1 A good name is better than fragrant oil, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting; for that is the end of every man, and a living one should take it to heart.
3 Vexation is better than revelry; for though the face be sad, the heart may be glad.
ג טוֹב כַּעַס מִשְּׂחֹק כִּי־בְרֹעַ פָּנִים יִיטַב לֵב׃
4 Wise men are drawn to a house of mourning, and fools to a house of merrymaking.
ד לֵב חֲכָמִים בְּבֵית אֵבֶל וְלֵב כְּסִילִים בְּבֵית שִׂמְחָה׃
5 It is better to listen to a wise man’s reproof than to listen to the praise of fools.
ה טוֹב לִשְׁמֹעַ גַּעֲרַת חָכָם מֵאִישׁ שֹׁמֵעַ שִׁיר כְּסִילִים׃
6 For the levity of the fool is like the crackling of nettles under a kettle. But that too is illusory;
ו כִּי כְקוֹל הַסִּירִים תַּחַת הַסִּיר כֵּן שְׂחֹק הַכְּסִיל וְגַם־זֶה הָבֶל׃
7 for cheating may rob the wise man of reason and destroy the prudence of the cautious.
ז כִּי הָעֹשֶׁק יְהוֹלֵל חָכָם וִיאַבֵּד אֶת־לֵב מַתָּנָה׃
8 The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it. Better a patient spirit than a haughty spirit.
9 Don’t let your spirit be quickly vexed, for vexation abides in the breasts of fools.
ט אַל־תְּבַהֵל בְּרוּחֲךָ לִכְעוֹס כִּי כַעַס בְּחֵיק כְּסִילִים יָנוּחַ׃
10 Don’t say, “How has it happened that former times were better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask that question.
י אַל־תֹּאמַר מֶה הָיָה שֶׁהַיָּמִים הָרִאשֹׁנִים הָיוּ טוֹבִים מֵאֵלֶּה כִּי לֹא מֵחָכְמָה שָׁאַלְתָּ עַל־זֶה׃
11 Wisdom is as good as a patrimony, and even better, for those who behold the sun.
to-VAH khokh-MAH im na-kha-LAH v’-yo-TAYR l’-ro-AY ha-SHA-mesh
יא טוֹבָה חָכְמָה עִם־נַחֲלָה וְיֹתֵר לְרֹאֵי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ׃
7:11 Wisdom is as good as a patrimony
The Sages teach that the wisdom in this verse is the knowledge of the Torah, and the patrimony refers to the Land of Israel, which is the eternal inheritance of the Jewish people. Tova chochma im nachala (טובה חכמה עם נחלה), translated here as ‘Wisdom is as good as a patrimony,’ literally means “Wisdom is good with an inheritance.” This means that the wisdom of the Torah is enhanced by the “inheritance” that is Eretz Yisrael. The Sages further teach that “there is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel,” since the very air of Israel makes a person wise. Israel is the Jews’ “natural habitat,” and it is therefore the place in which they can flourish and reach their spiritual potential. Mizrachi, the religious-Zionist movement founded in nineteenth century Vilna, reflected this sentiment in their motto: “The Land of Israel for the People of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel.” Among other things, Mizrachi’s mission, from its inception until today, has been working towards the economic and spiritual development of Eretz Yisrael.Comment
12 For to be in the shelter of wisdom is to be also in the shelter of money, and the advantage of intelligence is that wisdom preserves the life of him who possesses it.
יב כִּי בְּצֵל הַחָכְמָה בְּצֵל הַכָּסֶף וְיִתְרוֹן דַּעַת הַחָכְמָה תְּחַיֶּה בְעָלֶיהָ׃
13 Consider Hashem‘s doing! Who can straighten what He has twisted?
יג רְאֵה אֶת־מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי מִי יוּכַל לְתַקֵּן אֵת אֲשֶׁר עִוְּתוֹ׃
14 So in a time of good fortune enjoy the good fortune; and in a time of misfortune, reflect: The one no less than the other was Hashem‘s doing; consequently, man may find no fault with Him.
