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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 2

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 2

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 2

1. I said to myself, "Come now, I will mix [wine] with joy and experience pleasure"; and behold, this too was vanity.   א. אָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי לְכָה נָּא אֲנַסְּכָה בְשִׂמְחָה וּרְאֵה בְטוֹב וְהִנֵּה גַם הוּא הָבֶל:
I said to myself: since that is so, I will refrain from wisdom, and I will constantly engage in drinking.  
I will mix: Heb. אֲנַסְכָה, an expression of mixing wine to drink, like (Prov. 9:2): “she has mingled (מָסְכָה) her wine,” the mingling of wine with water to improve it or the mingling of spices with wine for conditum (spiced wine).  
and experience pleasure: Heb. וּרְאֵה, like בְּטוֹב וּרְאוֹת.  
and behold, this too was vanity: For I saw through prophecy that many misfortunes come about through laughter. Belshazzar died through a banquet, and the people of the Generation of the Flood were inundated because of the abundant goodness that You lavished upon them.  
2. Of laughter, I said, "[It is] mingled"; and concerning joy, "What does this accomplish?"   ב. לִשְׂחוֹק אָמַרְתִּי מְהוֹלָל וּלְשִׂמְחָה מַה זֹּה עֹשָׂה:
Of laughter, I said, “[It is] mingled”: mixed with weeping and sighs.  
and concerning joy, what: good does it accomplish? Behold, its end is grief.  
3. I searched in my heart to indulge my body with wine, and my heart conducting itself with wisdom and holding onto folly, until I would see which is better for the children of men that they should do under the heavens, the number of the days of their lives.   ג. תַּרְתִּי בְלִבִּי לִמְשׁוֹךְ בַּיַּיִן אֶת בְּשָׂרִי וְלִבִּי נֹהֵג בַּחָכְמָה וְלֶאֱחֹז בְּסִכְלוּת עַד אֲשֶׁר אֶרְאֶה אֵי זֶה טוֹב לִבְנֵי הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשׂוּ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמַיִם מִסְפַּר יְמֵי חַיֵּיהֶם:
I searched in my heart: I returned to search in my heart to maintain all of them: feasting, wisdom, and folly, and to indulge and to pamper my body with wine feasting. Every feast of enjoyment is called מִשְּׁתֶּה because of the wine.  
conducting itself with wisdom: Even if my body is being indulged with wine, my heart is being conducted with wisdom, to hold onto the Torah.  
and holding onto folly: to things that appear to me as folly, concerning which I said, (Prov. 30:1): “God is with me; yea, God is with me, and I will be able,” for example, the wearing of shaatnez and mingled species in a vineyard, which Satan and the nations of the world dispute, and so he says (below 7: 18): “It is good that you should take hold of this,” and also, concerning Saul, to whom it appeared folly to slay both man and woman, both infant and suckling, but it was the commandment of the Omnipresent, and he called it folly.  
4. I made myself great works; I built myself houses, and I planted myself vineyards.   ד. הִגְדַּלְתִּי מַעֲשָׂי בָּנִיתִי לִי בָּתִּים נָטַעְתִּי לִי כְּרָמִים:
I made myself great works: in the days of my greatness.  
5. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted in them all sorts of fruit trees.   ה. עָשִׂיתִי לִי גַּנּוֹת וּפַרְדֵּסִים וְנָטַעְתִּי בָהֶם עֵץ כָּל פֶּרִי:
all sorts of fruit trees: for Solomon recognized with his wisdom the veins of the earth: which vein leads to Cush, and there he planted peppers; which one goes to a land of carob fruits, and there he planted carob trees. For all the veins of the lands come to Zion, from where the world was founded, as it is said (Ps. 50:2): “From Zion, the all-inclusive beauty.” Therefore, it is said: “all sorts of fruit trees.” Midrash Tanhuma (Kedoshim 10).  
6. I made myself pools of water, to water from them a forest sprouting with trees.   ו. עָשִׂיתִי לִי בְּרֵכוֹת מָיִם לְהַשְׁקוֹת מֵהֶם יַעַר צוֹמֵחַ עֵצִים:
pools of water: Like a sort of vivaria for fish, which they dig in the ground.  
