You may have seen the clip on YouTube. A terrorist drives a car down the sidewalk in the heart of Jerusalem. Then, brandishing an axe, he jumps out and strikes bystanders. The man killed in that brutal and bloody attack was Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky.

A noted scholar and author, Rabbi Krishevsky published a series of books on the weekly Torah portion. He also included a collection of clever sayings from his mother. Here, we’ve translated a number of them as a lasting tribute to a wise woman and her son, whose productive life ended much too early.

Some of these pearls of wisdom may sound familiar; others may be new. They all carry within them the insight garnered through years of living an honest and loving life.

(The indented sayings themselves are from his mother. The commentary was added in Hebrew by Rabbi Krishevsky.)

Do What Makes Sense

To people confused by too many advisors, my mother would say:

“Listen to as many people as you wish, but when it comes to doing, just do what makes sense to you.”

On Lineage

Regarding those people who would feel important due to famous family connections and learned ancestors, Mother would remark:

“Family is like a piece of jewelry. If the person himself is nice, a string of pearls only adds to the beauty. If, however, the person is not quite like his or her ancestors, it’s as fitting as a golden ring tossed onto a heap of garbage.”

The Secret to Patience

“Mother would say in Yiddishkoach ligt in shissel’—‘strength lies in the trencher.’ When a person is well-fed, he has patience for everything and everyone. But someone who is hungry is impatient with those around him.

The truth is that this concept is found in the Talmud (Shabbat 152): “Eat with your teeth, and you will find it in your steps.” When a person eats, every part of him feels better.

Losing Sight of What’s Important

Regarding those who get lost in unimportant details and neglect more basic things, Mother would remark:

They let the blanket fall as they run to catch a stray stalk of straw.”

It Takes Two

My mother would often say:

It’s impossible to fight alone.”

If someone is acting improperly toward you, you have two choices. You can tell them off, they’ll shout back at you, and you’ll have instigated a full-blown argument. Or you can chose to remain silent, and the whole thing will blow over.

It’s All in the Morale

And one of the most important ideas to remember:

When morale is gone, all is lost.”

So says Solomon in his wisdom: “A man’s spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit, who will bear it?” When people are joyful, they can survive any ordeal, even illness. But when they are down and depressed, they are unable to bear even the smallest burden.

It’s said that when Napoleon swept his armies through Europe, he made sure that the soldiers were always accompanied by marching bands. Thus, they’d enter into battle, happy, optimistic and ready to win.