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Full text of "Echoes of wisdom : or, Talmudic sayings with classic, especially Latin, parallelisms"

Echoes of Wisdom 



OR 



Talmudic Sayings with Classic, 
especially Latin, Parallelisms, 



BY 



G. TAUBENHAUS, 

Minister Cong. Beth Elohim, Brooklyn. 



PART I. 



HA.EDRICH & SONS' PRINT, 
Cor. Jay & Johnson Sts., Brooklyn. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1900, by 

G. TAUBENHAUS, 
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 



To the sacred memory of my beloved father, 

BENJAMIN TAUBENHAUS, 

I dedicate this book. 

THE AUTHOR. 



2071672 



PREFACE. 

In presenting Talmud and Classics together, the 
object is not to throw the charge of plagiarism at any 
door, but to bring the Talmud nearer to the under- 
standing of at least some of the many who, lacking all 
knowledge of the same, profanely disparage it. 

The beautiful form is not the chief boast of the 
Classics. They are at their noblest when glorifying 
some metaphysical or practical truth. Where that 
is absent they fail to charm us. Homer and Virgil, 
Plato and Cicero have no fascination in spite of their 
rhythmic and blossoming diction when they correct 
no error, improve no moral, clarify no idea, and 
elevate no truth. 

That wisdom which is the pulsation and vitality 
of the Classics is a part of the wisdom laid up in the 
Talmud, I say a part, because as to vastness of 
influence and loftiness of religious thought the 
Talmud is without a compeer. It is the luminous 
stratum of the Bible, and has been and is still, to a 
vast extent, the enlarged and illustrated Bible of 
Israel. 

The present volume, comprising Talmudic 
sayings beginning with "Aleph," is the first of a 
proposed series to come forth in alphabetical order, 
and on the same plan. 

Recognizing my indebtedness to the "Milin 
D'rabbanan" and to Ramage's "Beautiful thoughts of 
Latin Authors," whose translation I occasionally 
adopted, I wish this booklet a cordial reception. 

THE AUTHOR. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 



I. 

"The pipe which affords sweet music to princes is not 
appreciated by weavers." Talmud. 

We should seek to earn the plaudits of refined 
taste. Although it is some accomplishment to 
please any class of people. The cheap dining-room 
is as much needed as the high-toned restaurant. 
Shall those starve who have no taste and no means 
for dainties and delicacies? But to please all tastes 
alike is a difficult matter. 

So Horace: "What shall I give, what shall I not give. 
Thou refusest what another demands.'' 



(a NDV; rrro rrnp x> 'N-n: nor "nn aiax 

2. "Quid dem? Quid non dem? Renuis tu, quod jubet 
alter." Epist. ii. 2. 

II. 

"At the door of the well-supplied store-room there 
are brethren and friends; but at the door of poverty 
neither brethren nor friends are seen." 

This is a universal experience and it were 
useless to ask why it is so. Aristotle having been 
asked why people like to spend so much of their 
time with handsome persons remarked: "This is a 
question fit for a blind man to ask." 

Everything in this world must feed on something. 
Love and friendship, too, must have some means of 
sustenance. 



2 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

We should seek to acquire some virtue, some noble 
qualification, whereby we may be held in esteem, and 
in prosperity we should bear in mind how difficult it 
is, under some circumstances, to obtain a helping 
hand when such is most needed. 

"Whilst thou art favored by fortune thou shalt 
have many friends; when stormy times come thou 
shalt find thyself alone." Ovid. 

Q"^ rat?) 'iDnioi TIN ^-s: Knwun :ON 

"Donee eris felix, multos numerabis amicos; Tempora si 
fuerint nubila, solus erit." Ovid Trist i, 9. 



III. 

"Our fathers said they have forgotten the good 
things; we have not even seen them." 

A famous cook obligated himself to furnish the 
recipes of a thousand dishes. But his culinary know- 
ledge proved inadequate to the agreement. He was 
sued, and the judge Rabbi Jehudi acquitted him on 
the ground that it was not for the benefit of society 
to carry that art to such a high pitch. 

"Who could tolerate such sordid luxury." (Juvenal.) 

CJ D'-m) '31 UKI raiD ireu VIDK 

Quis feret istas luxuriae sordes. (Sat. i.) 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 3 

IV. 

"The stones of one's house, the walls of one's house will 
testify against him." Tal. 

Wrong, though done unobserved and unwatched, 
will come to light. Our home will not afford us 
sufficient help to cover and hide it. We are reminded 
of the lines of Swift: 

"For by old proverbs it appears, 
That walls have tongues and hedges ears." 

"Oh! Corydon, poor, simple Corydon! Do you think aught 
that a rich man does, can be secret? Even though his slaves 
should hold their tongues, his cattle will tell the tale; and his 
dogs and door posts and marble statues." Juvenal. 

(K* mini n p'yo ms ijp irva rvnipi DTK ^ vp3 ^x 

Secretum divkis ullum esse putas? Servi ut taceant ju- 
menta loquenitur et canis e't postes et marmora. Sat. ix. 



V. 

"By the way threaten the enemy." Tal. 

The idea is to check evil at the very start and not to 
allow it to gain any ground. The angel Gabriel, com- 
missioned to go and to ripen the fruit ot Israel's 
fields, was advised to cut off the Assyrians on the 
road. For to bless the harvest without obviating 
hostile invasion would have been tantamount to pre- 
paring a sumptuous banquet for the enemy. Indeed, 
that gardener is careless and indiscreet who makes 



4 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

no timely provisions against injurious influences. 

Persius expressed the same thought. "Meet the 
disease on the road." 

(n"v irwo^ yone"K inm !>jn^ -jrrnK ajK 

Venienti occurrite morbo. Persius iii. 64. 



VI. 

"The reward of the religious discourse is haste." Tal. 

Our religious obligation does not centre in the 
hand. A man, carrying a hundred Bibles and having 
nothing in his heart and conscience to duplicate any 
portion of their sacred contents, carries a heavy load 
but not the word of God. An action itself does not 
determine its merit or demerit. Water is achromatic 
and receives an agreeable or disagreeable color from 
something else. A few minute rain-drops, upon 
which sun-rays fall, reflect the gorgeous hues of the 
rainbow, the sign of God's promise, the flag of 
Providence, which we see suspended in the sky after 
storms to announce, as it were, the victory over the 
enraged elements of nature. The same deed which, 
if performed by a sincere man, might elicit our hearty 
congratulation, is to us a source of annoyance and 
irritation if done by a hypocrite. 

Religion is primarily an internal element: the con- 
sciousness of our higher relation. To strengthen 
and to foster this consciousness what an inestima-- 
ble gain! Light of truth and holy ardor within, 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 5 

what a strong impulse to ideal realization without! 
"Hasten, my dearest Lucilius, think how you would 
accelerate your speed, were an enemy pursuing you." 
Seneca. 

CT main) KB'.TI xpian si^ 

Propero ergo, Lucili carissime, et cogita quantum addi- 
turus celeritati fueris, si a tergo hostis instaret. Epist.xxxii. 



VII. 

"The reward of study (tradition) is the understanding." 
Tal 

The Talmudic sages reverenced tradition not 
as the despot of the mind; but as its emancipator, 
tutor and educator. They laid great stress upon 
finding the reason why things were said or done so, 
and not otherwise. They were rational followers of 
tradition. "Ask me a point of law," said Kami har 
Chami, "and though I will answer according to rea- 
son, you will find its parallel in tradition." 

Rabbi 'Jochanan grieved when Rabbi Elieser, in 
an almost flattering manner, backed his statements 
with corroborative references to tradition, and 
mournfully cried: "Where is the son of Lakish, 
who, by cross-questioning, compelled me to be more 
exact and elaborate in my teachings?" 

Once it happened, when the head of the Baby- 
lonian college was to be elected, that there were 
two prospective candidates, each of whom was dis- 
tinguished in his way. Rabbi Joseph was a pro- 



6 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

found scholar, but less of a thinker; Rabbah was an 
acute dialectician, but less of a scholar. The com- 
munity, at a loss in whose favor to decide, sent to 
Palestine for advice in the matter. The reply was 
that knowledge was preferable to subtlety and argu- 
mentive skill, because without knowledge the mind 
is helpless a tabula rasa. Yet Rabbi Joseph, upon 
whom the choice fell, voluntarily left the field and 
made room for his more intellectual rival. 

The most irrefutable argument in favor of tradi- 
tion was made by the great Hillel when he con- 
vinced a heathen, who desired to embrace Judaism, 
oh the condition of being exempt from the oral law, 
that even the alphabet cannot be learned without 
the assistance of tradition. 

Reason is not antagonistic to tradition; tradition 
is no opponent of reason. Before we can speak we 
have to hear, and before we can form an opinion of 
our own, we must submit to the instruction and 
authority of others. Tradition is the sum of the 
experience and the outcome of the active brain of 
the past. It is generation speaking to generation, 
age impelling age the magnificent scope of an im- 
mensely widened and broadened present, the chariot 
of progresive thought. 

"Not to know what happened before one was 
born is always to remain a child." Cicero. 



"Nescire autem, quid antea, quam natus sis, accident, id 
est semper esse puerum." Or. 34. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 7 

VIII. 
"Silence is the reward of the visit of condolence." Tal. 

Considering what tattlers we are, and how un- 
manageable a thing the tongue is, it is not at all to 
be wondered at that the suppression of speech at 
the house of mourning has been declared a virtue. 
But our saying has a loftier meaning. We come 
grumbling into the world. Some of us continue the 
mortifying exercise until a few shovels of earth put 
an end to it. But most of us imitate the hooting of 
the owl and strike the plaintive notes of the pessi- 
mist too often. We have domineering dispositions, 
hence we are beside ourselves when aught goes 
against our will and expectation. 

A great calamity is not the unbearable part of 
life. We murmur more against sultriness than 
against the thunder. When the worst occurs we 
are calmed. Resignation is an unfailing antidote. 
But trivial losses, common-place disappointments, 
avoidable altercations, insults that we magnify, cares 
which we invite and wants which we create are the 
most provoking and vexing things, nipping so many 
joys in the bud. And if we reflect upon the final 
and inevitable blast or upon the danger which 
threatens our house, our very life, every hour of our 
existence, does it not look comical and irrational to 
pine and complain about trifles? "It is better to go 
to the house of mourning than to the house of 



8 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

feasting," says the wise Solomon. For here our 
vanity and discontent is fed. There in the shadow 
of the departed soul, solemn considerations loom up 
and humility and resignation or, what is the same, 
silence recommends itself as wisdom. 

"To be silent is learned by the many misfortunes 
in life." Seneca. 



"Tacere multis discitur vitae malis." Thyest 319. 



IX. 
"The reward of fasting is charity." Tal. 

If fasting itself were a religious act the people 
who gladly starve themselves in order to fatten their 
purse would be the most religious. What ordinance 
would be so welcome to the miser as that which 
gave him the religious right to keep his family in 
starvation at short intervals? But it was custom- 
ary to distribute the savings in consequence of fast- 
ing among the poor. This impressed upon the fast- 
day a true religious character. Self-denial, not for 
the sake of accumulation, but for the sake of ex- 
tending a helping hand to those who cannot do 
without it, is charity, indeed. 

"Let us use those things intrusted to us, let us 
not boast of them; and let us use them sparingly 



as a loan deposited with us which will soon depart." 
Seneca. 

(DP) xnp-tt Njvjym K-IJK 

"Utamur illis non giloriemur; et utamur parce, tamquam 
depositis apud nos et abituris." Epist. Ixxiv. 



X. 

"The reward of the funeral oration is the lamenting 
voice." TaJ. 

"It is some relief to weep; grief is satisfied and 
carried off by tears." Ovid. 

(DP) "l^T KTBDm N"UK 

Est quaedam flere voluptas, expletur lacrymis egeritur- 
que dolor." Trist iv. 3. 



XL 
"While the sand is yet on thy feet, sell." To/. 

When you return with merchandise from your 
journey sell at any profit, and do not wait for a 
better market. This advice Rab gave to his son, 
when he said to him: "I have done my best to edu- 
cate and fit you for the learned profession, and 
failed. Now let me teach you how to conduct your- 
self as a business man." 

The son of Rab must have belonged to those 



io ECHOES OF WISDOM 

who liked to defer things from day to day, and citing 
to him the golden rule of mercantile pursuits, 
Rab meant to teach him at the same time a moral 
and religious lesson. The rule to create and not idly 
wait for the opportunity, and to quickly embrace it 
when it presents itself, is as beneficial in religion as 
elsewhere. "While we are deliberating, the oppor- 
tunity is often lost." Syrus. 



"Ddiberando saepe perit occasio. 



XII. 
"Love overlooks station." Tal. 

When under the influence of love, it is immaterial to 
us whether what we do is dignifying or not. To illus- 
trate this, the Talmud refers to Abraham, who, in 
his anxiety to do the will of God, rose up early in 
the morning and did the work of a servant. 

"Dignity and love do not blend well or continue 
long together." Ovid. 

(n"p pirwo) rrm-t ntaao 



"Non bene conveniunt, nee in <una sede morantur majes- 
tas et amor." Met. ii. 846. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 11 

XIII. 

"Love depending upon a thing ceases when the thing 
ceases." Tal. 

"If it were expediency that cemented friendships, 
the same, when changed, would dissolve them." 
Cicero. 

Cn 'D nnx> rarm ntan -m f>B3 inna mW ronx 



"Si utilitas amicitias conglutinaret, eadem commutata 
dissolveret." De Amicitia, ix. 

XIV. 

"Woe is me from my Maker and woe is m<e from my 
nature." Tal 

A small quantum of religion amounts to next to 
nothing. We cannot go beyond our standard of duty, 
and if that does not rise above the ground, the little 
we accomplish will make us rejoice, and fancy that 
we perform wonders, as children do when they walk 
on a ladder which has a safe and horizontal position. 
But if our religious conception is of a high grade, 
land to live religiously means to us to give to life 
such shape and symmetry as will reflect some of the 
grandeur of the Divine attributes, then conscience 
will not be pacified by the defective performance 
of dilettantism, nor rocked to sleep by the shallow 
song of the amateur. But in that struggle for 
spiritual dominion and for emancipation from the 



12 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

delusion of earthly splendor, how frequent is the 
repulsion! As an eagle, whose pinion fails in his 
lofty flight to the sun, sinks exhausted upon some 
strange mountain, where he has to tarry to regain 
strength, and is suffering in the meantime from 
both a thirst for the upper air and a longing for 
more genial environs, so many a man with strong 
religious propensities, moving amidst the tempta- 
tions and allurements of the world, finds himself 
often between two realms one which he cannot 
call his, and one that gives him no satisfaction. 
Body and soul what opposites! Yet man has to 
live in both. The world and the religious idea 
what antagonists! Yet the one has to be worked 
out in the other. The flesh is the loom of immor- 
tality; matter the door to eternity. 