7. I acquired male and female slaves, and I had household members; also I had possession of cattle and flocks, more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.   ז. קָנִיתִי עֲבָדִים וּשְׁפָחוֹת וּבְנֵי בַיִת הָיָה לִי גַּם מִקְנֶה בָקָר וָצֹאן הַרְבֵּה הָיָה לִי מִכֹּל שֶׁהָיוּ לְפָנַי בִּירוּשָׁלָ ִם:
8. I accumulated for myself also silver and gold, and the treasures of the kings and the provinces; I acquired for myself various types of musical instruments, the delight of the sons of men, wagons and coaches.   ח. כָּנַסְתִּי לִי גַּם כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב וּסְגֻלַּת מְלָכִים וְהַמְּדִינוֹת עָשִׂיתִי לִי שָׁרִים וְשָׁרוֹת וְתַעֲנֻגוֹת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם שִׁדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת:
and the treasures of the kings: the treasures of the kings-gold, silver and precious stones, which the kings collect in their treasure houses.  
and the provinces: the treasure of all merchants.  
various types of musical instruments: Heb. שָּׁרִים וְשָּׁרוֹת, various types of musical instruments.  
wagons and coaches: Heb. שִּׁדָה וְשִּׁדוֹת beautiful coaches, covered wagons, and in the Gemara, [we find] a coach (שִּׁדָה) , a chest, and a closet.  
9. So I became great, and I increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me.   ט. וְגָדַלְתִּי וְהוֹסַפְתִּי מִכֹּל שֶׁהָיָה לְפָנַי בִּירוּשָׁלָ ִם אַף חָכְמָתִי עָמְדָה לִּי:
also my wisdom remained with me: Also, I did not forsake my wisdom because of all these affairs, and it remained with me; I did not forget it. Another explanation: It stood by me to aid me against all these.  
10. And [of] all that my eyes desired I did not deprive them; I did not deprive my heart of any joy, but my heart rejoiced with all my toil, and this was my portion from all my toil.   י. וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר שָׁאֲלוּ עֵינַי לֹא אָצַלְתִּי מֵהֶם לֹא מָנַעְתִּי אֶת לִבִּי מִכָּל שִׂמְחָה כִּי לִבִּי שָׂמֵחַ מִכָּל עֲמָלִי וְזֶה הָיָה חֶלְקִי מִכָּל עֲמָלִי:
I did not deprive: I did not distance them to separate from them, and so (Num. 11: 25): “and He held back (וַיָאצֶל) some of the spirit… and placed [it] on… the elders,” like a candelabrum from which many candles are kindled, and its light is not at all diminished.  
and this was my portion: And after doing all these, I have nothing [left] of all of them but this. Rav and Shmuel [differ]: One says, his staff, and one says, his cup. קִידוֹ is an earthenware cup, from which [people] drink (Gittin 68b). Others in the Midrash Aggadah (Ecc. Zuta 2:8) interpret the entire section as referring to study halls, students, and synagogues [as follows]:  
[6] a forest sprouting with trees: the ignorant people, for the work of fields and vineyards.  
11. Then I turned [to look] at all my deeds that my hands had wrought and upon the toil that I had toiled to do, and behold everything is vanity and frustration, and there is no profit under the sun.   יא. וּפָנִיתִי אֲנִי בְּכָל מַעֲשַׂי שֶׁעָשׂוּ יָדַי וּבֶעָמָל שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת וְהִנֵּה הַכֹּל הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ וְאֵין יִתְרוֹן תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
Then I turned: now in all my deeds, and I see that there is no profit in them, for from all of them I am lacking.  
12. And I turned to see wisdom and madness and folly, for what is the man who will come after the king, concerning that which they have already done?   יב. וּפָנִיתִי אֲנִי לִרְאוֹת חָכְמָה וְהוֹלֵלוֹת וְסִכְלוּת כִּי | מֶה הָאָדָם שֶׁיָּבוֹא אַחֲרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵת אֲשֶׁר כְּבָר עָשׂוּהוּ:
And I turned to see wisdom: I turn from all my affairs to ponder over the Torah and madness and folly, [meaning] the punishment for transgressions.  
for what is the man who will come after the king: to supplicate him concerning a decree that they decreed upon him, and they already executed the decree. It is better for him to ponder at first upon his deeds, and he will find it unnecessary to beg.  
