Chapter 17

1Better a piece of dry bread and tranquility with it, than a house full of sacrifices of strife.   אט֤וֹב פַּ֣ת חֲ֖רֵבָה וְשַׁלְוָה־בָ֑הּ מִ֜בַּ֗יִת מָלֵ֥א זִבְחֵי־רִֽיב:
Better a piece of dry bread and tranquility with it: It would have been better for the Holy One, blessed be He, to destroy His Temple and His city, for He would enjoy tranquility from the sins of Israel.  
than a house full of sacrifices of strife: For they were sacrificing sacrifices of strife in his Temple.  
2An intelligent slave will rule over a disgraceful son, and among the brothers he will divide the inheritance.   בעֶֽבֶד־מַשְׂכִּ֗יל יִ֖מְשֹׁל בְּבֵ֣ן מֵבִ֑ישׁ וּבְת֥וֹךְ אַ֜חִ֗ים יַחֲלֹ֥ק נַחֲלָֽה:
An intelligent slave, etc.: Because Nebuchadnezzar was wise enough to take three steps in honor of the Holy One, blessed be He, he achieved greatness and ruled over Israel, who performed disgraceful deeds, and he divided their inheritance before their eyes. Another explanation: A righteous proselyte is better than a wicked person who was home born, and in the future, he will share the spoils and the inheritance among the children of Israel, as it is said (Ezek. 47:23): “And it shall be, in whatever tribe the stranger will live, etc.”  
3A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.   גמַצְרֵ֣ף לַ֖כֶּסֶף וְכ֣וּר לַזָּהָ֑ב וּבֹחֵ֖ן לִבּ֣וֹת יְהוָֽה:
A refining pot is for silver: A vessel in which they refine silver and which is made from burnt ash on earthenware is called מצרף, a refining pot.  
and a furnace is for gold: A vessel in which gold is refined, a vessel in which gold is purified, like a broken pot, is called כור, a furnace.  
A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace is for gold: The refining pot is made to refine silver for its work, and so is the furnace to purify the gold, but [peoples’] hearts-the Holy One, blessed be He, purifies them and tests them and knows their thoughts.  
4An evildoer hearkens to a language of violence; a liar lends an ear to destructive language.   דמֵרַע מַקְשִׁ֣יב עַל־שְׂפַת־אָ֑וֶן שֶׁ֥קֶר מֵ֜זִין עַל־לְשׁ֥וֹן הַוֹּֽת:
An evildoer: A wicked man.  
hearkens to a language of violence and lies: He accepts slander and false testimony.  
lends an ear: Heb. מזין like מאזין He who lies lends an ear to destructive speech.  
5He who mocks a poor man blasphemes his Maker; he who rejoices at a misfortune will not go unpunished.   הלֹעֵ֣ג לָ֖רָשׁ חֵרֵ֣ף עֹשֵֹ֑הוּ שָׂמֵ֥חַ לְ֜אֵ֗יד לֹ֣א יִנָּקֶֽה:
6Children's children are the crown of the aged, and the glory of the children is their fathers.   ועֲטֶ֣רֶת זְ֖קֵנִים בְּנֵ֣י בָנִ֑ים וְתִפְאֶ֖רֶת בָּנִ֣ים אֲבוֹתָֽם:
the crown of the aged: when they see their children’s children going on the good way.  
and the glory of the children is their fathers: When their fathers are righteous, it is glory for the children.  
7Proud words do not befit a vile person, surely not lying speech a generous one.   זלֹא־נָאוָ֣ה לְנָבָ֣ל שְׂפַת־יֶ֑תֶר אַ֜֗ף כִּֽי־לְנָדִ֥יב שְׂפַת־שָֽׁקֶר:
Proud words: Heb. שפת יתר, words of pride.  
surely not lying speech a generous one: And surely, lying speech does not befit a generous one.  
8A bribe is a precious stone in the eyes of the one who has it; wherever he turns, he prospers.   חאֶֽבֶן־חֵ֣ן הַ֖שֹּׁחַד בְּעֵינֵ֣י בְעָלָ֑יו אֶֽל־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִפְנֶ֣ה יַשְׂכִּֽיל:
a precious stone: When a person comes before the Holy One, blessed be He, and placates Him with words and returns to Him, in His eyes it is as a precious stone and as pearls.  
a precious stone: It is as a pearl in his eyes.  
wherever he turns, he prospers: In whatever he asks of Him, He makes him prosper.  
9He who conceals transgression seeks love, but he who harps on a matter alienates the Lord.   טמְֽכַסֶּה־פֶּ֖שַׁע מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ אַהֲבָ֑ה וְשֹׁנֶ֥ה בְ֜דָבָ֗ר מַפְרִ֥יד אַלּֽוּף:
He who conceals transgression seeks love: If one man sins against another, and the latter conceals it for him, does not remind him of his sin, and does not show him an angry face, he causes him to love him.  
but he who harps on a matter: Who bears a grudge and reminds him, “You did such and such a thing to me.” Immediately…  
alienates the Lord: Then he alienates the Lord of the world.  