The saying is attributed to Rabbi Meier, who was 
a disciple of Elisha ben Abijah, the famous apostate, 
called in the Talmud Acher. It bears a striking 
resemblance to the words of Faust: "Two souls, alas! 
within me contend." The same sentiment Seneca 
expresses: "What is it, Lucilius, that we are inten- 
tionally going one way, still drives us another? What 
is it that impels us to the very place from which we 
desire to recede?" 

(K"D rnrra) niro ^ INI nxvo ^ -"IN 

"Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust, die eine will 
sich von der andern trennen." Goethe's Faust. 

"Quid est hoc Ludli, quod nos alio tendentes alio trahit, 
et eo unde recedere cupimus, impellit?" Ep. 52. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 13 

XV. 

"Woe unto me, if I speak; woe unto me if I do not 
speak." Tal. 

Rabbi Jochanan Ben Saccai made that exclamation 
with reference to the frauds and imposters of his age. 

"If I speak about them, some of my disciples be- 
coming familiar with their vulpine practice might be 
tempted to try it. Should I not expose them they will 
continue undisturbed to take advantage of my disci- 
ples who are ignorant of their methods." 

"It is misery," says Syrus, "to be compelled to 
suppress the very thing you desire to proclaim." 

(B"D N"im K33) 1D1K &6 DS ^ "IK 1O1N DX ^ ^K 
"Quam miserum est tacere cogi quod cupias loqui." 



XVI. 

"Woe unto people who see and do not know what they 
see; stand and do not know upon what they stand." 

Tal. 

The saying, though dressed in sceptical phraseol- 
ogy, opposes scepticism. There is a difference, 
according to Kant, between scepticism and the scep- 
tical method. "Scepticism a principle of technical 
and scientific ignorance undermines the founda- 
tions of all knowledge, in order, if possible, to destroy 
our belief and confidence therein. The sceptical 
method aims at certainty." Indeed, in the Bible, 
especially in the book of Job and Ecclesiastes, that 



14 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

method is used in order to bring about a complete 
surrender of reason to faith. The Talmud, too, 
avails itself of it, and has many a dispute which is 
left undecided because revelation sheds no light upon 
it, and the evidences on both sides appeal with equal 
force to reason. 

On the same Talmudic page from which the above 
saying is copied, there is a controversy between the 
school of Hillel and that of Shammai about the 
priority in the order of the creation of Heaven and 
Earth which embarrasses and confuses reason, be- 
cause both theories, contradictory as they are, seem, 
each in its turn, admissible and legitimate. 

The idea which our saying is intended to convey is 
that if we ignore revelation and disparage faith, we 
will reason and theorize without arriving at any satis- 
factory conclusion. Every affirmative meets its nega- 
tive, and every thesis is weakened by the opposition 
of an antithesis. Duty the contract and agreement 
of society, the leading thought in the Book of Life, 
becomes misty and illegible, and if reason unassisted 
by revelation does stand by it, it is only as an inter- 
rogation. 

"O miserable thoughts of men! O shaded minds! 
In what dangers and what darkness is spent what- 
ever there is of life!" Lucretius. 

p'wi WIDW rriKn no mjnv \y\ rnww nv-in^ Dr6 IN 

(3'" 1 n;wn) nnoiy \n no hy nijnv 

"O miseras 'hominum mentes! O pectora caeca!" u. 13. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 15 

XVII. 
"Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor. Tal. 

"Your affairs are at stake when the next house is 
on fire." Horace. 



"Tua res agitur paries cum proximus ardet." Ep. i, 18. 



XVIII. 

"Either company with man or death." Tal. 

Choni Hamagol, who is highly spoken of in the 
Talmud for his piety and learning, once saw a man 
plant a tree, and said: "You do not expect to eat 
the fruit of this tree; why do you plant it?" "I have 
found trees in the world," answered the man; "my 
father planted such trees for me, and I plant them 
for my children." Pleased with this wise reply, 
Choni Hamagol walked away. In a place of solitude 
he was overtaken with sleep, where he slept for 
seventy years. At the end of that period he 
awakened, and returned home, where -he inquired 
for his son. He was dead. His grandson refused 
to recognize him. He went into the school where 
the sages philosophized. He heard his name men- 
tioned with respect. A scholar, discussing a point 
of law, said; "This is as clear to-day as it was in the 
days of Choni Hamagol." The resurrected man 



i6 

cried out: "I am Choni Hamagol." But no one gave 
credence to his story. He prayed for death. 

"If his solitude be such that he could not come 
in contact with man, he would wish to get out of 
life." Cicero. 

(ya myn) KTIWD IN wiran >N 

"Tamen, si solitudo tanta sit ut ihominem videre non pos- 
sit, excedat e vita." De Offic i. 43. 



XIX. 

"This people is likened to the dust and is likened to the 
stars, because if it goes down it is to the dust, if it 
ascends it is to the stars." To/. 

We fall deep and rise high. Clinging to our 
teachings and principles we are superior to all 
nations ; abandoning them we are inferior. Politic- 
ally and socially our history presents the same oppo- 
sites. Either we are despised or raised to the high- 
est honors; either are we called, "the people chosen 
by God" or "the people cursed by God." 

"Man is a god or a brute," is a Latin saying 
adopted from Aristole. 

-lV pIV pK>3 D'333^ r6lt}>Dl IDvi? r6w IT HOIK 

(r B n^'JD) D'333^ ny 

"Dens aut bestia." 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 17 

XX. 

"Speak moderately about a man's merits when he is 
present, but do him justice in his absence." Talmud. 

Praise is discriminative, hence, not without offen- 
siveness ; it is like a golden sword which glorifies 
him to whom it is given, but is a menace to others. 
Praise going in the direction of merit hints that 
those who are unnoticed are undeserving. But we 
cannot afford to treat all alike, and gratitude insists 
upon its rights. If the heart is full of admiration, 
why should it not come out? Place the good man in 
a light where he will be seen to the best advantage. 
Omit nothing in his life that tends to render his 
name more endeared. Let every gold button, every 
jewel, every grace and ornament in the apparel of 
the good soul shine out with pleasing distinction. 
"By praise emulation is excited." But when you 
face him, control your feeling and let the laudatory 
words be few, or you run the risk of being taken for 
a common flatterer. 

So Syrus: "Admonish thy friend secretely, but praise him 
the more publicly." 

(m pviyj ns3 xta itai VJB3 DIK i>B 

Secreto amicos admone, lauda palam. 



i8 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

XXI. 

"The scholarship is appreciated, the daughter is not ap- 
preciated." Tal. 

Rabbi Jochanan desired to have Seira for a son-in- 
law and made to him a proposal to that effect. But 
Seira who was a proud Babylonian did not like to 
marry into a Palestine family, and avoided Rabbi 
Jochanan as much as he could, in order not to be 
compelled to repeat the refusal and to embarrass the 
sage a second time. Accidentally, however, they 
met on the road, and coming to a stream, Seira 
carried the Rabbi over on his shoulders. Rabbi 
Jochanan then remarked: "My wisdom is good 
enough, my daughter is not good enough for you." 

"Philosophy does not consider pedigree. She did 
not receive Plato as noble, but made him so." 

vh prun muo prrniK 



"Platonem non accepit nobilem Philosophia, sed fecit." 

Seneca. Ep. 44. 



XXII. 

"If one of the society dies, all its members should 
tremble." Tal. 

Let it not be said that he died because he was old 
and feeble, or because he led an indiscreet life, or 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 19 

because he was poor and had not the means to attend 
to himself properly, or because he was rich and 
fattened himself excessively. 

"We all are reserved for death... Xor is there 
any question about the thing, but about the day."- 
Scneca. 

(vp nap; mian fa UNT not? rrnan -oaiD nnx 

Omnes reserva>mur ad mortem. Nat. Quaest. vi, i. 



XXIII. 

"Do you think that fear of God is a small matter?" Tal. 

The rational fear of God is the highest attainment 
inasmuch as it excludes the fear of man, as Ibn Ezra 
puts it: "Because I fear the One God, I fear no one 
else." So we understand the blessing which Rabbi 
Jochanan gave unto his disciples: "May it be your 
portion to fear God as much as you do men." 
(Then you will fear men less.) 

"To obey God is liberty." Seneca. 



Deo parere libertas est. De Vit. Bet. 15. 



20 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

XXIV. 

"Does it follow that -he is no great man because he does 
not know this?" Tal. 

We cannot know and learn everything, and that 
which we have learned and believe to have mastered, 
we cannot always apply with equal skill. Rabbi 
Jochanan was perplexed by a simple question of Ves- 
pasian. Rabbi Saphra disappointed his interrogators, 
to whom he had been highly recommened. Rabbi 
Jehudah was silent when asked to explain a Biblical 
passage. 

When Plato defined man as being a two-footed 
animal without feathers, he was ridiculed by Diogenes, 
who, on the following day plucked a cock, brought 
it to the academy and said: "This is Plato's man.'' 

"Even the great Homer nods at times." Horace. 

(T"D p"o) Kin ran jnaa ^ mn jrr t&i {NO IDK 

Quandoque bonus dormitat. Homeros (A. P.) 



XXV. 

"Do you think that the sage can proceed in the manner 
of the dealer in spices." Tal. 

His article -cannot be put in the scales. It is not 
a thing about which to say: "I want just so much and 
no more and no less." You desire to have ten differ- 
ent rules to apply to ten different conditions in life, 
and he imparts only one, but in that, the principles 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 21 

of all others are contained, and it is for you to find 
them. 

There is no book, philosophical, theological or 
poetical, no matter how excellent and exhaustive it be, 
that you could read with any benefit if your reason 
and imagination did not assist you. Good style is 
but a pleasant manner of presenting a subject whereby 
an interest for it is created. The way to truth may 
be pointed out, but self-culture must do the rest. 

We are reminded of Lessing's Nathan: "Strange! 
how is this? What wills the Sultan of me? I came 
prepared with cash he asks truth. Truth? As if 
truth, too, were cash a coin disused, that goes by 
weight indeed, 'tis some such thing. But a new 
coin, known by the stamp at once, to be flung down 
upon the counter it is not that." 

So Cicero: "For our mode of speaking is to be 
adapted to the ear of the multitude, to fascinate and 
excite their mind and to prove things which are not 
weighed in the scales of the goldsmith." 



Heac enim nostra oratio....ad ea prabanda quae non 
aurificis statera . . . examinantur. (De Or. II, 38.) 



XXVI. 

"If the king says: ' Let the mountain be removed/ it 
will surely be done." Tal. 



22 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"When Caesar says: 'Do this/ it is performed." 

Shakespeare. 

Retraction, though it have the smile and loveli- 
ness of mercy, weakens authority. 

"It is something to hold a sceptre with firm 
hand." Ovid. 

ipy "nits npy 
CJ 3"3) iT3 "n 

Est -aliquid valida sceptra tenere manu. 



XXVII. 

"If you will lift the weight, I, too, will lift." To/. 

Barak said to Deborah: "If you go, (to war), I, 
too, will go." 

"It is inborn in man to be satisfied to be a 
follower, when it is risky to be a leader." Tacitus. 

vb vh ^i win Kin min " 
(:3"x p"3) xrh 

Insita mortalibus natura, propere sequi quae piget 
inchohare. Hist, i, 55. 



XXVIII. 

"The peasant clings to his basket even if a crown is 
placed upon his head." Tal. 

Rabbah had risen from extreme poverty to be at 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 23 

the head of the College of Pumpaditha and the chief 
figure of his age. Once he sent Purim gifts of an 
ordinary nature to a man of high station and refined 
taste. Abayi seeing the poor selection the sage made 
quoted the above adage as a possible criticism which 
the patrician might fling at him, when receiving the 
coarse presents. 

Promotion, like a new and beautiful garment, im- 
proves appearance, but does not change habits. The 
wider the leap and the more abrupt the elevation, the 
more difficult is the task of perfect assimilation. 

"Whatever is innate or inbred, may be corrected 
by art, but cannot be rooted out." Seneca. 

sfjipn w$> Kata n^pn ^ 
or H^JO) rvm vh n 



Quidquid infixum et ingenitum est lenitur arte, non 
vincitur. Ep. xi. 



XXIX. 

"Had I not picked up the potsherd wouldst thou have 
found the pearl?" Tal. 

So Rabbi Jannai observed, when his disciple, 
Rabbi Jochanan, made an excellent point in argument. 

While we may claim the credit of application, 
we ought not to forget our indebtedness to our 
teachers for the knowledge we acquire with their 
assistance. 



24 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

Carneades, speaking about Chrysipus, whose 
writings he absorbed, said: "If Chrysipus had not 
lived I should never have existed." 

Our sages have appreciated the evolution of in- 
struction to such an extent that they taught: "If one 
learns from a person one maxim or one word, he 
owes him the respect due to a teacher." One maxim 
or one word may enable us to uncover pearls of 
wisdom. 

"You buy an inestimable treasure from your 
teacher." Seneca. 

nrDPN <D Kaon -(? 
('3 'DT) nrnn 



Emis . . . rem inestimabilem . . .bonarum artium prae- 
ceptore. De Ben. iv. 



XXX. 

"Had not a great man praised thee, I might have taken 
exception to what you say." Tal. 

We rely not only upon the superior judgment 
of the great man, but also upon his superior sense of 
justice, and taking it for granted that he will not 
stoop to misrepresentation, we extend courtesy to 
his protege. 

"Good men will yield thee praise, then slight the 
rest." 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 25 

" Tis best praise-worthy to have pleased the best." 
Capt. John Smith. 

Cicero expresses the same idea: "For it is un- 
doubtedly true r that applause is sweet, when it pro- 
ceeds from those whose own life has been most 
applauded." 

d"v ':r) '3i ran 



Est enim profecto jucunda laus, quae ab iis proficiscitur, 
qui ipsi in laude yixerunt. Fam. xv, 6. 



XXXI. 

"Were it not for this day, there would be many Josephs." 

Tal. 

Rab Joseph was in habit of giving a banquet to 
his friends on the feast of weeks, because to the event 
of that day he felt indebted for his exalted position. 

There would be more consistency, gratitude and 
light of beneficence in the world, if those who enjoy 
distinction should honor the sources which lend it to 
them. 

"Law is what distinguishes right and wrong. 
Cicero. 



Lex justorum injustorumque distinotio. Leg. ii, 5. 



26 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

XXXII. 