15 In my own brief span of life, I have seen both these things: sometimes a good man perishes in spite of his goodness, and sometimes a wicked one endures in spite of his wickedness.
טו אֶת־הַכֹּל רָאִיתִי בִּימֵי הֶבְלִי יֵשׁ צַדִּיק אֹבֵד בְּצִדְקוֹ וְיֵשׁ רָשָׁע מַאֲרִיךְ בְּרָעָתוֹ׃
16 So don’t overdo goodness and don’t act the wise man to excess, or you may be dumfounded.
טז אַל־תְּהִי צַדִּיק הַרְבֵּה וְאַל־תִּתְחַכַּם יוֹתֵר לָמָּה תִּשּׁוֹמֵם׃
17 Don’t overdo wickedness and don’t be a fool, or you may die before your time.
יז אַל־תִּרְשַׁע הַרְבֵּה וְאַל־תְּהִי סָכָל לָמָּה תָמוּת בְּלֹא עִתֶּךָ׃
18 It is best that you grasp the one without letting go of the other, for one who fears Hashem will do his duty by both.
יח טוֹב אֲשֶׁר תֶּאֱחֹז בָּזֶה וְגַם־מִזֶּה אַל־תַּנַּח אֶת־יָדֶךָ כִּי־יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים יֵצֵא אֶת־כֻּלָּם׃
19 Wisdom is more of a stronghold to a wise man than ten magnates that a city may contain.
יט הַחָכְמָה תָּעֹז לֶחָכָם מֵעֲשָׂרָה שַׁלִּיטִים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ בָּעִיר׃
20 For there is not one good man on earth who does what is best and doesn’t err.
כ כִּי אָדָם אֵין צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה־טּוֹב וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא׃
21 Finally, don’t pay attention to everything that is said, so that you may not hear your slave reviling you;
כא גַּם לְכָל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּרוּ אַל־תִּתֵּן לִבֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תִשְׁמַע אֶת־עַבְדְּךָ מְקַלְלֶךָ׃
22 for well you remember the many times that you yourself have reviled others.
כב כִּי גַּם־פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת יָדַע לִבֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר גַּם־את [אַתָּה] קִלַּלְתָּ אֲחֵרִים׃
23 All this I tested with wisdom. I thought I could fathom it, but it eludes me.
כג כָּל־זֹה נִסִּיתִי בַחָכְמָה אָמַרְתִּי אֶחְכָּמָה וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנִּי׃
24 [The secret of] what happens is elusive and deep, deep down; who can discover it?
כד רָחוֹק מַה־שֶּׁהָיָה וְעָמֹק עָמֹק מִי יִמְצָאֶנּוּ׃
25 I put my mind to studying, exploring, and seeking wisdom and the reason of things, and to studying wickedness, stupidity, madness, and folly.
כה סַבּוֹתִי אֲנִי וְלִבִּי לָדַעַת וְלָתוּר וּבַקֵּשׁ חָכְמָה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְלָדַעַת רֶשַׁע כֶּסֶל וְהַסִּכְלוּת הוֹלֵלוֹת׃
26 Now, I find woman more bitter than death; she is all traps, her hands are fetters and her heart is snares. He who is pleasing to Hashem escapes her, and he who is displeasing is caught by her.
27 See, this is what I found, said Kohelet, item by item in my search for the reason of things.
28 As for what I sought further but did not find, I found only one human being in a thousand, and the one I found among so many was never a woman.
כח אֲשֶׁר עוֹד־בִּקְשָׁה נַפְשִׁי וְלֹא מָצָאתִי אָדָם אֶחָד מֵאֶלֶף מָצָאתִי וְאִשָּׁה בְכָל־אֵלֶּה לֹא מָצָאתִי׃
29 But, see, this I did find: Hashem made men plain, but they have engaged in too much reasoning.
כט לְבַד רְאֵה־זֶה מָצָאתִי אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם יָשָׁר וְהֵמָּה בִקְשׁוּ חִשְּׁבֹנוֹת רַבִּים׃