13. And I saw that wisdom has an advantage over folly, as the advantage of light over darkness.   יג. וְרָאִיתִי אָנִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ יִתְרוֹן לַחָכְמָה מִן הַסִּכְלוּת כִּיתְרוֹן הָאוֹר מִן הַחֹשֶׁךְ:
over folly: That is wickedness.  
14. The wise man has eyes in its beginning, but the fool goes in the darkness, and I too know that one event happens to them all.   יד. הֶחָכָם עֵינָיו בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וְהַכְּסִיל בַּחֹשֶׁךְ הוֹלֵךְ וְיָדַעְתִּי גַם אָנִי שֶׁמִּקְרֶה אֶחָד יִקְרֶה אֶת כֻּלָּם:
The wise man has eyes in its beginning: In the beginning of the matter, he observes what will be at its end.  
and I too know: Also, I, who praise the wise man over the fool, know that they both will die.  
15. And I said to myself, "As it happens to the fool, so will it happen to me too, so why then did I become wiser?" And I said to myself that this too is vanity.   טו. וְאָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי כְּמִקְרֵה הַכְּסִיל גַּם אֲנִי יִקְרֵנִי וְלָמָּה חָכַמְתִּי אֲנִי אָז יֹתֵר וְדִבַּרְתִּי בְלִבִּי שֶׁגַּם זֶה הָבֶל:
And I said to myself, etc.: i.e., since they will both die, perhaps I will think in my heart from now on that as it happens to the wicked man, so will it happen to me. So why should I be more righteous?  
And I said to myself: that if I think so, that is vanity, for the remembrances of the wise man and the fool are not equal. After their deaths, both of them will not be remembered together, for this one will be remembered for good, and this one will be remembered for evil.  
16. For there is no remembrance of the wise man even as of the fool forever, seeing that in the coming days, all is forgotten. And how shall the wise die with the fool?   טז. כִּי אֵין זִכְרוֹן לֶחָכָם עִם הַכְּסִיל לְעוֹלָם בְּשֶׁכְּבָר הַיָּמִים הַבָּאִים הַכֹּל נִשְׁכָּח וְאֵיךְ יָמוּת הֶחָכָם עִם הַכְּסִיל:
for seeing that in the coming days all is forgotten: Because I see the wicked who already lived, and who were very successful, and in the days that came after them, all their heroism and their success were forgotten.  
And how shall the wise die with the fool: I see the righteous prospering in their deaths and availing their children, for example (Lev. 26:42): “And I shall remember My covenant with Jacob, etc.” ; (Jer. 2:2): “I remember for you the love of your youth.”  
17. So I hated the living, for the deed that was done under the sun grieved me, for everything is vanity and frustration.   יז. וְשָׂנֵאתִי אֶת הַחַיִּים כִּי רַע עָלַי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ כִּי הַכֹּל הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ:
So I hated the living: for he was prophesying about the generation of Rehoboam, who were wicked.  
18. And I hated all my toil that I toil under the sun, that I should leave it to the man who will be after me.   יח. וְשָׂנֵאתִי אֲנִי אֶת כָּל עֲמָלִי שֶׁאֲנִי עָמֵל תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ שֶׁאַנִּיחֶנּוּ לָאָדָם שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אַחֲרָי:
19. And who knows whether he will be wise or foolish. And he will rule over all my toil that I have toiled and that I have gained wisdom under the sun; this too is vanity.   יט. וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ הֶחָכָם יִהְיֶה אוֹ סָכָל וְיִשְׁלַט בְּכָל עֲמָלִי שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי וְשֶׁחָכַמְתִּי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ גַּם זֶה הָבֶל:
This too is vanity: This too is one of the vanities that were created in the world, that the wise man toils, and the fool inherits him.  
20. And I turned about to cause my heart to despair concerning all the toil that I toiled under the sun.   כ. וְסַבּוֹתִי אֲנִי לְיַאֵשׁ אֶת לִבִּי עַל כָּל הֶעָמָל שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
And I turned about to cause my heart to despair: not to toil and labor.  
