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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 3

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 3

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 3

1. Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.   א. לַכֹּל זְמָן וְעֵת לְכָל חֵפֶץ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם:
Everything has an appointed season: Let not the gatherer of wealth from vanity rejoice, for even though it is in his hand now, the righteous will yet inherit it; only the time has not yet arrived, for everything has an appointed season when it will be.  
for every matter: Heb. חֵפֶץ, for every thing. All things are called חֲפָצִים in the language of the Mishnah.  
2. A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.   ב. עֵת לָלֶדֶת וְעֵת לָמוּת עֵת לָטַעַת וְעֵת לַעֲקוֹר נָטוּעַ:
A time to give birth: at nine months.  
and a time to die: the limit of the years of every generation.  
a time to plant: a nation and a kingdom.  
and a time to uproot: A time will come for it to be uprooted.  
3. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build.   ג. עֵת לַהֲרוֹג וְעֵת לִרְפּוֹא עֵת לִפְרוֹץ וְעֵת לִבְנוֹת:
A time to kill: an entire nation, when the day of its visitation arrives, as it is said (Isa. 14:30): “and he shall slay your remnant with the sword (sic).”  
and a time to heal: their ruin, as it is written concerning Egypt (ibid. 19:22): “and they shall return to the Lord, and He shall accept their prayer and heal them.”  
a time to break: the wall of the city, when it is decreed upon it, as it is said (Neh. 1:3): “and the wall of Jerusalem is breached.”  
and a time to build: as it is said (Amos 9: 11): “and build it up as in the days of yore.”  
4. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing.   ד. עֵת לִבְכּוֹת וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק עֵת סְפוֹד וְעֵת רְקוֹד:
A time to weep: on the ninth of Av.  
and a time to laugh: in the future, as it is said (Ps. 126:2): “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter.”  
a time of wailing: in the days of mourning.  
and a time of dancing: with bridegrooms and brides.  
5. A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.   ה. עֵת לְהַשְׁלִיךְ אֲבָנִים וְעֵת כְּנוֹס אֲבָנִים עֵת לַחֲבוֹק וְעֵת לִרְחֹק מֵחַבֵּק:
A time to cast stones: The youths of Israel scattered during the destruction of the Temple: (Lam. 4: 1): “The holy stones are scattered.”  
and a time to gather: them from the exile, as it is written (Zech. 9:16): “And the Lord God (sic) shall save them on that day like the flocks of his people, for crown stones are exalted on His land.”  
a time to embrace: (Jer. 13: 11): “For, just as a girdle clings etc.”  
and a time to refrain from embracing: (Isa. 6:12): “And the Lord removes the people far away.”  
6. A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away.   ו. עֵת לְבַקֵּשׁ וְעֵת לְאַבֵּד עֵת לִשְׁמוֹר וְעֵת לְהַשְׁלִיךְ:
A time to seek: As it is stated (Ezek. 34:16): “I will seek the lost,” concerning those of Israel gone astray.  
and a time to lose: and a time when He lost them in exile, as it is said (Lev. 26: 38): “And you will become lost among the nations.”  
a time to keep: (Num. 6:24): “May the Lord bless you and keep you,” when you do His will.  
and a time to cast away: (Deut. 29:27): “and cast them into another land.”  
7. A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak.   ז. עֵת לִקְרוֹעַ וְעֵת לִתְפּוֹר עֵת לַחֲשׁוֹת וְעֵת לְדַבֵּר:
A time to rend: the kingdom of the House of David, as it is said (I Kings 14:8): “And I tore the kingdom, etc.”  
and a time to sew: (Ezek. 37:17): “and they shall be one in your hand” ; (ibid. verse 22): “neither shall they any longer be divided into two kingdoms.”  
a time to be silent: Sometimes a person is silent and receives a reward, as it is said (Lev. 10:3): “and Aaron was silent,” and he merited that the Divine speech be especially addressed to him, as it is said (ibid. verse 8): “And the Lord spoke to Aaron: Drink neither wine nor strong drink.”  
and a time to speak: (Exod. 15:1): “Then Moses… sang” ; (Jud. 5: 1): “Now Deborah… sang” ; (Hos. 14:3): “Take words with you.”  
8. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.   ח. עֵת לֶאֱהֹב וְעֵת לִשְׂנֹא עֵת מִלְחָמָה וְעֵת שָׁלוֹם:
A time to love: (Deut. 7:13): “and He will love you.”  
and a time to hate: (Hos. 9:15): “All their evil is in Gilgal; therefore (sic) I hated them.”  
9. What profit has the one who works in that which he toils?   ט. מַה יִּתְרוֹן הָעוֹשֶׂה בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא עָמֵל:
What profit has the one who works: What is the profit of the one who does evil in all that he toils? He too-his time will come, and all will be lost.  
10. I have seen the occupation that God gave to the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.   י. רָאִיתִי אֶת הָעִנְיָן אֲשֶׁר נָתַן אֱלֹהִים לִבְנֵי הָאָדָם לַעֲנוֹת בּוֹ:
the occupation: Heb. הָעִנְיָן, the behavior.  
to occupy themselves: Heb. לַעֲנוֹת, to behave.  
11. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also the [wisdom of] the world He put into their hearts, save that man should not find the deed which God did, from beginning to end.   יא. אֶת הַכֹּל עָשָׂה יָפֶה בְעִתּוֹ גַּם אֶת הָעֹלָם נָתַן בְּלִבָּם מִבְּלִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִמְצָא הָאָדָם אֶת הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹהִים מֵרֹאשׁ וְעַד סוֹף:
everything beautiful in its time: At the time of good, it is beautiful that the reward be given for good deeds, and at the time of evil, it is fitting for the recompense for evil deeds.  
also the world He put in their hearts, etc.: Also the wisdom of the world that He put into the hearts of the creatures-He did not put it all into the heart of everyone, but [He gave] a little to this one and a little to that one, in order that man should not comprehend the entire deed of the Holy One, blessed be He, to know it; and he will not know the day of his visitation [i.e., the day of his death] and on what he will stumble, in order that he put his heart to repent, so that he will be concerned and say, “Today or tomorrow I will die.” Therefore, הָעֹלָם is written here defectively, an expression of concealment (הַעֲלָמָה) , for if man would know that the day of his death was near, he would neither build a house nor plant a vineyard. Therefore, he says that He made everything beautiful in its time. The fact that there is a time for death is a beautiful thing, for a person relies and says, “Perhaps the time of my death is far off,” and he builds a house and plants a vineyard, and it is [therefore] beautiful that it is concealed from people.  
12. I knew that there is nothing better for them but to rejoice and to do good during his lifetime.   יב. יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אֵין טוֹב בָּם כִּי אִם לִשְׂמוֹחַ וְלַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹב בְּחַיָּיו:
I knew: now, since the time of visitation is concealed, that there is no [other] good for man but to rejoice with his portion and to do that which is good in the sight of his Creator, as long as he lives.  
13. And also, every man who eats and drinks and enjoys what is good in all his toil, it is a gift of God.   יג. וְגַם כָּל הָאָדָם שֶׁיֹּאכַל וְשָׁתָה וְרָאָה טוֹב בְּכָל עֲמָלוֹ מַתַּת אֱלֹהִים הִיא:
and enjoys what is good: The Torah and the commandments.  
14. I knew that everything that God made, that will be forever; we cannot add to it, nor can we subtract from it; and God made it so that they fear Him.   יד. יָדַעְתִּי כִּי כָּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה הָאֱלֹהִים הוּא יִהְיֶה לְעוֹלָם עָלָיו אֵין לְהוֹסִיף וּמִמֶּנּוּ אֵין לִגְרוֹעַ וְהָאֱלֹהִים עָשָׂה שֶׁיִּרְאוּ מִלְּפָנָיו:
I knew that everything that God made: [i.e.,] that the Holy One, blessed be He, [made] in the Creation, is fit to exist forever, and it cannot be changed, either by adding or by diminishing, and when it is changed, God commanded and caused it to be changed, in order that they should fear Him. The ocean broke through its boundary in the generation of Enosh and inundated a third of the world, and God did this so that they would fear Him. For seven days, the course of the sun was changed in the Generation of the Flood, to rise in the west and set in the east, in order that they fear Him. The sun went back ten steps in the days of Hezekiah, and in the days of Ahaz his father, the day was shortened and the night was lengthened on the day of his death, so that he should not be eulogized. All this was so that they would fear Him. Therefore, there is nothing better for a man to occupy himself with than with His commandments and to fear Him.  
15. That which was is already [done], and that which is [destined] to be, already was, and God seeks the pursued.   טו. מַה שֶּׁהָיָה כְּבָר הוּא וַאֲשֶׁר לִהְיוֹת כְּבָר הָיָה וְהָאֱלֹהִים יְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת נִרְדָּף:
That which was is already: That which was before us, was already done, and we saw it or heard it from others who saw it, and we can attest to it, for we saw that the Holy One, blessed be He, seeks the pursued. Jacob was pursued, [and] Esau was a pursuer, (Mal. 1:2f): “And I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau.” The Egyptians pursued Israel. The Egyptians drowned in the sea, and Israel went forth with a high hand.  
and that which: is destined to be at the end is a model of what already was. As it was in the beginning, so will it be at the end. The Holy One, blessed be He, does not change His standards in the world.  
and God seeks the pursued: to punish the pursuer. Therefore, what is the profit of one who does evil in what he toils? He is destined to he called to account.  