"If this prince will rule, thou wilt be his .subject, and if 
that prince will rule, thou wilt be his subject. (There 
is nothing for thee to gain.) Talmud. 

So the wife of On Ben Peleth reasoned with her 
husband when he intimated to her his intention to 
join the conspiracy of Korah against Moses. 

The moral is: "We should not take sides in 
contests of the great. Let them fight it out among 
themselves. So Seneca: 

"What is it to you, Marcus Cato! It is not a 
question of liberty. The question is whether Caesar 
or Pompejus shall be master of the commonwealth. 
The conquest does not concern you. What matters 
it to you who of them conquers?" 
N2-I ID W 

(B"p nmo) 

Quaeritur utrum Caesar, an Pompejus possideat rem 
publicam. Dominus eligitur, quid tua, qui vincerit. Ep. 14. 



XXXIII. 

"If the book, then no sword, if the sword, then no book." 
Tal. 

Peace favors and war impedes culture and refine- 
ment. When the book glories, the sword is rusty, and 
when the sword is unsheathed, the dust accumulates 
on the book. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 27 

No man can be both a scholar and a soldier; a 
servant of God, and an enemy of His creature; an up- 
holder of religion, and an assasin of truth. 

We are reminded of Lucan: "Faith and probity 
are not found among the men who follow the camp." 



(T'" 1 t"y) JOBD 1t 

Nulla fides probitasque viris qui castra sequuntur. 
Bel. Civ. x. 



XXXIV. 

"If you have hired out yourself, you have to beat the 
wool if you are told to do so." Tal. 

We should either not undertake to do anything 
which is beneath our station, or we must abide by the 
agreement. 

Rab came to Nahardua, and incognito performed 
the function of interpreter. At that time the leading 
Rabbi of the city did not speak directly to the people. 
He suggested the text and the points to be discussed, 
but the homily was worked out, and delivered in the 
idiom of the masses, by one who was engaged for that 
purpose, and was called Methurgeman or Emora. 

In some instances he towered intellectually high 
above the Rabbi, as was the case with Judah Bar 
Nachmaini who acted as speaker for one so ignorant 
that he could not even furnish a suitable text for the 



28 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

occasion, and he, astonished at the uninstructed 
usurper, cried out in the words of the prophet: "Woe, 
if it is said to a piece of wood awake, and to a stone 
arise." 

It was not so bad with Rabbi Shilo. His erudi- 
tion entitled him to the position which he occupied 
with dignity. But his scholarship was inferior to that 
of Rab, and as the latter was progressing in his dis- 
course, it dawned upon Rabbi Shilo that his tempor- 
ary Methurgeman was no less a personality than the 
famous Rab. At once he rose from his seat, and 
interrupting the speaker, said: "I am not worthy to 
preside where you stand." Rab, however, insisted 
upon finishing the work he began. 

"Either do not begin or finish," is also a Latin 
proverb. 

pc n<!> man ^ 
CD 'ov) moj; 

Aut nunquam tentes, out perfice. 



XXXV. 

"The parts of one's own bodily structure will testify 
against him." Tal. 

The idea is' not that we can know a man's mind 
and character by looking at him. "Do not judge the 
contents by the pitcher, is a Talmudic sentiment 
which reminds of Shakespeare, when he says; "There 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 29 

is no art to find the mind's construction in the face." 

Is the spirit of a Samuel, an Isaiah, Ezrah, Akiba, 
Copernicus, Goethe in the face? How many people 
there have been and are, who likened them in size and 
weight of body, and resembled them in complexion 
and features, but intellectually were no more like 
them than is the moon like the sun. 

Moses had to perform wonders with his staff to 
prove to Pharaoh that he was sent by God. The pro- 
phet Elisha was molested by the bad boys for his 
bald-headedness, and perhaps some other bodily 
defect. Hannah was taken for an inebriate by the 
High Priest Eli. Rabbi Jehudah was told that he re- 
sembled a swine breeder more than a scholar, because 
he had a flushed face. In a conversation with Rabbi 
Joshua Ben Chananyah who had an ungainly appear- 
ance a Roman princess expressed her astonishment 
that such a bright intellect should have no manifesta- 
tion in facial delineation. 

Homer was blind, and Sophocles, charged by his 
sons with silliness, read his latest work to his judges, 
and thus proved that he was not the dotard com- 
plained of. Socrates was declared an immoral man 
by a famous phrenologist. 

Diognes Leartius, tells about Cleanthes: "He 
boasted that on the principles of Zeno he could judge 
a man's character by his looks. A young man 
brought him a profligate fellow having a hardy look 
from working a good deal in the field, and requested 



30 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

him to tell his moral character. Cleanthes, having 
hesitated a little, bade him depart, and as he departed 
he sneezed: "I have "the fellow now," said Cleanthes, 
"he is a debauchee!" 

But what, if that fellow had not sneezed, the- 
philosopher would have been puzzled. 

Of course, we cannot ignore and disparage ap- 
pearance. Is it not by it that we can tell one thing 
from the other? There is truth in the popular say- 
ing: "Appearance is everything." Science is nothing 
else than our knowledge of appearances. But the 
appearance of mind and moral character are works 
and actions. Would Raphael's hands, without the 
great work he performed have secured for him his 
renown of a great artist? What, if Epaminondas had 
lacked the opportunity to manifest his moral courage, 
would history have taken notice of him? The halo 
of Moses minus his stupendous achievements would 
have been a mere cipher. 

What then is the meaning of our saying? That 
things done in all secrecy, will in many instances leave 
traces upon him by which they will be known. "If a 
calamity has befallen the community," says the Tal- 
mud "it is the duty of every individual to mourn and 
let no one say: "I will mourn publicly, but do good 
unto my heart in -safe retreat, who will know what I 
am doing?" 

We are reminded of Dryden: 

"Sorrow nor joy can be disguised by art; 
Our foreheads blab the secrets of the heart." 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 31 

Cicero declares that "the countenance is the im- 
age of the mind, and the eyes are its interpreters," 
but involuntarily admits their deceptiveness. 



n p'yo 
(&o myn) 'n DKJ ny DDK 

"Imago animi vultus, indices oculi. De Ora-t. iii, 59. 



XXXVI. 

"When the sun rises the weak rise." Tal. 

To the sick and troubled heart the shades of 
night are peculiarly depressing, and the very stars 
are emblematic of flowers strewn upon graves. 

In such an unhappy mood, Young wrote: "Night, 
sable goddess! from her ebon throne, in rayless 
majesty, now stretches forth her leaden sceptre o'er 
a slumbering world. Silence, how dead! and darkness, 
how profound! Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object 
finds; Creation sleeps. Tis as the general pulse of 
life stood still, and nature made a pause, an awful 
pause! prophetic of her end." 

Morning is resurrection. Beaming with awak j 
ened glories the world rises as from an abyss of dark- 
ness to new life and expectation. Man recovered from 
his stupor looks again for his opportunity. There is 
some relief in the chamber of anguish and sorrowful 
watchfulness. 



32 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"The morn is up again, the dewy morn, with 
breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom, laughing 
the clouds away with playful scorn and living as if 
earth contained no tomb." Byron. 

Figuratively, the saying means that when the 
good man is in the ascendency, others ascend with 
him. It is associated in the Talmud with a beautiful 
myth. Abraham wore a jewel which restored to 
health all the sick that had an opportunity to cast a 
glance at it. When the Patriarch died, the Almighty 
hung it upon the sun. Now, Abraham's jewel is the 
blessing of God, that he shall be a benefit to those 
who wish him well. That blessing did not cease 
with Abraham's death, but was transferred upon the 
righteous who followed him. In the Bible, the right- 
eous are compared to the rising sun. 

"One comfort," says Carlyle, "is that great men 
taken up in any way are profitable company. We 
cannot look, however, imperfectly upon a great man 
without gaining something by him. He is the living 
light-fountain which it is good and pleasant to be 
near. The light which enlightens, which has enlight- 
ened the darkness of the world, and this not as a 
kindled lamp only, but rather as a natural luminary 
shining by the gift of Heaven." 

(TD 3"3 KVYp ^VX KDV ^TN 
Apollo morbos depellit. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 33 

XXXVII. 

"Who is a hero? He who subdues 'his passions." 

That the man of great and extraordinary power is 
a hero is admitted by all. There is, however, a differ- 
ence of opinion with regard to the sphere of exercis- 
ing and concentrating that power. The people in 
general hail it in the external. Their hero destroys 
cities, overthrows kingdoms and conquers nations. 
But the wise seek heroism in the breast. With them 
the question is not, how many people one holds in 
obedience to his will, and in subjugation to his whims, 
but how much influence and commanding power he 
has over himself. The microcosm of his inner being 
is the seat and realm of true heroism. The greatest 
hero is he who has the requirements to plant himself 
the idol of his environs, but scorns the opportunity 
in conformity to nobler principles. 

The heroes of the people with some exceptions 
acted the dual part of strength and weakness; 
bravery and cowardice; the master and the slave. 
Quite interesting and suggestive is Lucian on the 
subject, and his dialogue of Alexander and Hannibal, 
invoking the aid of Minos to decide their dispute 
about precedence, speaks for itself. 

Says Hannibal: "I took the Celtibarians, and con- 
quered the Western Galatians ; passing over great 
mountains, I overran all those parts about the Eri- 
danus, and subverted so many cities; and subdued the 



34 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

plains of Italy, and came over to the suburbs of the 
ruling city Rome, and slew so many on one day that 
I measured their rings by the bushels, and bridged 
rivers with the dead . . . All these things I did as a 
Barbarian, and unskilled in Grecian literature, and I 
never recited Homer as he (Alexander) did, nor was 
I educated by the sophist Aristotle, using as my guide 
a good natural education. These are the things in 
which I declare myself to be superior to Alexander." 

To this speech of Hannibal, Alexander makes 
the following reply: "I ought, indeed, answer nothing, 
O Minos! to a man so impudent. For fame is suffi- 
cient to inform you how great a king I was, and how 
great a robber he .... Being elected general, I 
deigned not to be contented with ruling as many as 
my father left me; but comprehending the entire 
world in my ambition, and thinking it a shocking 
thing if I did not rule over all, I invaded Asia and 
conquered . . . and taking . . . and constantly subdu- 
ing all before me . . . After this, O Minos! you remem- 
ber how many dead I sent you down on one day. The 
ferry-man says that his boat was not sufficient for 
them . . . Do you judge, oh Minos! For these few 
observations are enough out of many." 

The Talmud relates the following story about 
Alexander. He besieged a city in Africa, which was 
inhabited exclusively by women, but overcome in 
argument by the female deputation that came to him 
to negotiate for peace, he promised to withdraw his 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 35 

forces, and to do no injury to the city. He requested 
them, however, to bring him bread, and oh! how 
great was his disappointment, when in place of bread, 
they brought him gold. He assured them that he 
meant what he said, and had no desire for gold, but 
was hungry, and actually craved for bread, and the 
women shouted: "What! didst thou have no bread at 
home that thou hast come that perilous distance to beg 
for it?" Hereupon he wrote on the gate of the city: 
"I, Alexander the Great, have been a fool until I came 
to this place, where I have learned wisdom." 

That Hegel should have inveighed against those 
who, favoring a calmer polity, questioned the great- 
ness of Macedonia's most discontented son, seems 
strange, to say the least. It were wicked to think 
that the famous philosopher had the ambition that his 
voice be appreciated in the house of the Prussian 
Pharaoh. 

Shakespeare's Roman play, Julius Caesar, is per- 
haps nothing else than a satire on Rome's heroes. 
They all look upon life as upon a plaything, yet with 
what a resolution they brandish the sword in the 
interest of their ambition, and how rapturously they 
speak about virtue. What a comical heroism! Is 
the life held so cheap, worth the steel and the senti- 
ment they lavishly bestow upon it? 

Even Brutus, "the noblest of them all," is no 
satisfactory personification of the higher conception 
of true heroism. He has brilliant traits in character, 



36 

but is too conscious of them, and that consciousness 
breeds self-admiration. In spite of his moral super- 
iority, he sees too often through the eyes of Cassius. 
and is his follower when he should be his leader. He 
despises the method of Cassius of raising funds, but 
applies to him for pecuniary aid when in need, and 
loses his temper when refused. His philosophy is 
not enough to hold him when the thought of Portia's 
death comes upon him without the strength which the 
spirit of the grape administers. Losing his battles, 
he, rather than bear the ignominy of defeat, puts an 
end to his life an act for which he boldly censured 
Cato. 

The Bible, too, unfolds a picture of perverted 
heroism in the life of Samson. That muscular Danite 
kills lions, removes cities, but is a helpless boy in the 
presence of Delilah a characteristic which prompted 
our sages to remark: "Samson followed his eyes." 

"It is foolish to command others, and not to be 
able to control ourselves." Syrus. 

Cn nnx) nv nx tpnian TITJ IDPN 

"Stuitum est imperare caeteros qui nesoit sibi." 



XXXVIII. 
"Who is wise? He who learns from every man." Tal. 

To Pythagoras we are indebted for the term 
philosopher. Herefusedtobe called wise, and thought 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 37 

that man could be at best only a lover of wisdom. 
For the same reason our sages preferred the title of 
Talmid Chacham (pupil of the wise) to that of wise. 

The wise man is pre-eminently a student, and 
learns even when teaching. Rabbi Chaninah used to 
say: "Much I have learned from my teachers, more 
from my associates, but most from my pupils." 

It is a bad sign, if one thinks he has finished 
school, or he has to look to the clouds for a teacher. 
Thought is bountifully diffused. Rabbi Jochanan 
taught that by being observant, we could learn many 
a moral lesson even in the zoological realm. 

King Solomon, you remember, refers to the ant, 
that creeping dot, as an efficient professor of economy 
and .industry. 

As to man, how much could be learned from 
him? "Surely, the proper study of mankind is man." 

"No one is sufficiently wise by himself." Plautus. 
Cn nnx) DIK fc noftn Dan 

Nemo solus satis sapis. Mil. Glor. iii. 



XXXIX. 

"Who is honored? He who honors others." Tal. 

It is said about Napoleon, as he returned in a 
coach from his successful wars with Italy and Austria, 
the people everywhere manifested their loyalty and 
admiration in a loud and conspicuous manner, but 



38 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

he took little notice of all the proceedings. Bourienne, 
who sat with the Emperor, said to him: "It must be 
delightful to be greeted with such demonstrations of 
love and attachment." "Bah!" Napoleon said, "this 
same unthinking crowd, under a slight change of cir- 
cumstances, would just as eagerly follow me to the 
scaffold." Little's H. L. 

Honor must be reciprocal. He who receives it 
must have a good opinion about the one who confers 
it, and unless one sees and honors God in His 
creation all honors are farcical. 

