Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 27


1. Rabbi said, Which is the right course that a man should choose for himself? Whatsoever is a pride to him that pursues it, (and) brings him honour from men. And

p. 28

be attentive to a light precept as to a grave, for thou knowest not the assigned reward of precepts,; and reckon the loss for a duty against its gain, and the gain by a transgression against its loss. And consider three things, and thou wilt not fall into the hands of transgression: know what is above thee-a seeing eye, and a hearing ear, and all thy deeds written in a book.

2. Rabban Gamliel, son of R. Jehudah ha-Nasi, said,

p. 29

Excellent is Thorah study together with worldly business, for the practice of them both puts iniquity out of remembrance; and all Thorah without work must fail at length, and occasion iniquity. And let all who are employed with the congregation act with them in the name of Heaven, for the merit of their fathers sustains them, and their righteousness stands for ever. And ye yourselves shall have reward reckoned unto you as if ye had wrought.

3. Be cautious with (those in) authority, for they let not a man approach them but for their own purposes; and they appear like friends when it is to their advantage, and stand not by a man in the hour of his need.

4. He used to say, Do His will as if it were thy will, that He may do thy will as if it were His will. Annul thy will before His will, that He may annul the will of others before thy will.

5. Hillel said, Separate not thyself from the congregation, and trust not in thyself until the day of thy death; and judge

p. 30

not thy friend until thou comest into his place; and say not of a word which may be heard that in the end it shall be heard; and say not, When I have leisure I will study; perchance thou mayest not have leisure.

6. He used to say, No boor is a sinfearer; nor is the vulgar pious; nor is the shamefast apt to learn, nor the passionate

p. 31

to teach; nor is every one that has much traffic wise. And in a place where there are no men endeavour to be a man.

7. Moreover he saw a skull which floated on the face of the water, and he said to it, Because thou drownedst they drowned thee, and in the end they that drowned thee shall be drowned.

8. He used to say, More flesh, more worms: more treasures, more care: more maidservants, more lewdness: more menservants, more theft: more women, more witchcrafts:

p. 32

more Thorah, more life: more wisdom, more scholars: more righteousness, more peace. He who has gotten a good name has gotten it for himself. He who has gotten to himself words of Thorah, has gotten to himself the life of the world to come.

9. Rabban Jochanan ben Zakai received from Hillel and

p. 33

from Shammai. He used to say, If thou hast practised Thorah much, claim not merit to thyself, for thereunto wast thou created.

10. Five disciples were there to Rabban Jochanan 'ben Zakai, and these were they: R. Li'ezer ben Hyrqanos, and R. Jehoshua' ben Chananiah, and R. Jose the Priest, and

p. 34

R. Shime'on ben Nathanael, and R. Ele'azar ben 'Arak. He used to recount their praise: Eli'ezer ben Hyrqanos is a plastered cistern, which loseth not a drop; Jehoshua' ben Chananiah--happy is she that bare him; Jose the Priest is pious; Shim'eon ben Nathanael is a sinfearer; Ele'azar ben 'Arak is a welling spring.

11. He used to say, If all the wise of Israel were in a scale of the balance, and Eli'ezer ben Hyrqanos in the other scale, he would outweigh them all. Abba Shaul said in his name, If all the wise of Israel were in a scale of the balance, and Eli'ezer ben Hyrqanos with them, and Ele'azar ben 'Arak in the other scale, he would outweigh them all.

p. 35

12. He said to them, Go and see which Is the good way that a man should cleave to. Rabbi Li'ezer said, A good eye: R. Jehoshua' said, A good friend: and R. Jose said, A good neighbour: and R. Shime'on said, He that foresees what is to be: R. La'zar said, A good heart. He said to them, I approve the words of Ele'azar ben 'Arak rather than your words, for his words include your words.

13. He said to them, Go and see which is the evil way that a man should shun. R. Li'ezer said, An evil eye: and R. Jehoshua' said, An evil companion: and R. Jose said, An evil neighbour: and R. Shime'on said, He that borroweth and repayeth not--he that borrows from man is the same as if he borrowed from God (blessed is He)--for it is said, The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again, but the righteous is merciful and giveth: R. La'zar said, An evil heart. He said to them, I approve the words of Ele'azar ben 'Arak

p. 36

rather than your words, for your words are included in his words.

14. And they said (each) three things. R. Li'ezer said, Let the honour of thy friend be dear unto thee as thine own; and be not easily provoked; and repent one day before thy death. And warm thyself before the fire of the wise, but beware of their embers, perchance thou mayest be singed, for their bite is the bite of a fox, and their sting the sting of a scorpion, and their hiss the hiss of a fiery-serpent, and all their words are as coals of fire.

p. 37

15. R. Jehoshua' said, An evil eye, and the evil nature,

p. 38

and hatred of the creatures put a man out of the world.

16. R. Jose said, Let the property of thy friend be precious unto thee as thine own; set thyself to learn Thorah, for it is not an heirloom unto thee; and let all thy actions be to the name of Heaven.

17. R. Shime'on said, Be careful in reading the Shema' and in Prayer; and when thou prayest, make not thy prayer

p. 39

an ordinance, but an entreaty before God, blessed is He, for it is said, For God is compassionate and easily-entreated,

p. 40

longsuffering, and plenteous in grace; and be not wicked unto thyself.

18. R. La'zar said, Be diligent to learn Thorah, wherewith thou mayest make answer to Epicurus; and know before whom thou toilest; and who is the Master of thy work.

19. R. Tarphon said, The day is short, and the task is

p. 41

great, and the workmen are sluggish, and the reward is much, and the Master of the house is urgent. He said, It is not for thee to finish the work, nor art thou free to desist therefrom; if thou hast learned much Thorah, they give thee much reward; and faithful is the Master of thy work, who will pay thee the reward of thy work, and know that the recompence of the reward of the righteous is for the time to come.

Next: Chapter III.