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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 11

Kohelet - Ecclesiastes - Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

1Send forth your bread upon the surface of the water, for after many days you will find it.   אשַׁלַּח לַחְמְךָ עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם כִּי בְרֹב הַיָּמִים תִּמְצָאֶנּוּ:
Send forth your bread upon the surface of the water: Do goodness and kindness to a person about whom your heart tells you that you will never see him again, like a person who casts his food upon the surface of the water.  
for after many days you will find it: Days will yet come, and you will receive your recompense. Note what is said about Jethro (Exod. 2:20): “Call him that he should eat bread,” and he thought that he (Moses) was an Egyptian and that he would never see him again. What was his end? He became his son- in-law and reigned over Israel and brought him under the wings of the Shechinah, and his sons and grandsons merited to sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.  
2Give a portion to seven and even to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.   בתֶּן חֵלֶק לְשִׁבְעָה וְגַם לִשְׁמוֹנָה כִּי לֹא תֵדַע מַה יִּהְיֶה רָעָה עַל הָאָרֶץ:
Give a portion to seven and even to eight: If you have shared your food and your drink with seven who need kindness, share further with eight who come after them, and do not say, “Enough.”  
for you do not know what evil will be: Perhaps days will yet come and you will need them all. Then you will be saved from the evil by this charity, and if not now, when? Our Sages, however, said:  
Give a portion, etc.: These are the seven days of Creation. Give one of them as a portion to your Creator, to rest on the Sabbath.  
and even to eight: These are the eight days preceding circumcision. Another explanation:  
Give a portion to seven: the communal sacrifices of the seven days of Passover.  
and even to eight: days of the Festival [of Succoth].  
for you do not know what evil will be: if the Temple will be destroyed, and you will not sacrifice any longer, and the first sacrifices will avail to annul the evil decree. Another explanation:  
for you do not know what will be: You do not know what has been decreed on the rains on the Festival [of Succoth], and the sacrifices will avail, and they will annul evil decrees.  
3If the clouds be full of rain, they will empty it upon the earth, and if a tree rests in the south or in the north, the place where the tree rests, there it will be.   גאִם יִמָּלְאוּ הֶעָבִים גֶּשֶׁם עַל הָאָרֶץ יָרִיקוּ וְאִם יִפּוֹל עֵץ בַּדָּרוֹם וְאִם בַּצָּפוֹן מְקוֹם שֶׁיִּפּוֹל הָעֵץ שָׁם יְהוּא:
If the clouds be full of rain: If you have seen clouds full of rain, you know that they will ultimately empty their rains upon the earth. In the place where the benefit grows and is discernible, there it is destined to come to rest. Likewise, you should know that if a tree rests, etc. If a wise and righteous man resides in a city or in a province, the place where he resides, there his deeds will be discernible after his demise, and his words of wisdom, his exemplary traits and his bestowal of goodness upon the inhabitants of the place through his good custom that he guided them on the straight road.  
rests: Heb. יִפּוֹל, will rest (or dwell), like (Gen. 25:18): “before the face of all his brothers did he settle (נָפָל).”  
a tree: A Torah scholar, who protects with his merit like a tree, which shades the ground.  
4He who waits for the wind will not sow, and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.   דשֹׁמֵר רוּחַ לֹא יִזְרָע וְרֹאֶה בֶעָבִים לֹא יִקְצוֹר:
He who waits for the wind: he who waits and looks forward until the wind comes.  
will not sow: Sometimes he waits, and it does not come.  
and he who looks at the clouds: He looks at the clouds, and when he sees them darkening, he is afraid to reap because of the rains; [such a person] will never reap because he is always afraid.  
5As you do not know what is the way of the wind, just as things enclosed in the full womb; so will you not know God's work, Who does everything.   הכַּאֲשֶׁר אֵינְךָ יוֹדֵעַ מַה דֶּרֶךְ הָרוּחַ כַּעֲצָמִים בְּבֶטֶן הַמְּלֵאָה כָּכָה לֹא תֵדַע אֶת מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת הַכֹּל:
As you do not know, etc., as things enclosed in the full womb: things closed in and confined in the womb which is full, even though it protrudes outward, just as you do not know the way of the wind. This is a transposed verse, expounded from its end to its beginning. Just as you do not know the way of the wind, i.e., the knowledge of both these things is equal. Neither is this one revealed to you nor is that one revealed to you. Sometimes you think to perceive in the clouds that the wind will come, and it does not come here, but it passes and goes away to another land. This expression is like (Gen. 13: 10): “like the garden of the Lord, so the land of Egypt” ; (Isa. 24: 2): “as with the maidservant, so with her mistress; as with the buyer so with the seller.” Sometimes Scripture compares the former to the latter, and sometimes it compares the latter to the former. Here too, it teaches the knowledge of the wind from the knowledge of the womb, i.e., you should not await the wind by looking at the clouds. (GLOSS: This matter is transposed in Rashi’s words, and it is in the opposite order. We must therefore emend it as it is in exact editions, and then it will better understood, and this is the authentic version:  
As you do not know: This is a transposed verse, explained from the end to the beginning: Just as you cannot identify the things enclosed in the full womb, that is, the things closed in and confined in the full womb, and even though it protrudes outward, you do not know what is in her womb, so do you not know the way of the wind, i.e., the knowledge of both these things is equal [from the book Sifthei Hachamim].)  