"He who can . . . honor anyone, will quickly be 
honored himself." Seneca. 

Cn rvax) nv-on nx naaon 13120 nr 

Qui sic aliquem vereri potest cito erit verendus. Ep. jd. 



XL. 
"Who is rich? He who takes delight in his portion." 

The most of us claim a share in wisdom. We may 
have minutes of recognizing our stupidity, but self- 
infatuation quickly returns, and is the printing press 
of our opinions, and the mint of our actions. What 
is more natural to us than that we should be num- 
bered among the wise? Do we not despise that man 
as a blasphemer who dares to question our wisdom? 
Not so as to riches. Our discontent and incessant 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 39 

struggle for more and more evidences that the world 
is a poor-house and its inmates are beggars. 

The fact however, is that the rich by far out- 
number the wise, and if there are comparatively so 
few who consider themselves actually rich, it is on 
account of the scarcity of wisdom. 

"You cannot, with propriety, call him happy who 
possesses much; he more justly claims the title of 
happy man who understands how to make a wise use 
of the gifts of the gods." Horace. 

mi nm ii> e^e> hi VB>y I.IPN 
(ra nae>) o"n *ian npya 

Non possidentem multa vocaveris recte beatum; radius 
occupat nomen beati, qui deorum muneribus sapienter uti. 

Ode iv, 9. 



XLI. 

"Which is the summum bonum? A good heart." To/. 

The dialogue form of philosophy is older than 
are the writings of Plato. The book of Job is dia- 
logue from beginning to the end, and a more inspir- 
ing philosophy is nowhere found. 

In the Talmud that method of philosophising is 
fruitfully applied, and our heading is an abreviation of 
a paragraph in the second chapter of the Sayings of 
the Fathers, where a master and his disciples briefly 
discuss a subject which is at the bottom of all sound 
philosophy. 



40 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

Rabbi Jochanan, the founder of the famous 
school at Jamnia, proposes to his disciples to care- 
fully consider that something in which the truly reli- 
gious life centers. "Go and see," he says, "which 
virtue, which quality a man should cultivate with the 
utmost care and solicitude." 

Rabbi Elieser answered: "A good eye," that is 
contentedness and pleasantness, which regards the 
whole world as if it were a bouquet in the hand of 
God. 

Rabbi Joshua answered: "A good friend." This 
sage thought that we cannot afford to treat all alike, 
but out of the whole mass of men we ought to select 
some one to whom we should attach ourselves, and 
that some one, it is understood, must be a good per- 
son, capable of uplifting his associate. 

Seneca quotes Epicure to have said: "You must 
be more careful with whom you eat, than what you 
eat. For good cheer without a friend is the life of a 
lion or wolf." 

Rabbi Jose answered: "A good neighbor," that 
is good surroundings. 

"I consider neighborhood the first step to friend- 
ship." Terence. 

Rabbi Sirnon answered: "Looking ahead." 
"The cautious seldom err." Confucius. 

Rabbi Elasar answered: "A good heart." And 
the master declared this answer the best of all. 

That the golden rule is altogether omitted from 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 41 

this discussion goes to show that Hillel did not press 
it upon his disciples as the test and criterion of the 
good life, and the sum total of Judaism. Had he done 
so, then Rabbi Jochanan, who was the exponent of 
his teachings, would either not have propounded the 
question of 'the chief good which he must have re- 
garded as settled, or if he had done it with a view of 
enlightening his disciples on the subject, or of testing 
their reasoning and speculative faculty, he would, at 
least, have done his master the honor of quoting his 
favorite saying as the torch of life. 

Hillel gave utterance to that rule accidentally 
only, and in a sense suitable to the occasion. A 
heathen came to him, and expressed the desire of 
embracing Judaism on the condition to be instructed 
in all its precepts and tenets while he stood on one 
foot. Hillel saw that he had to deal with an impudent 
fellow. "Stans in pede una," (standing on one foot) 
was a satirical phrase. And he cited the golden rule as 
a lesson which the heathen was most in need of at the 
time. "What is disagreeable to you, do not unto 
others." Hillel meant to say: "You came to have 
sport with me, how would you like it if others sported 
with you?" 

To declare that rule the quintessence of Judaism ; 
the apex, and all other teachings as its supporters ; 
the great general, for whose safety and elevation all 
other teachings and usages are in the field, is to make 
the idea of God subservient to the purpose of man. 



42 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

Moreover, that rule raising, as it does, the ego of each 
individual as the measure and standard of the conduct 
of others, as the supreme court and sovereign of our 
entire being, is destructive to all rule, since there is 
among men a signal difference in the temperament, 
taste, desire, circumstances and even in the concep- 
tion of right and wrong. According to that rule, a 
man has to consult in every case his likes and dislikes, 
and make his actions fit the one or the other. A man, 
for instance, who detests to be advised and corrected, 
would have absolutely no right to let others have the 
benefit of his advice. A man who thinks it shameful 
and unmanly to receive charity, and is satisfied in his 
mind that, were he poor, he would rather starve than 
make use of the kindness of people, would be per- 
fectly justified to refuse every application of the needy 
for assistance. 

Time and again inquiry was made into the fun- 
damental principle of Judaism with no favorable 
result, which goes to show that there has been no 
unanimity on the subject among the learned in Israel, 
and that it is an ungrateful task, as the Marsho puts 
it, "to make Judaism stand on one foot." (See the 
following chapter.) 

Rabbi Elasar's answer that the good heart is 
the chief good, leaves enough room for speculation. 
What constitutes the good heart? Is not the good 
heart easily misled? Can the good heart be acquired? 
But in the sense that the chief good is the good which 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 43 

has its spring in the heart, it may be said that Rabbi 
Elasar struck the highest keynote. Without the heart 
pleasantness is only a painted flower, friendship an 
impossibility, foresight makes the pedant, and religion 
leads to hypocrisy. 

According to Seneca, the chief good depends 
upon the judgment and the possession of a virtuous 
mind. 

Dixn ra pyre? raio i~n arn IPK 

C3 's JTQK) ma 3^ 

Summum bonum in ipso iudicio est, et habitu optimae 
mentis. De Vit Bea. ix. 



XLII. 

" Which passage in the Bible," says Bar Kappara, "com- 
prises all the essentials of the Thora (Law)? That 
which in the book of Proverbs reads: 'In all thy 
ways asknowledge Him, and He will make level thy 
path.' " 

Bar Kappara was not the only Talmudic sage 
who read the Bible with such discrimination. Other 
sages have done the same thing. Rabbi Akiba, for 
instance, designated the injunction of love for fellow- 
man as the emphasis of revelation. Ben Azai found 
more light in the words : "This is the book of the gen- 
erations of Adam." Ben Zoma recognized the supre- 
macy of the passage: "Hear, O Israel, the Eternal is 



44 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

our God, the Eternal is One. "Ben Pazai was satisfied 
that the words: "And the one lamb thou shalt take 
in the morning," were the most significant in Scrip- 
tures. And while Rabbi Simlai accorded to the 
teaching of the Prophet Amos: "Seek me and ye shall 
live," the merit of comprehensiveness, Rabbi Nach- 
man was more pleased with the words of Habakkuk: 
"And the righteous shall live by his faith." 

Even in the Bible, where every letter stands for 
something and every dot is suggestive, there is a 
gradation of meaning. Happy, he who finds in it the 
most fertile spot, and the fountain-head of instruction 
and enlightenment. 

Reading is a privilege. The book is the chief 
victory of man. "Were I to pray for a taste," says 
Sir John Hershel, "which should stand me instead 
under every variety of circumstances, and be a source 
of happiness and cheerfulness to me during life, and a 
shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, 
and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for 
reading." But there is economy to be used in that 
exercise. Not all books are desirable auxiliaries, and 
the pages of the best book have not the same value 
and importance. To know to imbibe the good of the 
good i>ook, as the bee knows how to extract honey 
from the flower, is an enviable accomplishment. 

To be sure, the Jew knew how to use his Bible. 
It was to him in its entirety the gift of God. He read 
it again and again. Yet he took out of it one verse 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 45 

which he attached to his name the first letter of that 
verse corresponded to the first letter of his name 
and that was his theme of meditation in solitude, his 
weapon in danger, his protector against temptation, 
a lamp to his feet, the companion of his mind, and a 
part of his consciousness. It was the diminutive 
Bible he carried in his very bosom, and hoped to use 
it as a pass-word at the Gate of Heaven. "That I, 
too, do," Seneca writes, "of the many things I read, 
I apprehend somewhat." 

p!>n min <au bt? ruop nene NTI irx 
(J"D rvo-Q) m 

"Hoc ipse quoque facio: ex pluribus, quae legi aliquid 
adprehendo." Ep. ii. 



XLIII. 

"And he brought a very fine glass and broke it, and they, 
(the invited guests) became sad." Tal. 

Rabbi Ashi, at the wedding of his son sought to 
lower the tone of hilarity of the invited guests by 
breaking a glass in a conspicuous manner. 

This incident explains the origin of the usage of 
breaking a glass at a wedding. (See Tosefoth.) 

"Fortune is like glass, it breaks while shining." 

Syrus. 



"Fortuna vitrea est, turn cum splendet frangitur." 



46 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

XLIV. 

"The world has been given over to fools." 

Rabbi Acha made the insinuation when he was 
informed that Rabbi Chisdai, a high state official, 
could give no satisfactory answer, when asked by 
King Shabur, whether there was an injunction in the 
Bible concerning burial. 

"All places are replete with fools." Cicero. 

(1"D '-IHJD) 'NPEtn T3 Vxby nDD'K 
"Stultorum plena sunt omnia." Ep. ix, 22. 



XLV. 

"Man does not know whereby he may profit." Tal. 

Cromwell used to say: "One never goes up so 
high as when one goes, and one does not know 
where one goes." 

"Let your hooks always be ready; in the pool 
where you least expect, there a fish will be." Ovid. 
(Y'j D'riDB) i3ne>D noa jnv DIN px 

"Semper tibi pendeat hamus, quo minime credas gurgiite 
piscis erit." Art. Am. iii, 425. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 47 

XLVI. 
"Let your heart be in your study." Tal. 

Cicero quotes a Greek proverb expressing the 
same thought: "Apply your talent where best you are 
skilled." 

(: & yy) pan n^ Dipoo t6x mm 10^ DIN fx 

"Quam quisque norit artem in hac re exerceat." 

Tus. i, 18. 



XLVII. 

"No man is 'expected to admit that he is wicked." Tal. 

No man is to accuse himself unless it were before 
God. L. Mat. 

(n"a w) yen ivy D'tro DIK p 

"Accusare se nemo debet, nisi coram deo." 



XLVIII. 

"You do not cut your ringer unless it has been so 
decreed above." Tal. 

The idea is not that it is proclaimed in Heaven 
that this one or that one shall cut his finger, but that 
law governs all things, and even such a small thing 
as cutting one's finger occurs according to law being 



48 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

the effect of carelessly handling a thing with a sharp 
edge. There is no such thing as chance. The law 
of cause and effect operates everywhere, and as the 
law has its origin in the Deity, it may be said philoso- 
phically, that whatever happens has been decreed 
above. "He who is the builder and creator of all has 
written the fate of all." Seneca. 
or !>in) rtota v^y roo a"N 



"Ille ipse omnium conditor et rector scripsit quidem 
fata." De Prov. v. 



XLIX. 

"No man is suspected of having done anything unless 
he has done it, or has done some of it, or had at 
least the thought of doing it." Tal. 

Malice is one thing, and suspicion is another. 
The wiles of hatred do not come under this heading. 
Nor is here meant the suspicion which is begotten 
by a feverish imagination, that arch blunderer that 
sees spectres climb the lamp-post, and mocking 
faces float in the vacant air. 

But the suspicion conceived and kept up by the 
impartial and sober-minded is not without some 
foundation. 

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, 
and all of the people some of the time, but you can- 
not fool all of the people all of the time." Lincoln. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 49 

"No one has ever deceived all, nor have all ever 
deceived one." Pliny. 

rwy "613 rwy vf? DKI IMW p DK K^N 1313 nt?m DIK p 

(: TV p"o) 'iDi invpo 

"Nemo omnes, n em in em omnes fefellerunt." Pangyr, 62. 



L. 

"A man is not accountable for what he says or does 
under the influence of pain and grief." To/. 

Heine, perhaps, thought of this passage when he 
ridiculed the priests, who, in proof of the indispensi- 
bility of religion, boastfully cite the fact that some of 
the outspoken atheists and sceptics have, in the last 
hour of their lives, expressed a desire for the sacra- 
ment. This, according to the illustrious humorist, 
argues against the priests inasmuch as it goes to 
show that as long as those men had their wits they 
were above such needs. 

In the Talmud, however, the saying is used in a 
solemn sense, in answer to a serious question con- 
cerning the believer. Why is it, that he, too, weeps 
and mourns over losses? Believing in Providence 
and the noble destiny of man, is it not rather incon- 
sistent to lament death which to him is the door to 
his better and real home? 

The answer is, that allowance must be made for 
some inconsistencies. Religion seeks to refine our 



50 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

nature and not to destroy it; to soften our heart and 
not to harden it; to purify our earthly relations and 
not to annul them. The sages take the hint from 
Holy Writ. Job, in his state of intense suffering, is 
not free from impious utterances, and is not charged 
with heresy or blasphemy. 

"What shame or bound can there be to our affec- 
tionate regret for so dear a person." Horace. 

C TB 3''2) V1J? JW3 DQJ-U DIN fK 
"Quis desiderio sit pudor out modus tarn cari capitis." 



LI. 

"No man sees his own guilt." Tal. 

We have an excuse for every mistake we make, 
and a euphonious name for every vice we have. Thus. 
"the timid claims to be cautious, and the miser frugal." 

Lat. Prov, 



"Timidus se vocat cautum parcum sordidus." 



LII. 

"Not hay, but meat makes the lion roar." Tal. 

The criticism to which the successful man is often 
subjected to by such as fail in the emulation is in 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 51 

many instances unjust. What assurance have we thafi 
we would act better in his circumstances? Unless we 
belong to the class of the godly, who pray not for 
riches, but for daily bread, we have no right to cen- 
sure the sons of a better fate. Acquire wealth and 
your definition of charity and quality will radically 
change. 

"Even the most illustrious generals became in- 
solent in prosperity." Tacitus. 
(I 1 *? n~a) nea hw &6x pn }v naip ^ino omj n px 

"Rebus secundis etiam egregrios duces indolescere." 

Hist, id, 7. 



Lilt 

"Say before the dead what is creditable to the dead." 

Tal. 