10The humility caused by the rebuke of an understanding person [is more effective] than a hundred blows to a fool.   יתֵּ֣חַת גְּעָרָ֣ה בְמֵבִ֑ין מֵהַכּ֖וֹת כְּסִ֣יל מֵאָֽה:
The humility caused by the rebuke of an understanding person: Heb. תחת. The accent in the word תחת is above on the “tav,” unlike the rest of the Scriptures. Therefore, I say that it is a noun, like תחת and its explanation is as follows. The humility caused by a rebuke is recognizable in an understanding person more than one hundred blows that they strike the fool.  
11He who is only rebellious seeks evil, and a cruel angel shall be sent against him.   יאאַךְ־מְרִ֥י יְבַקֶּשׁ־רָ֑ע וּמַלְאָ֥ךְ אַ֜כְזָרִ֗י יְשֻׁלַּח־בּֽוֹ:
He who is only rebellious seeks evil: One whose every word is rebelliousness and stubbornness constantly seeks evil.  
12May a bereaving bear encounter a person rather than a fool with his folly.   יבפָּג֬וֹשׁ דֹּ֣ב שַׁכּ֣וּל בְּאִ֑ישׁ וְאַל־כְּ֜סִ֗יל בְּאִוַּלְתּֽוֹ:
May a bereaving bear encounter a person: It is better for a person that a bereaving bear encounter him rather than one of the foolish heathens, who entice him to idolatry.  
13He who repays evil for good-evil will not depart from his house.   יגמֵשִׁ֣יב רָ֖עָה תַּ֣חַת טוֹבָ֑ה לֹא־תָמ֥יּשׁ תָמ֥וּשׁ רָ֜עָ֗ה מִבֵּיתֽוֹ:
14The beginning of strife is like letting out water, and before you are exposed, abandon the quarrel.   ידפּ֣וֹטֵֽר מַ֖יִם רֵאשִׁ֣ית מָד֑וֹן וְלִפְנֵ֥י הִ֜תְגַּלַּ֗ע הָרִ֥יב נְטֽוֹשׁ:
The beginning of strife is like letting out water: Whoever commences a quarrel is like one who opens a hole in the stone walls of a water canal, and the water goes out through it, and the hole becomes progressively wider; so does the quarrel constantly escalate.  
and before you are exposed: Before your shame is exposed, abandon the quarrel.  
15He who vindicates the wicked and condemns the righteous-both are an abomination to the Lord.   טומַצְדִּ֣יק רָ֖שָׁע וּמַרְשִׁ֣יעַ צַדִּ֑יק תּוֹעֲבַ֥ת יְ֜הוָ֗ה גַּם־שְׁנֵיהֶֽם:
16Why is there a price in the fool's hand to buy wisdom, when the heart is not here?   טזלָמָּה־זֶּ֣ה מְחִ֣יר בְּיַד־כְּסִ֑יל לִקְנ֖וֹת חָכְמָ֣ה וְלֶב־אָֽיִן:
Why is there a price in the fool’s hand to buy wisdom: To learn the Torah.  
when the heart is not here: In his heart, he has no intention of fulfilling it, and he learns only to gain a reputation.  
17At all times, love a friend, for he is born a brother for adversity.   יזבְּכָל־עֵ֖ת אֹהֵ֣ב הָרֵ֑עַ וְאָ֥ח לְ֜צָרָ֗ה יִוָּלֵֽד:
At all times, love a friend: You should always love friends, i.e., to acquire people who love you.  
for he is born a brother for adversity: At the time of adversity, the friend will be born to you as a brother, to help you and to participate in your adversity.  
18A person without sense clasps hands; he becomes surety before his neighbor.   יחאָדָ֣ם חֲסַר־לֵ֖ב תּוֹקֵ֣עַ כָּ֑ף עֹרֵ֥ב עֲ֜רֻבָּ֗ה לִפְנֵ֥י רֵעֵֽהוּ:
A person without sense clasps hands: [This refers to] surety of money. Another explanation: He clasps with the wicked to go in their ways, while he is already a guarantor for his friend. He already accepted surety for the Holy One, blessed be He, to keep His commandments.  
19He who delights in transgression delights in quarrels; he who speaks haughtily seeks disaster.   יטאֹ֣הֵֽב פֶּ֖שַׁע אֹהֵ֣ב מַצָּ֑ה מַגְבִּ֥יהַּ פִּ֜תְח֗וֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ־שָֽׁבֶר:
He who delights in transgression: to sin against his friend.  
delights in quarrels: To quarrel and strive.  
he who speaks haughtily: lit. he who raises his opening, speaks with haughtiness, as in (Micah 7:5) “guard the openings of your mouth.”  
