Mendel’s father, Rabbi Yisroel Rubin, has a rich novel interpretation of this Mishna in the 6th chapter of Pirkei Avot, which is otherwise troubling to us Chabad folks, as Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma seems to be “a Rabbi against Outreach”!

The Mishna in Ethics of the Fathers (6:9) relates:

Said Rabbi Yosi Ben Kisma: I was once walking on the road, when a certain man met me. He greeted me, “Shalom,” and I responded: “Shalom.” He said, “Rabbi, from which place are you?” and I said to him: “I am from a great city of scholars and sages.” He said: “Rabbi, if you will live with us in our place, I will give you a million dinars, gold, silver, precious stones and pearls.” I replied: “Even if you give me all the silver and gold, precious stones and pearls in the world, I will dwell only in a place of Torah…”

In English, see Rabbi Israel Rubin’s “Small Town Jewry” article on

for much more in-depth and details, in scholarly rabbinic Hebrew, here’s a 15-page PDF of Rabbi Rubin’s in-depth research and insight into this whole R’ Yosi Ben Kisma issue with lots of background and Talmudic archeology and intertwined connections. A fascinating piece, explains a number of teachings and stories in the Talmud, and is a total transformation of what is usually thought of R’ Yosi Ben Kisma!