Pirke Avot 4:2

Ben Azzai said:

Be eager to fulfill the smallest duty and flee from transgression;

for one duty induces another and one transgression induces another transgression.

The reward of a duty is a duty, the reward of one transgression is another transgression.

This one seems fairly obvious, yet it deserves some careful thought and attention.

Rush to do a duty / mitzvah / good deed / commandment.  Look for opportunities, even seek them out, and then do them eagerly.  Let us fill our days with positive actions.  And at the same time – flee from distractions / sins / temptations / wrong-doing.   Almost always we can see these negative things coming, almost always we are aware when we are venturing into a behavioral “bad neighborhood”.  We can, and should, turn around and head elsewhere.


Because we create and live within our habits and customary choices.  If we have made a habit of considering the needs of others, if we are used to offering help to those in need, if we normally spend our time doing good things – then in idle time and in difficult times our habits will kick in.  We will, in times of doubt, be able to trust our judgments and instincts.

Equally so, if we have made a lifetime of bad choices and gotten familiar with transgressions – well, in idle times and difficult times we are likely to go down those paths again.  We don’t HAVE to, but we are likely to make the same bad judgments.

The “reward”, or result, of doing one good deed is the opportunity to do another.  The “reward”, or result,  of doing some bad thing is the opportunity to do another one.