in human affairs), proper study habits, and the correct path to a Torah way of life.
The Alshich’s flowery language, enigmatic style, and frequent borrowing of phrases from Scripture and the Talmud have made it difficult for all but the most accomplished Torah students to reap the full benefits of his brilliant writing. This new adaptive translation makes his work more accessible to the English reader. It includes copious footnotes that identify the Alshich’s sources, extensive explanations to clarify the more difficult passages, an explanatory foreword, and a thoroughly researched biography.