20He who is of a perverse heart will find no good, and he who has a hypocritical tongue will fall into evil.   כעִקֶּשׁ־לֵ֖ב לֹ֣א יִמְצָא־ט֑וֹב וְנֶהְפָּ֥ךְ בִּ֜לְשׁוֹנ֗וֹ יִפּ֥וֹל בְּרָעָֽה:
21He who begets a fool, does so to his sorrow; neither will the father of a vile man rejoice.   כאיֹלֵ֣ד כְּ֖סִיל לְת֣וּגָה ל֑וֹ וְלֹֽא־יִ֜שְׂמַ֗ח אֲבִ֣י נָבָֽל:
22A happy heart enhances one's brilliance, and a broken spirit dries the bones.   כבלֵ֣ב שָׂ֖מֵחַ יֵיטִ֣ב גֵּהָ֑ה וְר֥וּחַ נְ֜כֵאָ֗ה תְּיַבֶּשׁ־גָּֽרֶם:
A happy heart enhances one’s brilliance: Heb. גהה. When a person is satisfied with his lot, his countenance shines.  
23He will take a bribe from a wicked man's bosom, to pervert the roads of justice.   כגשֹׁ֣חַד מֵ֖חֵיק רָשָׁ֣ע יִקָּ֑ח לְ֜הַטּ֗וֹת אַרְח֥וֹת מִשְׁפָּֽט:
He will take a bribe from a wicked man’s bosom: The Holy One, blessed be He, accepts words of humility and appeasement from the bosom of the wicked; i.e., in secret, between Him and them.  
to pervert the roads of justice: To overturn his verdict from evil to good.  
24Wisdom is directly in front of an understanding man, but the eyes of a fool are at the end of the earth.   כדאֶת־פְּנֵ֣י מֵבִ֣ין חָכְמָ֑ה וְעֵינֵ֥י כְ֜סִ֗יל בִּקְצֵה־אָֽרֶץ:
Wisdom is directly in front of an understanding man: The wisdom is directly in front of an understanding man.  
but the eyes of a fool are at the end of the earth: saying, “Wisdom is inaccessible to me [lit. The wisdom is not found before me] because it is far from me. How will I be able to learn the Order Nezikin, which consists of thirty chapters; Tractate Kelim, consisting of thirty chapters; Tractate Shabbath, consisting of twenty-four chapters?” But, for the wise man, it is an easy matter: “Today I learn two chapters and tomorrow two chapters.” And he says, “This is what those who preceded me from time immemorial did.”  
25A foolish son causes anger to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.   כהכַּ֣עַס לְ֖אָבִיו בֵּ֣ן כְּסִ֑יל וּ֜מֶ֗מֶר לְיוֹלַדְתּֽוֹ:
A foolish son causes anger to his father: [A foolish son] like Jeroboam causes anger to the Holy One, blessed be He.  
and bitterness to her who bore him: To the people of Israel, whom he caused to sin.  
26To punish also the righteous man is not good-to strike the generous who possess uprightness.   כוגַּ֤ם עֲנ֣וֹשׁ לַצַּדִּ֣יק לֹא־ט֑וֹב לְהַכּ֖וֹת נְדִיבִ֣ים עַל־יֽשֶׁר:
To punish also the righteous man is not good: The Holy One, blessed be He, did not decide to obliterate the name of Israel from upon the earth, as it was not good in his sight to punish all of them.  
to strike the generous who possess uprightness: To strike the good people among them, who were generous and possessing uprightness, as it is said (I Kings 19: 18): “And I will leave over in Israel seven thousand-all the knees that did not kneel to the Baal.”  
the generous who possess uprightness: Heb. נדיבים עלי ישר, an analogy of what is stated elsewhere (Isa. 32:8): “But the generous person plans generous deeds, and he, because of generous deeds, shall stand.” We find “a generous man because of generous deeds.”  
27He who has knowledge keeps back his words; he whose breath is dear is a man of understanding.   כזחוֹשֵֹ֣ךְ אֲ֖מָרָיו יוֹדֵ֣עַ דָּ֑עַת וְקַר יְקַר־ר֜֗וּחַ אִ֣ישׁ תְּבוּנָֽה:
keeps back his words: He who has knowledge does not talk excessively.  
he whose breath is dear: (Whose words are dear; Salonica ed.) He who keeps back his words is a man of understanding.  
28He who silences even a fool is considered a wise man; one who shuts his lips, a man of understanding.   כחגַּ֤ם אֱוִ֣יל מַ֖חֲרִישׁ חָכָ֣ם יֵחָשֵׁ֑ב אֹטֵ֖ם שְׂפָתָ֣יו נָבֽוֹן: