The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
1. Rabbi Judah said, "which are the most eligible paths for man to choose? All such as are an ornament to those who tread therein; and get them honour from man. Be also as careful of the observance of a light precept, as of a weighty one; because thou knowest not the due reward of the precepts, and balance the loss sustained by the omission of a precept against its recompense, and the reward of sin against its loss of happiness. Consider also three things, and thou wilt not transgress. Understand what is above thee: an All-seeing Eye and an Hearing Ear; and that all thy actions are written in a Book."
2. Rabban Gamaliel, the son of Rabban Judah the
[paragraph continues] Prince, said, "that the study of the law and intercourse with the world are commendable together, as the joining of these two annihilates sin; and all the study of the law, that is not supported by business, will become of none effect, and will be the cause of sin; and whoever is engaged in the service of the congregation, ought to act for God's sake, then will the merit of their ancestors support them, and their charitable deeds exist to eternity; and I (God) shall account you deserving of a great recompense, as if ye had actually done it."
3. "Be ye warned of following princes, as they only bestow favours on men for their own interest. They show themselves as friends while men are useful to them; but they will not support a man in time of need."
4. He used to say, "do His will as if it were thine own will, that He may accomplish thy will as if it were His will; abolish thy will for the sake of His will, that He may abolish the will of others for the sake of thy will." Hillel said, "separate not thyself from the congregation, nor have confidence in thyself, until the day of thy death. Judge not thy neighbour till thou art in his situation, neither utter a sentence as if it were incomprehensible, that afterwards may be comprehended, nor say, when I shall have leisure I shall study; mayhap thou wilt not have leisure."
5. He also said, "a boor cannot be fearful of sin, nor can a rustic be a saint; the bashful will not become learned, nor the passionate man a teacher; neither will he, who is much engaged in traffic, become wise; and where there are no men, strive thou to be a man."
6. He having also seen a skull floating on the water, said, "because thou didst make others float, have they floated thee? and the end of those who made thee float will be that they will float."
7. He also said, "he who increases flesh, increases worms; he who increases riches, increases care; he who increases wives, increases witchcraft; he who increases female servants, increases lewdness; he who increases men servants, increases robbery; but he who increases his knowledge
of the law, increases life; he who increases his study in college, increases wisdom; he who increases counsel, increases prudence; he who increases justice, increases peace; if a man have gained a good name, he has gained it for himself; if he have gained the words of the law, he has gained for himself everlasting life in the world to come."
8. Rabbi Jochanan, son of Zaccai, received the oral law from Hillel and Shammai. He used to say, "if thou hast spent much time in the study of the law, yet pride not thyself thereon, because for that wast thou created." Rabbi Jochanan, son of Zaccai, had five disciples, and these are they,Rabbi Eleazar, son of Hyrcanus, Rabbi Joshua, son of Chananya, Rabbi José the priest, Rabbi Simon, son of Nathanael, Rabbi Eleazar, son of Arach. He used thus to estimate their merits: "R. Eleazar, son of Hyrcanus, is as a well-plastered cistern which loses not a drop; Joshua, son of Chananya, happy are his parents; José the priest is a saint; Simon, son of Nathanael, fears sin; Eleazar, son of Arach, is a mighty spring." He used to say, "if all the Sages of Israel were in one scale of the balance, and R. Eleazar, son of Hyrcanus, in the other, he would outweigh them all." Abba Saul said in his name, "if all the Sages of Israel were in one scale, and even R. Eleazar, son of Hyrcanus, with them, and R. Eleazar, son of Arach in the other, he would outweigh them all."
9. He also said to them, "go forth and consider which is the good path for man to cleave to?" To this R. Eleazar answered, "a good eye." R. Joshua said, "a good companion." R. José said, "a good neighbour." R. Simon said, "he who foresees the future." R. Eleazar said, "a good heart." He then said to them, "I prefer the words of R. Eleazar, son of Arach, above yours, as his words include yours." He also said to them, "go forth and consider which is the bad way that man should shun;" to which R. Eleazar said, "a bad eye." R. Joshua said, "a bad companion." R. José said, "a bad neighbour." R. Simon said, "he who borrows and pays not; for when one borrows from man, it is as if he borrows from God, as is said, 'The wicked borroweth and payeth not again; but the righteous
sheweth mercy and giveth.'" 1 R. Eleazar said, "a bad heart." He then said to them, "I prefer the words of R. Eleazar, son of Arach, above yours, as his words include yours."
10. They also said three things. R. Eleazar said, "let the honour of thy companion be as dear to thee as thine own; and be not easily moved to anger; and repent one day before thy death; and warm thyself by the fire of the Sages, and be careful that their coal does not burn thee, for their bite is as the bite of a fox, and their sting is as the sting of a scorpion, and their burn is the burn of a fiery serpent, and all their words are as fiery coals."
11. R. Joshua said, "the bad eye, the bad thought, and envy of companions, cause the death of man."
12. R. José said, "let thy companion's property be as dear to thee as thine own; and prepare thyself to study the law, as it cometh not to thee by inheritance; and let all thine actions be in the name of God."
13. R. Simon said, "be careful of reading the 'Hear,' 2 etc., and the other prayers; and when thou art praying consider not thy prayer as fixed, but as supplicating mercy in the presence of the Supreme, as is said, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil; 3 and be not impious in thine own sight."
14. R. Eleazar said, "be diligent to study the law, that thou mayest know how to confute the Epicurean; consider also in whose presence thou art labouring, for the Master of thy work is faithful to pay thee the reward of thy labour."
15. R. Tarphon said, "the day is short, the labour vast, but the labourers are slothful, though the reward is great, and the Master of the house presseth for despatch."
16. He used to say, "it is not incumbent upon thee to complete the work, neither art thou free to cease from it. If thou hast studied the law, great shall be thy reward; for the Master of thy work is faithful to pay the reward of thy labour; but know that the reward of the righteous is in the world to come."
223:1 Ps. xxxvii. 21.
223:2 Deut. vi. 4, etc.
223:3 Joel ii. 13.