"Nothing should be said about the dead, if not 
good." Lot. Prov. 

nia-a) 'i3i no ^ vnm N^N non ^22 pnoix ps 

"De mortuis nil nisi bonum." 



LIV. 

"The son of David Messiah, will come at a time when 
it will be difficult to procure a fish for a patient." 

Tal 

The belief was that the Messiah will come when 
the general condition of things will be very critical. 



52 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

Can we conceive of harder times than when fish are 
rare? Plutarch quotes the following as a favorite 
saying of Cato: "It is hard to preserve a city when a 
fish sold for more than an ox." 
(n" Truo) N <1 N^I rh\rh n B>p3n>B> ny NU in p p 

"Difficulter posse salvam esse urbem in qua majoris 
pisois quam bos venerat. Plut. Cato. Ma. 



LV. 

"The blessing is in the thing which is hidden from the 
eye." Tal. 

The eye is not an ever competent and safe guide 
Though its services are beyond all computation, and 
we can ill afford to keep the shutters always closed 
upon it, we are bound to go astray if we place too 
much confidence in this whimsical sovereign of our 
senses, which often magnifies and diminishes things, 

There is no thing which discloses to the eye or 
any other sense, its inner being. Subtract from any 
given object its attributes or those characteristics by 
which it is known, and an unknowable something is 
left in which these attributes have their origin and 
sustenance. 

Then we have to consider that everything has 
a relation to something else which determines its real 
value. We enjoy the present hour because we hope 
that there is another one for us in waiting. What, if 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 53 

we knew that this was our last, the luminaries of the 
lighted firmament could not comfort and calm us. 

"Our knowledge," says Buckle, "is composed not 
of facts, but of relations which facts and ideas bear 
to themselves and to each other, and real knowledge 
consists not of an acquaintance with facts, which only 
make the pedant, but in the relation of facts which 
makes the philosopher." 

"Let the soul find out the good of the soul." 

Seneca. 
(n myn) pyn jo "loon -im vh* mvo naian pK 

"Animi bonum animus inveniat." De Vit. Bea. ii. 



LVI. 

"A handful does not satisfy the lion." To/. 

It is one thing to deal with the multitude and 
another, to deal with an individual. 

Some Talmudists take the saying in the sense 
that the grasshopper does not satisfy the lion, and it 
reminds of the Latin Prov.: "The eagle does not 
catch flies." 

('a rvD-a) nn rm yyyo }>ipn px 

"Aquila non capit muscas." 



54 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

LVII. 

"The captive cannot accomplish his own release." Tal, 

In some instances our helplessness and depend- 
ence upon others is more apparent than in others, but 
in reality, we are always inadequate to the task, and 
in need of some support and lifting hand. Independ- 
ence is a shallow phrase. The link must be attached 
to another link to be a part of the chain. "The bell 
must be pulled, that its sounds shall be heard." 
Thoughts need the wing of language. 

Success is not independent. The teacher must 
have pupils, the author readers, the potentate 
subjects. 

Abuzurg-Mihir, the Persian Seneca, is said to 
have invented the play of chess, with a view of prov- 
ing to King Hormuz how little the ruler can do with- 
out the assistance and protection of army and people. 

"No one is sufficiently strong to rise by himself; 
some helping hand is always necessary." Seneca. 

Cfl DSJ>) DniDXn JT30 lEtfJ? Tf0 Bnan |>N 
"Nemo per se satis valet ut emergat." Ep. 52. 



LVIII. 

'It is in the work of the loom that woman is expected 
to show her wisdom." Tal. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 55 

So Rabbi Elieser observed, when a woman em- 
barrassed him by raising the question, why the 
worshippers of the golden calf did not all die the 
same death, since they committed the same sin. What 
he meant to say is what Lord Littleton expressed 
with the help of the muse 

"Seek to be good, but aim not to be great: 
A woman's noblet station is Retreat, 
Her fairest virtues fly from public sight, 
Domestic worth that shuns too strong a light." 

Theodorus, annoyed by the arguments of the 
female philosopher Hypparchia, asked: "Who is the 
woman that left the shuttle so near the warp?" 

Juvenal is too severe on the literary woman when 
he says: "I hate her who is forever poring over and 
studying Palaemo's treatise; who never violates the 
rules and principles of grammar, and, skilled in anti- 
quarian lore, quotes verses I never knew, and corrects 
the phrases of her friend as old-fashioned which mer 
would never heed. A husband should have the priv- 
ilege of committing some solecism." 



"Odi hanc ego quae repetit volvitque Palaemonis artem 
soloecismus liceat fecisse marito." Sat. vi. 



56 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

LIX. 

"Do not attack a dead lion." Tal. 

The great man is frequently called in the Talmud 
Hon. To attack a great man when he can no longer 
defend himself, is as cowardly as to wreak venge- 
ance on a dead lion. 

"That he knew and was well aware that nothing 
was easier than to ascribe the blame of an act to the 
dead." Caesar. 

era pay) inio ~\nvb nun nx pyeno p 

"Scire et intelligere caussam peccati facillime mortuis 
delegari." Bel. Gol. vii, 26. 



LX. 

"No monuments are erected unto the righteous. Their 
words perpetuate their memory." Tal. 

"The erection of a monument is useless: the 
remembrance of us will last if we have deserved it 
by our lives." Plin. m. 

("i <{ ?\>v} D'pHV^ nit^DJ ptiny p 

"Impensa monumenti supervacua est; memoria nostra 
durabit si vita meruimus." 'ix, 19. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 57 

LXI. 

"No one is so poor as he who has no sense." Talmud. 

"There is nothing either good or bad, but think- 
ing makes it so." Shakespeare. 

"The mind is the master of every kind of fortune: 
itself acts in both ways, being the cause of its own 
happiness and misery." Seneca. 



nyna N>N vy r 

"Valentior omni fortuna animus est." Ep. 98. 



LXII. 

"The habitual disputant can be no defender." Tal. 

"In excessive altercation, truth is lost." Syrus. 
('n' nia-a) -nrjo npyj -wap JK 

"Nimium altercando veritas amittitur." 



LXIII. 

"You cannot compare the foolishness which is harmful 
to that which is innocent" Tal. 

How we enjoy the foolish prattling of children! 
Thus, there is many a joke which may be appreciated 
by the devout religionist. Austerity is no virtue and 



58 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

joviality no vice. But the humor which misrepre- 
sents principle, and sports with the moral feeling, is 
like an obscene picture. 

''That laughter costs too much which is pur- 
chased by the sacrifice of principle." Juvenal. 
(typ rot?) Nton 13 PNC? i>3r6 Nan 13 tw ^3n nn I^N 

"N'imium risus pretium est si probitatis impendio 
constat." vi, 3. 



LXIV. 

"Do not compare the man who has a subsistence to the 
one who is without it." Tal. 

Our disposition and character are in alliance with 
the body. The stomach is the autocrat whose man- 
dates must be attended to. Hunger is a despicable 
tyrant, and the care for the next day's food will en- 
able to do many a thing which under other circum- 
stances might not be dreamed of. 

"The belly is the teacher of art and the bestower 
of genius." Persius. 
(Y'y NOV) 1^03 na if> PNG? ^ 1^03 ns i$> GW ^ non I^N 

"Magister artium ingeniique Jargitor venter." Prologue. 



LXV. 

"There is a difference between learning one's lesson a 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 59 

hundred times and learning it a hundred and one 
times." Tal. 

Study makes the scholar, and if we desire to 
master a branch of knowledge it is not enough to 
resort to it occasionally, but we have to build our 
nest in it, and make it our home. 

There are precepts in our religion which cannot 
be sufficiently repeated because they are the beacon 
lights on our path. If one said: "I know them there- 
fore I can do without their recital, it was regarded by 
the Talmudic sages as an unmistaken sign of the de- 
crease of his religious fervor. Our old ritual contains 
not only the forcible expression of daily supplication 
and thanksgiving, but the essence of the theology and 
doctrinal portion of Judaism. How dear It was to 
our fathers ! Every day it had the interest and novelty 
of a new revelation. 

"That never is too often said which cannot be 
sufficiently learned." Scucca. 

'nya nxn ipis ny\vb n^oya nx ip-ia rwt? nn irs 

CD reran) 

"Nunquam nimis dicitur quod nunquam satis discitur." 



LXVI. 

"A stater (small coin) is in the vase, what a noise it 
makes." Tal. 

Among shallow surroundings it is an easy matter 



60 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

to be noticeable. Among weaklings a man with little 
strength is feared as an athlete. Among beggars one 
having something in his purse is envied for his wealth. 
Among the utterly uninstructed a. man having the 
ability to read and write is admired for his scholarship. 
Then again, our saying may be taken in the sense 
of the Latin proverb: "Empty vessels give out the 
loudest sound." 



Vasa vacua plurimum sonant." 



LXVII. 
"Woman spins while she speaks." Tal. 

Literally, it means that she is loquacious. Figur- 
atively, it implies that there is method in her talk- 
ativeness. She aims at something. 

"It is easy for you women to counterfeit your 
words and your actions." Propertius. 

(Y" 1 n^o) ND^Q xnit? nra xnn-'K 

"Sed vobis facile est verba et eomponere fraudes." ii, 5. 



LXVIII. 

"Thy wife is short, bow down and consult her." Tal. 

How do you like that sentiment, my dear female 
reader? Believe it, tftnat the Talmudic sages had the 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 61 

highest regard for your sex. Consider the following 
Talmudic expression: "He who lives without a wife 
lives without joy, without light, without peace." 
Again: "He who has no wife is no complete man." 
And again: "A husband should love his wife like 
himself, and honor her more than himself." And 
again: "Let every husband be solicitous about the 
honor of his wife, for it is through her that a house- 
hold is blessed." 

Plutarch quotes Cato to have said: "Men gener- 
ally govern women, but we command all men, and 
women command us." 

(si o"3) rh nr6rn pro KVIJ inrvt* 

"Omnes homines mulierebus imperamt nos omnibus 
hominibus, nobis mulieres." Cat. Ma. 



LXIX. 

"The wife of Korah, said to her husband: 'Behold what 
Moses is doing! He is king. His brother he made 
high priest, the sons of his brother he made 
priests.' " 

"There are few disputes in life which do not 
originate with a woman." Juvenal. 

0"p p-nruD) nw Tayp wo nn ^"K mpn rrnrvN 

"Nulla fere causa est in qua non foemina litem moverit." 

Sat. iv. 



62 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

LXX. 

"To eat vegetables with a tr'anquil mind is preferable to 
eating poultry and have palpitation of heart in con- 
sequence thereof." Tal. 

The Midrash tells of a fox who fasted three days 
in order to enter an orchard through a small open- 
ing of the fence. Having banquetted therein for 
three days he became so fat that he could not make his 
exit through the same loop-hole. Remembering, 
that he will be severely punished if discovered, he 
fasted again three days to make his escape possible 

"Now learn what, and how great benefits a 
temperate diet will bring with it." Hor. 
CTp DTIDS) i>l 3C>1 *?"*! ^DK 
"Quae virtus et quanta boni sit vivere parvo di.scite." 



LXXI. 

"Let no one distribute more than one-fifth of his income 
among the poor, that he should niot become an 
object of charity himself." 

According to a tradition, Moses introduced the 
system of tithes, not only for the benefit of the poor, 
but the protecfion of the rich. When he enunciated 
to the children of Israel the divine lesson of brotherly 
love, it kindled in them an enthusiasm which caused 
many of them to give away all they had. He saw 
the danger which such an utter disregard for self 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 63 

brings with it, and counteracted it. "It is enough if 
one gives the tenth part of his income." But to spend 
more than one-fifth of his income is to wrong one- 
self. 

"Our purse should neither be so closed that our 
generosity cannot open it, nor so unfastened that it 
lies open to all, a bound should be set and bear 
reference to our means." Cicero. 

CJ nninD) traino inv DIN DTT ^ 

"Nee ita claudenda res est familiaris ut team benignkas 
aperire non possit, nee ita reseranda, tut pateait omnibus." 

De off. ii, 15. 



LXXII. 

"Do not trust thyself until the day of death." Tal. 

Epaminondas being asked which of the three he 
held in greatest esteem, Chabrias, Iphicrates or him- 
self. "You must see us die before that question can 
be settled," was his reply. 

Solon, too said, being asked by Croesus to pro- 
nounce him the happiest man: "No one is to be 
regarded happy before his death." Ovid. 
C3 nnx) into DV ny ~p\'jD rxn hx 

"Dicique beatus ante obitum nemo." Met. 



64 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

LXXIII. 

"Do not live in a city the governors of which are 
philosophers." Tal. 

Frederick the Great is reported to have said: 
"If I wanted to ruin one of my provinces, I would 
make over its government to the philosophers." 
Buckl. 

"The state of philosophers is such as the learned 
man imagine but cannot be established." Lev. 
0"'p TIDS) D'eon 'Ti^n iTK>&oe> vjn inn ^N 

"Sapientiuim civitas, quam docti fingunt magis quam 
norunt." xxvi, 22. 



LXXIV. 

"Despise no man and disparage no thing, for there is 
<no man who has not his hour, and no thing which 
has not its place." 

We do not know ourselves, how can we sit in 
judgment over others? The man whom we condemn 
for his misdemeanor, may in the next hour rise 
superior to us. "The breadth of two fingers only 
separates the abode of the faithful from the place of 
the wicked." 

Socially, too, that despised man may live to see 
a change for the better. We landed in this world 
with less than the poorest man has. We did not bring 
even a rag with us. His turn will be yet. He may 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 65 

become our benefactor, our biographer, the sculptor 
of our monument, or the digger of our grave. 

Things, too, have their great possibilities. The 
diamond which glitters on the bosom of our love was 
originally a vegetable. The mountain which lifts up 
its proud summit as if in support of the firmament, 
may be the growth and outcome of a little stone 
which a playful lad threw to catch a bird. 

What is more insignificant than the death of an 
animal! No priest chants mass, no Rabbi recites the 
Kadish, and no relative sheds a tear. Yet, it is with 
bones of extinct species that long established creeds 
are being stormed. 

Ye gods of Egypt! You are avenged. Your 
rotten bones have become a menace to the theology 
that demolished your temples. 

The mastadon rises and altars tremble; a petri- 
fied butterfly is unearthed and there is joy among 
scientists, and consternation in the camp of 
orthodoxy. 

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, 
Horatio, than are dreamed of in our philosophy." 



66 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"It would be quite advantageous to examine 
those things which appear trifles at first sight, but out 
of which develop great events." Tacitus. 



("i nnN) in JDE '?in w DIN n <nn N 

"Non sine usu fuerit introspicere ilia primo aspectu levia, 
ex quibus magnarum saepe rerum motus oriuntur." 