as things enclosed: Heb כַּעֲצָמִים, enclos in Old French, like (Isa. 33:15): “and closes (וְעֹצֵם) his eyes.”  
so you will not know, etc.: Also the decrees of the Omnipresent in matters of poverty and riches are hidden from you, and you should not refrain from doing kindness because you are concerned, perhaps I will lack some of my possessions and become impoverished. I will not engage in Torah and neglect my work and become poor. I will not wed and have children, because I will have to spend money on them.  
6In the morning, sow your seed, and in the evening, do not withhold your hand, for you know not which will succeed, this one or that one, or whether both of them will be equally good.   ובַּבֹּקֶר זְרַע אֶת זַרְעֶךָ וְלָעֶרֶב אַל תַּנַּח יָדֶךָ כִּי אֵינְךָ יוֹדֵע אֵי זֶה יִכְשַׁר הֲזֶה אוֹ זֶה וְאִם שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּאֶחָד טוֹבִים:
In the morning, sow your seed: If your learned Torah in your youth, learn Torah in your old age. If you had disciples in your youth, you should have disciples in your old age. If you married a woman of childbearing age in your youth, you should marry a woman of childbearing age in your old age. If you performed acts of kindness in your youth, perform acts of kindness in your old age.  
for you know not which will succeed: whether the disciples and the children of your youth will survive you, or perhaps only those of your old age will survive. We find in the case of Rabbi Akiva that he had twenty-four thousand disciples from Gabbath to Antipatris, and they all died between Passover and Shavuoth, and he came to our Sages in the south and taught them. And concerning children, we find in the case of Ibzan, (Jud. 12:9): “and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in for his sons,” and they all died in his lifetime (Baba Bathra 91a), but in his old age, he begot Obed, who survived him.  
7And the light is sweet, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun.   זוּמָתוֹק הָאוֹר וְטוֹב לַעֵינַיִם לִרְאוֹת אֶת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
And the light is sweet: The light of Torah is sweet.  
and it is good for the eyes to see the sun: And fortunate are the disciples whose eyes see an halachah explained and clarified thoroughly. So is it expounded in Midrash Psalms (ad loc.).  
8For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many; all that befalls [him] is vanity.   חכִּי אִם שָׁנִים הַרְבֵּה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם בְּכֻלָּם יִשְׂמָח וְיִזְכֹּר אֶת יְמֵי הַחֹשֶׁךְ כִּי הַרְבֵּה יִהְיוּ כָּל שֶׁבָּא הָבֶל:
let him rejoice in them all: Let him be happy with his lot, provided that he remember the days of darkness and improve his deeds so that he be saved from them, and these are the days of eternal death; they are the days of the wicked.  
for they will be many: in those days, more than the days of life.  
all that befalls: him will be vanity and darkness. There is הֶבֶל, that is an expression of retribution and troubles, like (above 6:4): “for he comes in vanity and goes in darkness.”  
9Rejoice, O youth, in your childhood, and let your heart bring you cheer in the days of your youth, and go in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes, but know that for all these God will bring you to judgment.   טשְׂמַח בָּחוּר בְּיַלְדוּתֶךָ וִיטִיבְךָ לִבְּךָ בִּימֵי בְחוּרוֹתֶךָ וְהַלֵּךְ בְּדַרְכֵי לִבְּךָ וּבְמַרְאֵה (כתיב וּבְמַרְאֵי) עֵינֶיךָ וְדָע כִּי עַל כָּל אֵלֶּה יְבִיאֲךָ הָאֱלֹהִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט:
Rejoice, O youth, in your childhood: like a man who says to his slave or to his son, “Sin, sin, for one time you will suffer for all.” Here too, the wise man says: “Rejoice, O youth, in your childhood… and go in the ways of your heart,” but be assured “that for all these, the judge will bring you to judgment.”  
10And remove anger from your heart, and take evil away from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.   יוְהָסֵר כַּעַס מִלִּבֶּךָ וְהַעֲבֵר רָעָה מִבְּשָׂרֶךָ כִּי הַיַּלְדוּת וְהַשַּׁחֲרוּת הָבֶל:
And remove anger: things that anger the Omnipresent.  
and take evil away: the evil inclination.  
from your flesh: that you should have a heart of flesh.  
and youth: Heb. וְהַשַׁחֲרוּת, lit. blackness, youth, called thus because [the hair on] a person’s head is black in his youth.  
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