21. For there is a man whose toil is with wisdom and with knowledge and with honesty and to a man who did not toil for it he will give it as his portion; this too is vanity and a great evil.   כא. כִּי יֵשׁ אָדָם שֶׁעֲמָלוֹ בְּחָכְמָה וּבְדַעַת וּבְכִשְׁרוֹן וּלְאָדָם שֶׁלֹּא עָמַל בּוֹ יִתְּנֶנּוּ חֶלְקוֹ גַּם זֶה הֶבֶל וְרָעָה רַבָּה:
For there is a man: Its apparent interpretation is according to its simple meaning, but the Midrash Aggadah in Tanhuma (Buber, vol. 1, p. 24) interprets it as an expression referring to the Holy One, blessed be He, concerning Whom it is said (Ezek. 1:26): “and on the likeness of the throne was a likeness like the appearance of a man.”  
whose toil is with wisdom: as it is said (Prov. 3:19f): “The Lord founded the earth with wisdom… With His knowledge the depths were split,” and to the creatures who did not toil in it, He gave a share in it.  
this too is vanity and a great evil: And they became a generation of vanity and the evil of man became great on the earth in the Generation of the Flood.  
22. For what has a man out of all his toil and the breaking of his heart that he toils under the sun?   כב. כִּי מֶה הֹוֶה לָאָדָם בְּכָל עֲמָלוֹ וּבְרַעְיוֹן לִבּוֹ שְׁהוּא עָמֵל תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
For what has, etc.: For what profit has a man in all his toil and the breaking of his heart with toil and worry, which he toils, and leaves for others.  
23. For all his days are pains and his occupation is vexation; even at night his heart does not rest; this too is vanity.   כג. כִּי כָל יָמָיו מַכְאֹבִים וָכַעַס עִנְיָנוֹ גַּם בַּלַּיְלָה לֹא שָׁכַב לִבּוֹ גַּם זֶה הֶבֶל הוּא:
his occupation: Heb. עִנְיָנוֹ, his custom.  
this too: is one of the vanities that prevail in the world.  
24. Is it not good for a man that he eat and drink and show himself enjoyment in his toil? This too have I seen that it is from the hand of God.   כד. אֵין טוֹב בָּאָדָם שֶׁיֹּאכַל וְשָׁתָה וְהֶרְאָה אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ טוֹב בַּעֲמָלוֹ גַּם זֹה רָאִיתִי אָנִי כִּי מִיַּד הָאֱלֹהִים הִיא:
Is it not good for a man: This is a question. [Is it not good for a man] that he eat and drink and show himself enjoyment? That is, let him pay heed to performing justice and righteousness with the eating and the drinking, and so it was said to Jehoiakim (Jer. 22:15): “Your father-did he not eat and drink and perform justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.”  
25. For who will eat and who will hasten [to swallow it] except me?   כה. כִּי מִי יֹאכַל וּמִי יָחוּשׁ חוּץ מִמֶּנִּי:
For who will eat, etc.: Why shall I not rejoice with my portion in eating and drinking? Who is fit to eat what I toiled for, and who will hasten to swallow it, except me?  
except me: lit. outside of me. This is the trait of the wicked, who gather for others [i.e., they gather wealth that will ultimately go to others.  
26. For to a man who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He has given an occupation to gather and to accumulate, to give to him who is good in God's sight; this too is vanity and frustration.   כו. כִּי לְאָדָם שֶׁטּוֹב לְפָנָיו נָתַן חָכְמָה וְדַעַת וְשִׂמְחָה וְלַחוֹטֶא נָתַן עִנְיָן לֶאֱסֹף וְלִכְנוֹס לָתֵת לְטוֹב לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים גַּם זֶה הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ:
For to a man who is good in His sight: in the sight of God, mentioned above, “that it is from the hand of God.”  
He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy: a heart to engage in the Torah and in the commandments and to rejoice in his portion of eating, drinking, and clean clothing.  
but to the sinner He has given an occupation: a habit and a concern to gather and to accumulate, and to give to him who is good in God’s sight, as it is stated (Esther 8:2): “and Esther placed Mordecai in charge of the house of Haman.”  
this too: is one of the vanities that were given to the creatures, that they toil, and someone else takes [the fruits].  
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