An. iv, 32. 



LXXV. 

"Let the curse of an ordinary person not be light in 
thine eyes." Tal. 

"Nothing is so strong, but may be endangered, 
even by the weakest." Quint. Cur. 



(Y'v p"a) T^JO rp cvnn 

"Nihil tarn firmum, cui periculum non sit etiam ab 
invalido." vii, 8. 



LXXVI. 

"Do not attempt to console your woe-stricken friend 
while the dead is still before him." Tal. 

"As a fresh wound shrinks from the hand of the 
surgeon, then gradually submits to it and even calls 
for it; so the mind under the first impression of mis- 



' ECHOES OF WISDOM 67 

fortune shuns and rejects all comfort, but at length 
if touched with tenderness, calmly and willingly 
resigns." Pliny Minor. 



Cn rvQK) VJE iD mot? wa innrun K 

"Ut enim crudum adhuc vulnus medentium manus 
reformidat, deinde patitur, atque ultro requirit etc." 

Hist, v, 16. 



LXXVII. 

"Do not maim yourself." 

A sensible person will not cut off his nose or any 
part of his body. Hence, the saying cannot be taken 
literally. Nor does it refer to moral disfigurement. 
Plainer language would have been used in that case. 
It is an advice, according to the Talmud, given by a 
father to his son, not to weaken his position in busi- 
ness. For instance, if one goes in partnership with 
three persons, he will have to sacrifice his interest to 
their interest for fear they might conspire against 
him, one of them will appear as his accuser and the 
other two as witnesses against him- 

Emerson, however, might take our saying to 
mean what he expressed in the following words: 
"Why should we make it a point with our modesty to 
disparage that man we are, and that form of being 
assigned to us? A good man is contented." 



68 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

Yet to Martian's, we would have to give the credit 
of originality in this point. For he said long before 
Emerson: "Be satisfied with what you are, and 
have no desire to be anything else." 

(a"^p D^noB) -jovya DIO vyn ^ 

"Quod sis, esse velis, nihilque malis." x, 47. 



LXXVIII. 

"Do not worry over the possible mishaps of to-morrow, 
for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." 

Tal. 

"Such," says Montaign, "as accuse mankind of 
the folly of gaping and panting after future things, and 
advise us to make our 'benefits of those which are 
present, and to set up and rest upon them as having 
too short a reach to lay hold upon that which is to 
come have hit upon the most universal of human 
errors. For we are never present with, but always 
beyond ourselves. Fear, desire and hope are still 
pushing us on towards the future, depriving us in the 
meantime of the sum and consideration of that which 
is to amuse us, with the thought of what shall be, 
even when we are no more." 

"Do not seek to know what will happen to- 
morrow." Hor. 

nno NP DV i^v TO jnn vb ^ tno rm nvn ^>N 



"Quid sit futurum eras fuge quaerere." i, 9. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 69 

LXXIX. 

"Do not sit, do not stand, do not walk excessively." 

Tal 

"There is a mean in all things." Hor. 
(K'" 1 ? 'svw) n3B"3 nmn *?x 

"Est modus in rebus." Sat. i, I. 



LXXX. 



"Do not seek to reconcile your friend while he is in a 
state of anger." Tal. 

"Anger is a passing madness." Hor. 
Cn rvoK) IDJD nyt?3 Tnn n rmn ta 

"Ira furor brevis est." Ep. i, 2. 



LXXXI. 

"Do not engage in scholarly discussion on the road." 

Tal. 

You might lose your way. Thales was looking 
up to the stars while walking along a river, and fell 
into it. Satire observed: "Had Thaks looked into the 
river, he could have seen the stars." 



yo ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"No one sees what is before him. They scru- 
tinize the starry region." Cicero. 



('" myn) mn nm ipoynn >x 

"Qod est ante pedes nemo spectat, coeli plagas 
scrutantur." Divin. ii, 13. 



LXXXII. 

"These as well as these are wards spoken in the 
religious spirit, yet those of the school of Hillel 
shall prevail." To/. 

Hillel and Shamai were contemporaneous 
teachers of great renown in Israel. Their names 
are closely united like those of Shmayah and 
Abtalion. Yet in disposition and method they were 
no more like one another than Democritus and 
Heraclitus. 

Hillel was cheerful and patient; Shamai austere 
and irritable. The people whom Shamai drove away 
were cordially received by Hillel. Hillel enjoyed the 
present making at the same time provision for the 
future ; Shamai sacrificed the present to the future. 

Their teachings exhibited the same differences. 
Those of Hillel were liberal, progressive and in touch 
with the conditions of the times. Those of Shamai 
were rigorous and restrictively uncompromising. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 71 

Both founded schools which vied with one an- 
other in carrying out the instruction, upholding the 
method and absorbing the spirit and individuality of 
their respective masters. 

For several years the Beth Hillel and Beth 
Shamai, (so those schools were called), had disputed 
about a question, when a voice from above, (Bath Kol) 
proclaimed that the arguments of both schools were 
equally pleasing and acceptable, yet the decision is in 
favor of the school of Hillel. 

The Talmud properly asks: "Why has it been 
decided in favor of the school of Hillel, since the 
school of Shamai did equally as well?" And the 
answer is: "Because the school of Hillel was patient, 
submissive and honored its opponent, the school of 
Shamai." 

It is to be regretted that there should be con- 
troversy. Those who rejoice in the existence of 
difference of opinion ignore the fact that we are not 
all philosophically built. The remark which Male- 
branche made: "If I held truth captive in my hand, I 
should open my hand and let it fly, in order that I 
might pursue and capture it," is at best a pretty 
extemporization. Malebranche, perhaps, could 
capture truth, could "let it fly" and capture it again. 
But we simpletons do not understand that kind of 
game. 

Controversy is always more or less mischievous. 
The storm which purifies the air and assists growth 



72 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

works destruction at the saime time. So controversy. 
While it promotes the interest of truth, creates doubt 
somewhere, and while it seeks to establish certainty, 
proves that there is no certainty. 

But since there is no other method for the exten- 
sion of the government of truth, the manner in which 
the school of Hillel disputed is worthy of consider- 
ation and emulation. 

"Yield to thy opponent, by yielding, thou shalt 
come out victor." Ovid. 



"Cedo repugnanti; cedendo victor abibis." Art. Am. ii. 



LXXXIII. 

"If it is truth, why then should it be called parable?" 

The object of the parable is to bring truth nearer 
home. 

"Art is the agency of the inexpressible." Schiller. 

Our higher mental efforts are in the service of 
the majesty of truth. We flatter fiction if we take 
it for truth, but there is no grosser insult than when 
we let truth pass for fiction. 

Truth is self-supporting; when established, it 
takes care of itself. Mathematical truth, for instance, 
is not in need of the lordly hexameter of a Homer 
for its immortalization. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 73 

"A good understanding and right sense can well 
dispense with the flowers of art." Goethe. 

"I lay aside both, verses and all other sportive 
matter; my study and inquiry is often what is true 
and fitting." Horace. 



"Nunc itaque et versus et cetera ludicraoono,quidverum 
atque decens euro et rogo." Ep. i. 



LXXXIV. 

''If I am here all are; if I am not here, \vh.) is?" TaL 

No person is irreplaceable to the extent that 
things should come to a stand-still without him. 
Parents breath their last, and their children continue 
to live and prosped- Great leaders pass away, and 
are quickly succeeded by others. The world moves 
on no matter who steps out of it. Perhaps there are 
such as think that Atlas-like they carry our globe, 
and if they go down it must go with them. Hillel, 
the author of our saying, certainly did not belong to 
that class. 

What he meant to say is, that if good was to be 
done, and he could do it, he did not acquiesce in the 
supposition that it will be done by others, but did it 
himself on the principle that if he did not perform his 
function properly, he had no right to expect others 
to be more anxious to do their duty. 



74 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"The people expect of those greater than they, 
greater things."- Seneca. 

(y^ naio) |so T> jto 'j PN OKI 1x2 fen fan 'JK DN 

"Majora populus semper a summo exigit." Oct. 



LXXXV. 

"If you desire to strangle, let it be on a high tree." Tal. 

Rashi takes it in the sense, if you would overcome 
your opponent in argument cite a great authority. 
Indeed, we find in the Talmud that Hillel put an end 
to a very heated debate when he said: "I heard it from 
Shemayah and Abtalion." 

Quotation is ,both the jewelry and weapon of 
composition. It is a sign of respect for the work 
and opinion of others, elevation of authority by 
which the quoter, too, is raised. 

"It is generally supposed," says Disraeli, "that 
where there is no quotation, there will be found 
most originality . . . The greater part of our writers 
in consquence, have become so original, that no one 
cares to imitate them; and those who never quote are 
in return never -quoted." 

Another reading of the saying is: "If you 
desire to be strangled hang yourself on a large tree." 
This version may be taken in the sense, if you have !o 
ignore your own opinion and to act according to 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 75 

that of another one let it be according to the opinion 
of a great and acknowledged authority. 

It might also be understood to mean,if you have 
a particular wish to be vanquished in argument, begin 
one with a great man. But Rabbi Akiba, the father 
of the saying, would not be guilty of such a sarcasm. 

The Romans had a proverb: 

"Do not take a blind guide or a weak adviser." 
d"'p D s nDD) ^vw 'K:I n^nn pjrr6 n^pn DN 

"Neque caecum ducem neque amentesn consultorem." 



LXXXVI. 

"Though them art a high state official, remember that 
thy pedigree is well-known here." Tal. 

"Though thou art proud of thy wealth, thou art 
the man thou hast -been, fortune does not change 
birth." Horace. 

('1 3"2) |K3 "pSD "f?y -p"T DN 

"Licet superbus ambules pecunia, fortuna non mutat 
genus." Od. v, 4. 



LXXXVII. 

"If it is as clear as morning, say it" Tal. 

"If the good," says the friar in Nathan the Wise, 
"that I propose to do is somewhat twined with mis- 
chief, then I let the good alone." 



76 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"Those direct us properly who advise us not to 
do anything which we doubt whether it is right or 
wrong." Cicero. 

Cr "iruD) imosn !>x 156 DNI imox npaa -iTin $ -ira CN 

''Quocirca bene praecipiunt, qui vetant quicquam agere, 
quod dubites, aequum sit an iniquum." De off. i, 9. 



LXXXVIII. 

"If one says: "I have exerted myself and yet accom- 
plished nothing," do not believe him; "I have taken 
no pains and yet I reached the object," do not be j 
lieve; "I have worked and succeeded," believe him. 

Tal. 

Hillel was altogether without the means of a sub- 
sistence when he came from Babylon to Jerusalem, to 
quench his burning thirst for knowledge. During the 
day he chopped wood for a living, and studied in the 
evening at the school of Shemayah and Abtalion, 
where he divided with the porter of the same his 
scanty earnings in order to obtain admission. Once, 
it happened that he was not able to gratify the porter, 
and could not or would not seek free admission- 
But in order not to loose the benefit of the lecture, 
he climbed to the window-sill of the school and 
listened -there. 

About Rabbi Akiba the Talmud tells us that 
every day during his period of learning, he was in the 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 77 

habit of cutting bundles of straw, half of which he 
would sell for his needs and the other half use for 
light. His neighbors were not at all pleased with 
'his manner, and said: "Akiba, the smoke greatly 
annoys us. Sell us the straw and buy oil." But 
Rabbi Akiba answered: "The straw serves me in 
three ways, I study by its light, warm myself by its 
fire and make my bed on it at night." 

Moses Mendelson became deformed as a boy, 
in consequence of the persistent studies he made of 
the philosophical writings of Maimonides. When 
pursuing a course of studies in Berlin, he lived for a 
while on bread, and that, too, he used sparingly. In 
order not to overeat himself at one meal and then be 
left without food, he made cuts in the loaf of bread 
by which he knew how many meals he could make of 
it and how far he could go at each meal. 

Cleanthes was so poor, that "he was forced to 
undertake mercenary employments, and he used to 
draw water in the gardens at night, and by day he 
exercised himself in philosophical discussions; on 
which account he was called Phrenaulles. They also 
say that he was on one occasion brought before a 
court of police to be compelled to give an account of 
what his sources of income were; and that then he 
was acquitted, having produced as his witness the 
gardener, in whose garden he drew the water, and a 
woman who was a meal-seller in whose establishment 
he used to prepare the meal." Yonge's Diog-. Leart. 



78 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"The heights by great men reached and kept, 

Were not attained by sudden flight; 

But they, while their companions slept, 

Were toiling upward in the night." Longfellow. 

"Labor overcomes all things." Virgil. 

(1 n^JO) "31 PDW1 $>N TIKXD N^ 'J1W DIN "^ "ION 11 DN 
"Labor omnia vincit." G. i. 



LXXXIX. 

"If the young tell you to build and the old tell you to 
destroy, listen to the latter; for the building of youth 
is destruction and the destruction of the old is 
building." Tal. 

That is the young build in order to destroy, and 
the old destroy in order to build. 

"Rashness, beyond a doubt, belongs to life when 
in its bloom, wisdom to it in old age." Cicero. 

yopn $>Ni D'jp yp lino D'3pn run DH^ if? nDx* 1 ex 

CD D'VU) DH^ 

"Temeritas est videlicet ftorentis aetatis, prudentia 
senescentis." De Sen. 5. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 79 

xc. 

"If them hast the means, enjoy thyself, for there is no 
pleasure in the grave, and no postponement of death 
. . . Human beings are like the gras-s of the field, 
while some flourish, others wither." Tal. 

The enjoyment 'alluded to is that kind which the 
noble consciousness of an upright and good life 
affords. 

Seneca has a similar thought: "Few have the 
pleasures of safe repose who bear in mind how swiftly 
never returning time passes. While the fates allow, 
enjoy yourselves and be merry." 

(Y'j pniTy) '21 1^ ntrn -j$> v DN 

"N'ovh paucos secura quies . . . Dum fata sinunt vivite 
laeti." Her. Fur. 



XCI. 

"If you will work for the earth like a slave you will have 
plenty, ignore her claim, and you will not have 
enough bread." Tal. 

So Seneca: "If you live according to nature you 
will never be poor, if according to the opinion of 
others, you will never be rich." 



8o ECHOES OF WISDOM 

(n"j piroD) nr6 JOB* rmnvb naya ivy DIK neny DK 

"Si ad naturam vivas, nunquam eris pauper, si ad 
opinionem, nunquam eris dives." Ep. 16. 



XCII. 

"If an ignorant person is extremely pious, do not live 
in his neighborhood." Tal. 