16. And moreover, I saw under the sun, [in] the place of justice, there is wickedness, and [in] the place of righteousness, there is wickedness.   טז. וְעוֹד רָאִיתִי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ מְקוֹם הַמִּשְׁפָּט שָׁמָּה הָרֶשַׁע וּמְקוֹם הַצֶּדֶק שָׁמָּה הָרָשַׁע:
the place of justice, etc.: I saw with the holy spirit the place of the Chamber of Hewn Stone in Jerusalem, which was (Isa. 1:21): “full of justice” ; there they will judge wickedly, as it is said (Micah 3:11): “Its heads judge for bribes,” and I saw their punishment.  
and the place of righteousness: the middle gate, which was the place of deciding the laws.  
there is wickedness: there sat Sarsachim, Rab-Saris, Nergal- Sarezer, Rab-Mag (Jer. 39:3), and Nebuchadnezzar and his hosts, and they judged Israel with harsh tortures and death sentences.  
there is wickedness: Heb. הָרָשַׁע. The accent mark is before the last syllable, indicating that it is a noun like הָרֶשַּׁע, but since it is the end of the verse, it is changed to be vowelized with a “kamatz,” although we do not find another instance of this word that changes in the case of an ethnachta or a sof pasuk.  
17. I said to myself, "God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every deed there."   יז. אָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי אֶת הַצַּדִּיק וְאֶת הָרָשָׁע יִשְׁפֹּט הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי עֵת לְכָל חֵפֶץ וְעַל כָּל הַמַּעֲשֶׂה שָׁם:
I said to myself, etc.: Therefore, I say: The Holy One, blessed be He, judges everyone after a time, and even though the matter is delayed, it will ultimately reach its time, for there is a time for every matter, even for retribution, and there is a time for the visitation of judgment.  
and for every deed: that man did, they will judge him there when the time of the visitation arrives; there at that time, a time is given for every deed, to be judged for it. [The Rabbis say:] At the gate of the fold there are words (of bargaining), but in the stall (where the sheep are delivered) there is strict accounting (Shab. 32a).  
18. I said to myself, [that this is] because of the children of men, so that God should clarify for them, so that they may see that they are [like] beasts to themselves.   יח. אָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי עַל דִּבְרַת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם לְבָרָם הָאֱלֹהִים וְלִרְאוֹת שְׁהֶם בְּהֵמָה הֵמָּה לָהֶם:
I said to myself: when I saw all this.  
[that this is] because of the children of men: who adopted the trait of haughtiness, to exert rulership and superiority over those smaller than they.  
[so that God] should clarify for them: The Holy One, blessed be He [judges them], to let them know that their rulership is naught, and to show them and also the princes and the kings.  
that they are like beasts to themselves: like other cattle and beasts they are to themselves.  
19. For there is a happening for the children of men, and there is a happening for the beasts-and they have one happening-like the death of this one is the death of that one, and all have one spirit, and the superiority of man over beast is nought, for all is vanity.   יט. כִּי מִקְרֶה בְנֵי הָאָדָם וּמִקְרֶה הַבְּהֵמָה וּמִקְרֶה אֶחָד לָהֶם כְּמוֹת זֶה כֵּן מוֹת זֶה וְרוּחַ אֶחָד לַכֹּל וּמוֹתַר הָאָדָם מִן הַבְּהֵמָה אָיִן כִּי הַכֹּל הָבֶל:
For the happening of the children of men, etc.: This is the reason for the matter, that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave a fate and a mishap to the children of men, and there is a fate and a mishap to the beasts, and He gave one fate to them both, for just as this one dies, so does that one die.  
and the superiority of man over beast: And the superiority and success of man over the beasts is not apparent after he dies, for everything is converted to become vanity, to return to the dust.  
20. All go to one place; all came from the dust, and all return to the dust.   כ. הַכֹּל הוֹלֵךְ אֶל מָקוֹם אֶחָד הַכֹּל הָיָה מִן הֶעָפָר וְהַכֹּל שָׁב אֶל הֶעָפָר:
21. Who knows that the spirit of the children of men is that which ascends on high and the spirit of the beast is that which descends below to the earth?   כא. מִי יוֹדֵעַ רוּחַ בְּנֵי הָאָדָם הָעֹלָה הִיא לְמָעְלָה וְרוּחַ הַבְּהֵמָה הַיֹּרֶדֶת הִיא לְמַטָּה לָאָרֶץ:
Who knows: Like (Joel 2: 14): “Whoever knows shall repent.” Who is it who understands and puts his heart to [the fact] that the spirit of the children of men ascends above and stands in judgment, and the spirit of the beast descends below to the earth, and does not have to give an accounting. Therefore, one must not behave like a beast, which does not care about its deeds.  
22. And I saw that there is nothing better than that man rejoice in his deeds, for that is his portion, for who will bring him to see what will be after him?   כב. וְרָאִיתִי כִּי אֵין טוֹב מֵאֲשֶׁר יִשְׂמַח הָאָדָם בְּמַעֲשָׂיו כִּי הוּא חֶלְקוֹ כִּי מִי יְבִיאֶנּוּ לִרְאוֹת בְּמֶה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אַחֲרָיו:
And I saw: in all of these.  
that there is nothing better: for man.  
than that man rejoice in his deeds: in the toil of his hands he should rejoice and eat, but not to widen his desire like the grave, to covet riches, to accumulate that which is not his.  
for that is his portion: The toil of his hands-that is his portion given him from Heaven, and with it he will rejoice.  
for who will bring him to see: after he dies, what his sons will have; if they too will prosper with the riches that he gathered and left over for them or whether they will not prosper.  
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