Ecclesiastes 6
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  There is an evil I have observed under the sun, and a grave one it is for man:

א  יֵשׁ רָעָה אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ וְרַבָּה הִיא עַל־הָאָדָם׃

2  that Hashem sometimes grants a man riches, property, and wealth, so that he does not want for anything his appetite may crave, but Hashem does not permit him to enjoy it; instead, a stranger will enjoy it. That is futility and a grievous ill.

EESH a-SHER yi-ten LO ha-e-lo-HEEM O-sher un-kha-SEEM v’-kha-VOD v’-ay-NE-nu kha-SAYR l’-naf-SHO mi-KOL a-sher yit-a-VEH v’-LO yash-lee-TE-nu ha-e-lo-HEEM le-e-KHOL mi-ME-nu KEE EESH nokh-REE yo-kh’-LE-nu ZEH HE-vel va-kho-LEE RA HU

ב  אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִתֶּן־לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים עֹשֶׁר וּנְכָסִים וְכָבוֹד וְאֵינֶנּוּ חָסֵר לְנַפְשׁוֹ מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר־יִתְאַוֶּה וְלֹא־יַשְׁלִיטֶנּוּ הָאֱלֹהִים לֶאֱכֹל מִמֶּנּוּ כִּי אִישׁ נָכְרִי יֹאכֲלֶנּוּ זֶה הֶבֶל וָחֳלִי רָע הוּא׃

6:2   Hashem sometimes grants a man riches

The Hebrew word for ‘riches’ is osher, spelled with the letter ayin (עושר).  The Hebrew word for ‘happiness’ is also osher, but spelled with the letter alef (אושר).  While the two words are homophones, they are not synonymous.  Some people mistakenly believe that wealth leads to happiness.  The Sages (“Ethics of the Fathers” 4:1), however, teach the exact opposite.  “Who is wealthy?  One who is happy with his lot.”  Only when a person is happy and satisfied with the material possessions that he has, no matter their value, can he be considered truly wealthy.Comment

3  Even if a man should beget a hundred children and live many years—no matter how many the days of his years may come to, if his gullet is not sated through his wealth, I say: The stillbirth, though it was not even accorded a burial, is more fortunate than he.

ג  אִם־יוֹלִיד אִישׁ מֵאָה וְשָׁנִים רַבּוֹת יִחְיֶה וְרַב שֶׁיִּהְיוּ יְמֵי־שָׁנָיו וְנַפְשׁוֹ לֹא־תִשְׂבַּע מִן־הַטּוֹבָה וְגַם־קְבוּרָה לֹא־הָיְתָה לּוֹ אָמַרְתִּי טוֹב מִמֶּנּוּ הַנָּפֶל׃

4  Though it comes into futility and departs into darkness, and its very name is covered with darkness,

ד  כִּי־בַהֶבֶל בָּא וּבַחֹשֶׁךְ יֵלֵךְ וּבַחֹשֶׁךְ שְׁמוֹ יְכֻסֶּה׃

5  though it has never seen or experienced the sun, it is better off than he—

ה  גַּם־שֶׁמֶשׁ לֹא־רָאָה וְלֹא יָדָע נַחַת לָזֶה מִזֶּה׃

6  yes, even if the other lived a thousand years twice over but never had his fill of enjoyment! For are not both of them bound for the same place?

ו  וְאִלּוּ חָיָה אֶלֶף שָׁנִים פַּעֲמַיִם וְטוֹבָה לֹא רָאָה הֲלֹא אֶל־מָקוֹם אֶחָד הַכֹּל הוֹלֵךְ׃

7  All of man’s earning is for the sake of his mouth, yet his gullet is not sated.

ז  כָּל־עֲמַל הָאָדָם לְפִיהוּ וְגַם־הַנֶּפֶשׁ לֹא תִמָּלֵא׃

8  What advantage then has the wise man over the fool, what advantage has the pauper who knows how to get on in life?

ח  כִּי מַה־יּוֹתֵר לֶחָכָם מִן־הַכְּסִיל מַה־לֶּעָנִי יוֹדֵעַ לַהֲלֹךְ נֶגֶד הַחַיִּים׃

9  Is the feasting of the eyes more important than the pursuit of desire? That, too, is futility and pursuit of wind.

ט  טוֹב מַרְאֵה עֵינַיִם מֵהֲלָךְ־נָפֶשׁ גַּם־זֶה הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ׃

10  Whatever happens, it was designated long ago and it was known that it would happen; as for man, he cannot contend with what is stronger than he.

י  מַה־שֶּׁהָיָה כְּבָר נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ וְנוֹדָע אֲשֶׁר־הוּא אָדָם וְלֹא־יוּכַל לָדִין עִם שהתקיף [שֶׁתַּקִּיף] מִמֶּנּוּ׃

11  Often, much talk means much futility. How does it benefit a man?

יא  כִּי יֵשׁ־דְּבָרִים הַרְבֵּה מַרְבִּים הָבֶל מַה־יֹּתֵר לָאָדָם׃

12  Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life—the few days of his fleeting life? For who can tell him what the future holds for him under the sun?

 

יב  כִּי מִי־יוֹדֵעַ מַה־טּוֹב לָאָדָם בַּחַיִּים מִסְפַּר יְמֵי־חַיֵּי הֶבְלוֹ וְיַעֲשֵׂם כַּצֵּל אֲשֶׁר מִי־יַגִּיד לָאָדָם מַה־יִּהְיֶה אַחֲרָיו תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ׃

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Ecclesiastes 5
Ecclesiastes 7

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Ecclesiastes 6

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