The ignorant person (am aretz), referred to in the 
Talmud, scorned knowledge and despised authority. 
He was more embittered against the Jewish scholar 
than was the heathen against the Jew. Rabbi Akiba, 
who began to study at an advanced age frankly admits 
that at the time he was ignorant (am aretz) he had 
such an animosity against the learned classes that 
many a time he wished he could get hold of a scholar 
and break his bones. The more airs of piety those 
lovers of ignorance put on the more intolerable they 
were. 

"Nothing is more disagreeable than a man 
of mean origin raised into power." Clodian. 
(B"D D'riD2) inflate inn ^K Ton Kin psn ay DN 

"Asperius nihil est humili, cum surgit in ahum." In 
Eutrop. I. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 81 

XCIII. 

"If our ancestors were like angels, we are only like 
human beings; if our ancestors were like human 
beings, we are like donkies." Tal. 

Diction is one thing and thought another. The 
idea may be transcendent, and the expression com- 
monplace. The word may be high sounding, and the 
thought objectionable. It does not follow that, 
because tfie cup is golden, the liquid therein is 
acceptable, nor is the refreshing drink less so, because 
the pitcher is not of exquisite make. 

The wording of the above apophthegm is not 
free from extravagence but the idea it expresses, 
which is, that we are greatly inferior to our ancestors, 
commands respect. 

Israel always believed that in the past was the 
refulgent east and window of divine revelation, and 
glorified the lives of his ancestors as patterns and 
their words as oracles. If King Solomon exhorts us 
not to say that the former ages were better, he does 
not mean to weaken and abrogate the authority of 
the inspired teachers of ages gone by. It was tradi- 
tion that lent force to his sceptre. King Solomon 
contends against palliating religious relaxation by the 
groundless assertion that in former times circum- 
stances were more favorable to high religious 
pursuits. 

Many of us to-day are wont to look back to 



82 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

antiquity with the smile and exaltation of a pros- 
perous man looking back to the child that he once 
was. Is it really so sure a thing that knowledge 
increases and the human mind becomes stronger in 
proportion to the succession of generations? History 
does not show it- It does not exemplify such a 
constant process of higher development of the 
intellect; such a continuous improvement and perfect- 
ing of man. 

There is no such a period as the childhood of the 
human race in history. It begins with existing 
organizations, with the admirable work of men of 
amazing mental power. History is biography 
fragmentary biography. The history of a nation is 
the narrative of the signal virtues and vices, victories 
and defeats of its rulers and leaders. The history of 
the human race is the record of the struggles and 
creations of comparatively few men who instructed 
and awakened the masses and impressed their own 
image upon them. A comparison between the mind 
of to-day and that of ages gone by, does not justify 
that pride and self-aggrandizement of which we have 
an abundant supply. We are still under the sway and 
influence of antiquity. 

Religion is an old institution. Our ethics are the 
amaranths of antiquity. Our governments, the best 
and noblest, are either continuations or reproductions 
of old principles. The poetry of to-day is imitation, 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 83 

the philosophy repetition, the theatres and museums 
are copies. 

Our whole civilization must be attributed to the 
genius of two peoples, the old Jews and the Greeks. 
Other nations of antiquity have contributed their 
share, but those two peoples have bequeathed the 
most wonderful legacies. 

There is a difference in the kind of work they 
have done and in the ideas which led them to it. The 
Jews had a firm religious conviction, the Greeks 
lacked a criterion- The Jews had the rule of life, the 
Greeks were in search of such a rule. The Jews spirit- 
ualized the material; the Greeks materialized the 
spiritual. The aim of the Jew was holiness, the aim 
of the Greek was the beautiful. Hence, the one 
raised a saintly life above all attainments, while the 
other ran into extasy over a pleasing poem, a sharp 
syllogism, a beautiful statue and an heroic perform- 
ance in the battlefield. Heine contrasts the two 
peoples with prophectic force when he says: "I see 
now, that the Greeks were beautiful youths, while the 
Jews impress me as "having been men mature and 
strong, fearless and invincible." 

Yet it is very difficult to duly estimate the influ- 
ence of the Greeks and to tell exactly where it ceases. 
A man of no less acumen than Schlegel deemed it 
proper to say: "The Greeks are the second chosen 
people of God." 

But can we think of Jews and Greeks without 



84 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

thinking of Moses and Homer? Moses is not only 
the proem, the incipiency of the brilliant career of his 
people, but the holy ark which moves with them, 
giving them direction and inspiration. His spirit 
breathes in our immortal prophecies, those fearless 
admonitions, stirring exhortations, piercing com- 
plaints, soothing consolatories, and fiery religions 
discourses Which are the majestic utterances of the 
divine in man. His wisdom enables the Talmudic 
sages to open a realm where the sky is radiant with 
certainty, the air balmy with faith and the soil blos- 
soming with hope. His genius endows Israel with 
that valor of endurance which has rendered our 
history unique and unparalleled. 

The words in the Bible : "And no man knows his 
(Moses) grave" has a deeper meaning than the letter 
conveys. Who can imagine that mysterious person- 
age dead and buried? His institutions are sacred. 
His writings are written miracles, to be instructed in 
them is a religious duty, to interpret them a privilege, 
to live in them a blessing, and to die for them an 
honor. The history of Israel is the history of the 
exegesis and embodiment of Mosaism, the paragon 
of intellectual achievement, the panacea of the world- 

What Moses is in Israel, Homer was in Greece, 
the law-giver, the scientist, the artist. He is not the 
dawn, but the constant co-worker of a great history. 
Under the influence of his genius, a band of poets 
flourish whose words are sweet music, giving wings 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 85 

to imagination and delight to the ear. Philosophers 
build a labyrinth of thought so tempting, that 
to be lost in it seems a pleasure. Sculptors chisel 
the cold marbel into forms that seem to breath. 
Historians describe the past with a magic skill as 
to make it a part of our own experience. Heroes 
rise who attain distinction for superiority of senti- 
ment no less than that of strategy and courage. 
Homer is the sweet dream of the Greeks, or rather as 
Hegel puts it: "The element in which the Greek world 
lives as man lives in the air." 

"Those who have lived before us have done 
much, but have not finished the work, yet they are 
to be esteemed and reverenced like gods. Seneca. 

(3"p ri3K>) 'S\ D'BOK M2 UK D^K^D U3 D'JIBtO DK 
Multum egerunt qui ante nos fuerunt, sed non perege- 
runt; sus pic iendi tamen sunt et ritudeorme colendi. Ep. 64. 



XCIV. 

"If thou art free from slanderous utterances thou shalt 
live in peace." Tal. 

''' 'Tis slander; 

Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue 
Outvenoms all the worms of the Nile; whose breath 
Rides on posting winds, and does belie 
All corners of the world; kings, queens and states, 
Maids, matrons, nay the secrets of the grave 
This viperous slander enters." Shakespeare. 



86 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

"Why do you wound," the serpent is asked, 
"without any benefit?" "Go to man," the serpent 
replies, "and ask him what benefit he derives from 
slander." Midrash. 

"Nothing is so swift as evil speech." Cicero. 
(B"S KBIT K"l) D1^ TD ^3 Kiin Y'r6 -pB mot? DK 



"Nihil est auten tarn volucre quam maledictum." 

Cn. Plane. 



XCV. 

"Sighing impairs health." Tal. 

"Care to our coffin adds nail." Walcott. 
"Care is at times beyond the reach of art." 
Ovid. 



"Cura quoque interdum nulla medicabilis arte." Ep. ex 
Pont, i, 3. 



XCVI. 

"I speak to you common sense," and you say: "Heaven 
will have mercy!" Tal. 

So Rabbi Jose observed. He saw that Rabbi 
Chananyah continued to teach in spite of the prohibi- 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 87 

tory ordinance of the Romans and anxious to save 
him from the impending- punishment, said to him: 
"Brother! do you not see what a mighty power the 
Romans are? They destroyed the city of God, burnt 
his temple and slew so many of his servants, yet they 
rule and succeed, and you dare to oppose and defy 
them?" To this Rabbi Chananyah replied: "Heaven 
will have mercy." 

It reminds of Cicero : "You oppose me . . . with 
stories, but I demand reasons of you." 



"Rumoribus mecum pugnas, ego autem a te rationes 
require." D. N. D. iii, 5. 



XCVII. 

"The myrtle though standing among thorns is neverthe- 
less a myrtle." Tal. 

It is not safe to judge always a man's character 
by those with whom he associates. Antisthenes was 
once approached for being intimate with wicked 
people and said: "Physicians also live with those who 
are sick and yet they do not catch fevers." Dioe- 
Leart. 

"The rose is often found to be near the nettle " 
Ovid. 



(Y'D 

"Urticae proxima saepe rosa est." Remed. Am. 45. 



88 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

XCVIII. 

"It is forbidden to steal the good will even of a heathen." 

Tal 

"Steal" is a strong word. Our sages put him 
down as a thief, who obtains the good wishes of any- 
body on a false pretence. 

That they have given the same consideration to 
the heathen would itself prove that they did not 
nourish that apathy against him which is maliciously 
attributed to them- But there are numerous passages 
in the Talmud which indicate that our sages stood 
upon the platform of universal love. For instance: 
"The heathen who is engaged in the study of 
the Law is like a high priest." "Also the pious of the 
heathens has a portion in the world to come." "Who 
steals of a heathen will also steal of an Israelite, and 
who commits perjury against a heathen will be 
guilty of the same sin against a Jew." "We should 
feed the poor of the heathens, attend to their sick, 
bury their dead and save their property for the sake 
of peace." 

Our saying is the most forcible expression of the 
duty of fair dealing with all men compared with which 
Cicero: "No one should take advantage of the ignor- 
ance of others," is weak. 

(Y'J p^ n ) '31 ninan njn 21:1:6 IIDN 

"Neminem ita agere ut ex ulterius praedetur inscientia." 
Cicero. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 89 

XCIX. 
"A physician for nothing is worth nothing." Tal. 

He may not take enough interest in the patient 
if his services are not remunerated. In the Talmud, 
the physician is spoken of as a material necessity. 
Although the Talmud is not in favor of giving over 
to him the leadership of a city, it cautions against 
living in a city which has no physician. If it says: 
"The best of physicians is doomed to h 1," we are 
to take it as a stricture upon the conceited physician, 
who thinks himself the best of his profession, and 
refuses to consult a colleague though seeing that his 
patient sinks under his treatment. 

Yet at first sight, the saying which heads this 
chapter, seems to convey the idea which Arbiter 
expressed when he said: "The physician is nothing 
else but a consolation of the mind." 

(T'B p"2) N'1K> po p3 pDT JODK 
"Medicus nihil aliud est quam animi consolatio." Sat. 



c. 

"The physician who comes from a distance makes blind." 

Tal. 

Having his practice and reputation elsewhere, he 
may treat the patient as an object of experiment with 



90 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

serious results. Other commentators take the say- 
ing in the sense that his skill is greatly over-rated. 
"Distance lends enchantment." The stars would, 
perhaps, not be half so glorified were they nearer our 
globe. "The prophet has greater fascination abroad 
than at home." 

"Everything unknown is taken for magnificent." 
Tacit. 



"Omne ignotum pro magnified." Agr. 30. 



CI. 

"Though he sinned, he is still an Israelite." Tal. 

"A man's a man for a' that. Burns. 
"I am human, consequently, nothing human is a 
stranger to me." Terence. 



"Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienuni puto." 

Heaut, i. 



cii: 

"Even father and son, teacher and pupil studying in the 
same place will disagree." Tal. 

"As many persons there are so many opinions." 
Cicero. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 91 



I rrrra ppow ... 

"Tot homines tot sententiae." 



cm. 

"Even in peril a man should assert his dignity." 

.;*:- .-, 

"If a man must fall, let him meet the danger 
courageously. Tacitus. 
U"5f 'nnjo) 'DI levy nx DIN njtr 1 *6 runon nyea I^SN 

"Si cadere necesse est occurrendum discrimine." 

Hist, i, 33. 



CIV. 

"Even if the sword is on his neck he should pray." Tal. 

''The sick should hope as long as there is life." 
Cicero. 

('" rvana) D*mn jo yw ^>N nwix ^y nmiD mn mn 

"Aegroto, dum anima, spes est." Ep. ad At. ix, 10. 



cv. 

"Even among the rabble there are men who are as 
imbued with virtues as is the pomegranate full of 
seeds." Tal. 



92 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

This fruit has no very inviting exterior, but its 
inside testifies to the bounty, beauty and harmony of 
nature. Thus, there are people who carry within 
wealth of noble feeling. 

How much more encouraging this sentiment is 
than that of the pessimists who claim there is no 
virtue ! 

> No virtue? The desire to be better is universal, 
so is the admiration for virtue. Is not that admir- 
ation a virtue in itself? Has it a motive? It comes 
we do not know how, and brings reproach with it that 
we are not on a higher level. Moreover, we could 
not admire good traits in character if we were utterly 
void of them. To appreciate a good poem, one must 
have i some poetry in him. To find pleasure in a 
philosophical treatise, one must be a philosopher to 
some extent. Does not this hold good of religion 
and morality? 

It is not far fetched to say that virtue as a mere 
fancy could not have asserted itself. The most of 
our ideas are transcripts of what is, the impressions of 
things real. No science has ever preceeded exper- 
ience ; no history the men and events it describes. It 
may be asserted with impunity, that the first virtuous 
man was not one who sighed for virtue, but practiced 
it. 

There is a difference in the degree and practice 
of virtue as there is a difference in the quality of the 
work men do, but there are people of integrity and 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 93 

higher cravings among all classes, even the humblest. 
"Virtue is withheld from no one. She can be 
reached by all, accepts all, invites all, gentlemen, freed 
men, slaves, kings and exiles; she selects neither 
house nor fortune, she is satisfied with human beings, 
with man as man." Seneca. 

(r"i "iruo) PDID rwto 

"Nulli preaolusa virtus est, omnibus patet, omires 
admitted omnes invitat, etc." De Belief, iii, 18. 



CVI. 

"Four kinds of people are disgusting: a poor man who 
is proud; a rich man who pleads poverty; an old 
man who is licentious; a leader who is insolent." 

It reminds of Cicero: "Who does not hate the 
mean, the vain, the fickle and trifling?" 

ipn BTDO nnpjn nsa h p bx jrtaio njnn 
(r'-'p "TIDE) nwnon 

"Quis non odit sordidos, vanos, leves, futiles." 

Fin. iii, 2. 



CVII. 

"Her womanhood is her protection." Tal. 

"There is no memorable name in female punish- 
ment, nor has that victory any glory." Vir. 



