Words of Wisdom

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

In the spirit of Kohelet, which is a feature of Sukkot, I share with you some of my favorite words of Halachic and Talmudic wisdom. For a daily dose of Torah wisdom be sure to check out (and ‘Like’!) the “Torah Wisdom” page on Facebook. Next post: Tuesday October 25th. Chag Same’ach!


The walls have ears.[1]

Seeing is believing.[2]

No one has a pain-free life.[3]

One who has only a single shirt is not living properly.[4]

A person cannot evade his debts indefinitely.[5]

A person only dies from boredom.[6]

Every day there is an innovation in halacha in the heavenly court.[7]

Do not innovate stringencies in halacha.[8]

Either friendship or death.[9]

One cannot be more righteous than God.[10]

A person is not permitted to do something that would injure himself.[11]

Don’t drink from a cup without first inspecting it.[12]

There is no profession that doesn’t include those who are rich and those who are poor.[13]

The worst offense is lying.[14]

Don’t charge for giving advice.[15]

A conceited person is a blemished person.[16]

The worst sin is to violate the trust of a friend.[17]

There is no academy that does not produce new insights.[18]

Poverty is the worst form of suffering.[19]

A person should be more careful not to harm others than not to be harmed by others.[20]

People don’t even realize the miracles that are performed for them.[21]

The honor of a person can be ascertained by his clothes.[22]

If you want to know what is on a person’s mind, take a look at what he reads.[23]

There is always room for dessert.[24]

There is no book that does not contain some mistakes.[25]

The one who completes the mitzva gets the credit for it.[26]

The reward for performing mitzvot is incomprehensible.[27]

Don’t forbid for others that which you permit for yourself.[28]

The wise man said: if you want your friend to hate you – be sure to visit him often.[29]

[1] Vayikra Rabba 32:2.

[2] Mechilta, Shemot 19:9.

[3] Yalkut, Ekev.

[4] Sefer Chassidim 171.

[5] Yerushalmi Gittin 5:4.

[6] Avot D’Rabbi Natan 11:1.

[7] Bereishit Rabba 49:2

[8] Radbaz 163.

[9] Ta’anit 23a.

[10] Bamidbar Rabba 12:2.

[11] Bava Kama 91b.

[12] Ketubot 75b.

[13] Kiddushin 82a.

[14] Mechilta, Mishpatim 21:8.

[15] Sefer Chassidim 295.

[16] Megilla 29a.

[17] Yerushalmi Sota 9:1.

[18] Chagiga 3a.

[19] Shemot Rabba 31:11.

[20] Tosafot, Bava Kama 23a.

[21] Nidda 31a.

[22] Derech Eretz Zuta 10.

[23] Sefer Chassidim 291.

[24] Megilla 7b.

[25] Bechinat Hakabbala 269.

[26] Sota 13b.

[27] Midrash Tanchuma, Tavo 3.

[28] Hapitgam Hashinon, p. 14.

[29] Orchot Tzaddikim, Sinah.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com


  1. I think the breslav sefer hamidos is good for this kind of thing.

  2. coincidence that this post appears the day after sir paul marries ?


  3. Joel-

    I dont get it.

    Ari Enkin

  4. Ye’yasher kochakha, R. Enkin.
    Regarding proverb no. 8, with your kind permission I would like to elaborate on the context. What Radbaz writes is that – after concluding that regarding a particular question of a possible rabbinic prohibition that most poskim are lenient – “therefore I do not see [i.e. I do not wish] to innovate stringencies upon Israel regarding that which the Rishonim were not stringent, and if only they would observe what that which is incumbent upon them, because if you grasp for too much you do not grasp, and neither this nor that will remain in their hands.”

  5. Parenthetically, I surmise R’ Joel Rich was commenting on the same proverb as myself. Radbaz’ point appears analogous to Hillel’s remark “hanach lahen le’Yisrael – im ein nevi’im hen, bnei nevi’im hen” (Pesachim 66a), or just “let it be”.

  6. Let it be – written bt Lennon/Mcartney(alias Sir Paul):
    When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
    speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
    And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
    speaking words of wisdom, let it be.


  7. it doesn’t say friendship or death, it says study partner or death

  8. sb,
    Really? How do you say friendship in Babylonian Aramaic? And where else do we see reference to “study partners” in the Bavli?

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