94 ECHOES OF WISDOM 



(n"3 t"y) rr>y ruT 

"Nullum memorabile nomen in foemi-nea poena nee ita 
victoria habet laudem." Aen. ii. 



CVIII. 

"A woman reads the people coming to her house better 
than man." 

Had Buckle been familiar with this apophthegm 
he might have quoted it with some show of Talmudic 
knowledge in his lecture on "Woman's influence on 
the progress of knowledge." 

"Another circumstance," says Buckle, "which 
makes women more deductive,is that they possess 
more of what is called intuition. They cannot see as 
far as man can, but what they do see they see quicker. 
Hence, they are constantly tempted to grasp at once 
at an idea, and seek to solve a problem suddenly in 
contradistinction to the slower and more laborious 
ascent of the inductive investigator. That women 
are more deductive than men, because they think 
quicker is a. proposition which some persons will not 
relish, and yet it may be proved in a variety of ways." 

"To this, I may add another observation which 
many travellers have made, and which anyone can 
testify; namely, "that when you are in a foreign 
country and speaking a foreign language, women will 
understand you quicker thsn men will." 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 95 



('j "TIDQ) c"KD nnv D'rnisa mao 

"Parvis mobilis rebus animus muliebris." Levy vi, 34. 



CIX. 

"The man is well off who does not go to theatres." Tal. 

That is the man upon whom time does not hang 
heavily and who finds amusement and diversion in 
pursuits the legitimacy of which can not be ques- 
tioned. And our sages are not without support in 
this respect. 

Boswell has the following item about Samuel 
Johnson: "He for a considerable time used to fre- 
quent the green-room, and seemed to take delight in 
dissipating his gloom by mixing in the sprightly chit- 
chat of the motley circle then to be found there. Mr. 
David Hume related to me from Garrick that John- 
son at last denied himself that amusement from a 
consideration of rigid virtue, saying: "I come no 
more behind the green scenes, David; for the silk 
stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite 
my amorous propensities." Little's Hist- Lights. 

"Ovid employs two hundred lines in the research 
of places the most favorable to love. Above all, he 
considers the theatres as the best adapted to collect 
the beauties of Rome and to melt them with tender- 
ness and sensuality." Ibid. 

Solon, the lawgiver of Athens, "forbade Thespis 



96 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

to perform and represent his tragedies, on the ground 
of falsehood being unprofitable ; and when Pisistratos 
wounded 'himself, he said it all came of Thespis 
tragedies." Yonge's Diog. Leart. 

Seneca advises his young friend to stay away 
from public shows, saying: "Nothing is so hurtful to 
good morals as to while away the time at some public 
show." 

(n /M T"y) nvtnm - 



"Nihil vero tarn damnosum bonis moribus, quam in 
aliquo spectaculo desidere." Ep. vii. 



ex. 

"The generation is to be congratulated which has Rabbi 
Elazar, son of Azariah." Tal. 

When the position of Nassi was made vacant by 
the abdication of Rabbi Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar was 
declared the best equipped man for the office. He 
was learned, influential and of a family which traced 
its genealogy to Ezrah. His wife, 'however, did not 
care for the promotion, and said to him: "They will 
depose you as they did Rabbi Gamliel." "This," he 
said, "does not trouble me." "We use costly glass- 
ware knowing that it may break." She then referred 
to his extremely useful appearance. He was then 
only eighteen years old. 

At any rate, he was elected, and having been in 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 97 

the exalted office a short time, a reconciliation was 
effected between Rabbi Gamliel and his opponents, 
whose rehabilitation was desired- Cheerfully and 
readily Rabbi Elazar resigned, and headed a party 
to congratulate the reinstated Nassi. 

"There are Clodii at all times, but the Catos are 
rare." Seneca. 

('a nyjn) tti vn TIP y nx 'nt? inn new 

"Omne tempes Clodii, non omne Catones feret." Ep. 97 



CXI. 

"Happy are the martyrs." Tal. 

Rabbi Joseph recovered from his sickness, and 
his father, Rabbi Joshua, asked him, what vision he 
had when he was in a state of apparent unconscious- 
ness. Rabbi Joseph answered: "I have seen a world 
with a reversed order of things. The high-stationed 
were down and the lowly were up." And the father 
said: "Thou hast seen a well ordered world. But 
what hast them seen of us scholars?" And he 
answered: "As we are here, so we are there. And I 
'heard say: "Happy who comes here with learning in 
his hand, (that is, Whose learning caused good 
action). And I also heard say: "Happy are the 
martyrs." Commenting on this last utterance the 
Talmud says: "It does not refer to Rabbi Akiba and 



9 8 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

his associates who had other great merits, but to the 
martyrs in Lydda. It happened that a king's daugh- 
ter was murdered, and, as the murderer was not found, 
the whole Jewish colony was charged with the crime. 
But in order to remove all suspicion from, and thus 
save their brethren, two brave young men sacrificed 
themselves. They gave themselves up to the thought- 
less government as the assassins of the king's 
daughter, and were innocently put to death. 

"It is sweet and glorious to die for the father* 
land-" Hor. 

CJ DTIDS) niata 'Jinn nt?K 

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Od. Hi, 2. 



exit 

"Happy the man who repents while he is yet a man." 

Tal. 

That is when one's better nature has still that 
warmth and impressionability to become victor of 
the base passions. 

It reminds of Juvenal: "When armed and 
helmeted it is too late to repent of the fight." 



"Galeatum sero duelli poenitet." Sat. I. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 99 

CXIII. 

"Thou art hailed, O Rabbi Akiba! that thy soul has 
departed while "echod" was on thy lips." Tal. 

Rabbi Akiba is the most amazing personality in 
the Talmud. Of obscure descent and beginning to 
study at an advanced age, he acquired phenomenal 
sway over the leading men in Israel as a scholarly 
genius and religious hero. He may be said to 'have 
been both, the Jewish Aristotle and Epaminondas of 
that period. He had the intellectual brilliancy of the 
former and the devotion and self-abnegation of the 
latter. 

About his death, the Talmud gives the following 
information: "Disregarding the Roman edict to quit 
all Jewish study and instruction, he continued to lec- 
ture to large gatherings. Warned by Pappus, he told 
him that fishes once chided a fox who invited them to 
follow him on land, because they were in danger in 
the river." They said: "Thou, o'h fox, art sly, but 
nevertheless a fool- If we are not safe in the water, we 
are less so on land." About the study of the law 
it is written: "For it is thy life and the length of thy 
days," and if we are not safe in it, it is useless to 
look for safety elsewhere." 

In a few days, however, Rabbi Akiba was seized 
and tortured to death,but,to the very last, he asserted 
his spiritual independence and invincibility. While 
his skin was being torn from him with a curry-comb, 



too ECHOES OF WISDOM 

he recited passages from the Scriptures. His 
disciples, seeing that the executioner was determined 
to break the constancy of his victim, and therefore pro- 
longed his agonies, cried out: "Master, it is enough." 
But the mutilated master calmed them, saying: "It is 
written: "And thou shalt love the Eternal, thy God, 
with all thy soul." It means even at the cost of thy 
life- Many a time I wondered whether I will have an 
opportunity to manifest such a love for my God. And 
now that I have it shall I not use it? Again he said: 
"Hear, O Israel, the Eternal is our God, the Eternal 
is One," and kept up the sound of the last word "One" 
until his body sank, and the glory that tenanted it 
rose heavenward." A voice from above (Bath Kol) 
exclaimed "Happy art thou, Rabbi Akiba, that thy 
soul departed with "echod" on thy lips." 

"Who falls for the love of God shall rise a star." 

Ben Jonson. 

;(N"D main) nnxn "jnotw nnvn? y"n 



CXIV. 

"It is written: Thou shalt fear the Eternal thy God," 
this teaches at the same time that the sages must be 
respected.' " Tal. 

Our wise men revered the Bible as an emanation 
of divine Intelligence in which the solution of life's 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 101 

problem could be found, if properly studied. There 
was no superfluity and no platitude in it. Every 
sentence was a constellation, every word a glittering 
star. 

The word "eth" stood for more than a gram- 
matical form, namely, for an intimation that an addi- 
tional lesson was intended which, though not 
expressed, could be guessed by the student. And we 
are told that a sage by the name of Simon, satis- 
factorily explained the special meaning of that word 
in all its relations except in that to fear of God. 
He was afraid to say that this denoted a plus. Whom 
is man to fear besides God? What other fear then 
could that include? His disciples said to him: 
"Master, thy disinclination to elucidate the word here, 
will weaken all your efforts in that direction. For if 
it is here only a grammatical form, why should it not 
be taken as such in all its connections?" The master 
replied: "As I hope to 'be rewarded for explanation 
elsewhere, so I hope to be rewarded for my departure 
in this case." Rabbi Akiba, however, said: "The 
word 'eth' has even in this connection a special sug- 
gestion, namely, that next to God we owe reverence 
to the sage who benefits us by his inspiring word and 
glorious example." 

"I say great men are still admirable, I say there 
is, at bottom, nothing else admirable! No nobler 
feeling than this of admiration for one higher than 
himself dwells in the breast of man. It is to this hour, 



102 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

and at all hours, the vivifying influence in man's life. 
Religion I find stand upon it." Carlyle. 

"Next and immediately after the gods men are 

most useful to men It is by the wisdom and 

virtues of excellent men that we are urged and excited 
to study and improve our conditions." Cicero. 
d"3 TIDB) n"n nn~6 NTD 'K 'n nx 

"Proxime autem et secundum deos homines... Hominum 
studia virorum praestantium sapientia excitantur." De Off. 
, 3, 5- 



cxv. 

"The donkey came and kicked the candelabrum." Tal. 

There was a philosopher who used to brag of 
his deep sense of justice and utter abhorrence for 
bribery, but whom Rabbi Gamliel and his sister knew 
to lead a double life. In order to expose him, they 
pretended to have a disagreement about their father's 
estate, and appointed him judge in the -matter. Both 
bribed him, she with a golden candelabrum, and Rabbi 
Gamliel with an imported donkey. During the trial 
she said to the judge: "May thy judgment be as 
bright as the candelabrum," and Rabbi Gamliel, in 
order to remind him of his gift said: "The donkey 
came and kicked the candelabrum." 

Whether Rabbi Gamliel and his sister actually 
played such unbecoming parts may reasonably be 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 103 

questioned. It is more likely that some disappointed 
scholar gave 'birth to the above saying, and means 
that nonsense is often more appreciated by the people 
than substantial thought 

It reminds of the story of the shadow of an ass. 
Demosthenes pleaded a very important case, and 
observing that the judges paid him no attention, told 
them that once a man hired a donkey to ride on its 
back to some city. On the road the man sat down 
under the donkey to rest. The owner of the same 
then demanded extra pay for the use of the shadow 
of his animal, which the other party refused. They 
went to court. At this point of the story the famous 
orator turned to leave the room, but the judges 
anxious to hear how the court disposed of the shadow 
of the ass bade him stay and continue. 

"Comedy carries the day." 

(VBp rot?) Nn&6 K>B:II anon 

"Vocem comoedia tollit." L. Prov. 



CXVI. 
"You have, I have not said it." Tal. 

Bar Kappara was sent by the Rabbies to inquire 
about Rabbi Jehudah Hanassi, whose sickness had 
taken an alarming turn and for whose recovery a 
fast was ordained and prayers were said. Coming 



104 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

back to the Rabbies he said "Angels and righteous 
men combatted about the possession of the holy 
ark and the angels succeeded to carry it off." "Is 
he dead?" the Rabbies asked, and he replied: "You 
have, I have not said it." 

The same is related about Rabbi Joshua. He 
was requested by the Rabbies to go and see how 
Rabbi Kahanah was, and finding him dead, he tore 
his garment and wept. When he returned, the 
Rabbies asked: "Is he dead?" And he answered: 
"You have, I have not said it. He who utters 
offensive speech is a fool." 

There was a feeling that the expression: "He 
died" or "He is dead" could not well be applied to 
a man so honored and cherished. Death and immor- 
tality, what a contradiction! Can we consistently 
speak of the death of anyone whom we believe 
immortal? What those sages meant by saying: "You 
have, I have not said it," is, to use a Ciceronian 
expression: "1 am not so absurd as to say that." 



"Non sum ita hebes, ut istud dicam." Tuscul. i, 6. 



CXVII. 

'You have come to see one who cannot see, may it be 
your prerogative to see Him who sees, but is not 
seen." Tal. 



ECHOES OF WISDOM 105 

Rabbi Jehudah and Rabbi Chiya came into a city 
and inquired whether a learned man dwelled there. 
They were informed that a learned man lived there, 
but he was blind. They paid him a visit. What the 
conversation of these scholars was is not repeated. 
But when the distinguished visitors were about to 
leave him he blessed them in the above words. 

There is a passage in Cicero which deserves to 
be cited in this connection. It is this: "Pompejus 
used to relate that when he came to Rhodus, he had a 
great desire to hear Posidonius lecture. But he was 
informed that the philosopher was a great sufferer, 
and though he gave up all hope of hearing him, he 
paid him a visit. Pompeius after greeting the phil- 
osopher expressed his regrets that he could not hear 
him lecture. But Posidonius said: "I shall not per- 
mit any illness to cause such a distinguished visitor 
to leave me without hearing me." And he discussed 
earnestly and fluently the proposition : "Nothing was 
good but what was honest." But as often as his 
malady gave him severe pain so that he had to 
interrupt himself, he said: "Pain, thou accomplishest 
nothing. Thou art annoying, but I will never admit 
that thou art an evil." 

Cn nrjn) 's\ ism pvi jr&n DKijn DMQ nrtapn ant* 

"Nihil agis dolor: quamvis sis molestus, nunquam te 
esse confitebor malum." Tuscul. ii, 25. 



io6 ECHOES OF WISDOM 

CXVIII. 

"The thief may escape two or three times, but will pay 
the penalty in the end." Tal. 

Punishment though late comes on with silent 
step. Tibullus. 

("i 'nruD) tep'D N^> >aj: r6ni wins 

"Sera tamen tacitis poena venit pedibus." 



Typographical errors corrected. 



HEBREW 
Page 1, line 2, 
" 18, " 16, 

"36, " 14, 



LATIN 

Page 61, line 13, mulieribus 
" 63, " 10, earn 
" 85, " 16, suspiciendi 
" " " " ritu deorum 



ENGLISH 



Page 23, line 1, Pumbaditha | Page 64, line 6, Buckle 
" 50, " 20, omit "to" " 73, " 13, prosper 

" 51, " 8, become " 76, " 20, lose, 

Page 77, line 13, Phreantles. 

Page 5. line 0, properc Page 65, line 17, mastodon 
Page 70, line 4 Quod 
" 96, " 23, youthful 



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