Chapter 26

1Like snow in the summer and like rain at harvest, so is honor unbefitting for a fool.   אכַּשֶּׁ֤לֶג בַּקַּ֗יִץ וְכַמָּטָ֥ר בַּקָּצִ֑יר כֵּ֤ן לֹא־נָאוֶ֖ה לִכְסִ֣יל כָּבֽוֹד:
Like snow in the summer: when they spread the figs in the sun to dry them and to make fig cakes, as is stated (II Sam. 16:2): “the bread and the dried figs for the young men to eat.”  
2Like a wandering sparrow and like a flying swallow, so will a vain curse come home.   בכַּצִּפּ֣וֹר לָ֖נוּד כַּדְּר֣וֹר לָע֑וּף כֵּ֥ן קִֽלְלַ֥ת חִ֜נָּ֗ם לֹ֣א ל֣וֹ תָבֹֽא:
Like a wandering sparrow: that wanders and like a swallow that returns to its nest, so…  
will a vain curse come home: to the one who uttered it with his mouth.  
swallow Heb.: דרור. This is the bird known as arondele in Old French, [hirondelle in modern French, schwalbe in German,] which is called דרור, because it lives (דר) in a house as in a field.  
3A whip is for the horse, a bridle is for the donkey, and a rod is for the body of fools.   גשׁ֣וֹט לַ֖סּוּס מֶ֣תֶג לַחֲמ֑וֹר וְ֜שֵׁ֗בֶט לְגֵ֣ו כְּסִילִֽים:
A whip is for the horse: [It] is made for the horse, and also a rod is prepared for the body of fools. Tortures are prepared for the wicked.  
4Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest even you become like him.   דאַל־תַּ֣עַן כְּ֖סִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּ֑וֹ פֶּֽן־תִּשְׁוֶה־לּ֥וֹ גַם־אָֽתָּה:
Do not answer a fool: with words of quarrel and contention lest you become like him.  
5Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his sight.   העֲנֵ֣ה כְ֖סִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּ֑וֹ פֶּן־יִהְיֶ֖ה חָכָ֣ם בְּעֵינָֽיו:
Answer a fool: who comes to win you over to idolatry; let him know his folly.  
lest he be wise in his sight: The meaning of these two verses is explained in [the verses] themselves:  
Do not answer: in a matter in which you will become like him if you answer him.  
Answer a fool: in a matter in which he will be wise in his sight if you do not answer him.  
6He who sends a message by the hand of a fool wears out legs and "drinks violence."   ומְקַצֶּ֣ה רַ֖גְלַיִם חָמָ֣ס שֹׁתֶ֑ה שֹׁלֵ֖חַ דְּבָרִ֣ים בְּיַד־כְּסִֽיל:
wears out legs and “drinks violence”: He who sends a message by the hand of a fool wears out the legs of many messengers by repetitively sending [them] to rectify what the first one, whom he sent at the beginning, distorted. And he “drinks violence,” for his fellow is wroth with him for sending a fool.  
7The thighs seem raised to a lame man, and [that is] a parable in the mouth of fools.   זדַּלְי֣וּ שֹׁ֖קַיִם מִפִּסֵּ֑חַ וּ֜מָשָׁ֗ל בְּפִ֣י כְסִילִֽים:
thighs seem raised to a lame man: Heb. דליו, as in (Isa. 38:14): “My eyes were lifted (דלו).” Every man’s thighs appear to the lame to be higher than he. This phrase is a parable in the mouth of the fool, who says it in reference to the study of wisdom, “How can we come to study wisdom? It is hidden and raised up higher than I am. The parable states, ‘Thighs seem raised to a lame man.’”  
8He who gives honor to a fool is as binding a stone in a slingshot.   חכִּצְר֣וֹר אֶ֖בֶן בְּמַרְגֵּמָ֑ה כֵּן־נוֹתֵ֖ן לִכְסִ֣יל כָּבֽוֹד:
in a slingshot: Heb. במרגמה fronde in French, Schleuder in German, in which the stone tied will not remain, for it is destined to be thrown, so is it with one who gives honor to a fool-it is not permanent. And our Sages (Hullin 133a) explained it homiletically as referring to one who teaches Torah to an unfitting student, that he is tantamount to casting a stone into a merculis.  
9A thorn came up in a drunkard's hand and a parable in the mouth of fools.   טחוֹחַ עָלָ֣ה בְיַד־שִׁכּ֑וֹר וּ֜מָשָׁ֗ל בְּפִ֣י כְסִילִֽים:
A thorn came up in a drunkard’s hand: Just like a thorn that is stuck to a drunkard’s hand, so is the parable stated below stuck in the mouth of a fool to be for him as a thorn-yea, a painful thorn. Now what is the parable?…  
10The Master created all, and He hires a fool, and He hires transients.   ירַ֥ב מְחֽוֹלֵֽל־כֹּ֑ל וְשׂכֵ֥ר כְּ֜סִ֗יל וְשׂכֵ֥ר עֹבְרִֽים:
The Master created all: The Holy One, blessed be He, created all and sustains all, the fool like the wise man. We do not need any wisdom.  
and He hires a fool: Unlike a mortal, who hires only expert workers, and who hires only those engaged in his work, the Holy One, blessed be He, creates all and hires the fools and hires wayfarers, who are idle from all work. [According to] Midrash Aggadah, ושכר כסיל is from an expression of (Gen. 8: 2) “And the fountains of the deep were closed (ויסכרו) ,” and an expression of (Isa. 19:10) “who make dams (שכר).” The Holy One, blessed be He, closes up the constellation of Orion (כסיל), which serves in the summer from Tishri on, and from then on, He closes off all who traverse the sea from going into it until Passover. And in the words of Rabbi Moses, I saw: רב מחולל כל, A wealthy man has many activities, and if he hires a fool, it is as though he is hiring all wayfarers who witness the deterioration of the work, to instruct how to rectify it and how he should work. This is, however, an empty thing and has no connection here.  
11As a dog returns to his vomit, so does a fool repeat his folly.   יאכְּכֶלֶב שָׁ֣ב עַל־קֵא֑וֹ כְּ֜סִ֗יל שׁוֹנֶ֥ה בְאִוַּלְתּֽוֹ:
12If you see a man who is wise in his own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him.   יברָאִ֗יתָ אִ֖ישׁ חָכָ֣ם בְּעֵינָ֑יו תִּקְוָ֖ה לִכְסִ֣יל מִמֶּֽנּוּ:
13The lazy man says, "There is a middle-sized lion on the road, a mature lion is between the streets."   יגאָמַ֣ר עָ֖צֵל שַׁ֣חַל בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ אֲ֜רִ֗י בֵּ֣ין הָרְחֹבֽוֹת:
14As a door turns on its hinge so does a lazy man on his bed.   ידהַדֶּלֶת תִּסּ֣וֹב עַל־צִירָ֑הּ וְ֜עָצֵ֗ל עַל־מִטָּתֽוֹ:
15The lazy man buries his hand in the cauldron; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.   טוטָ֘מַ֤ן עָצֵ֣ל יָ֖דוֹ בַּצַּלָּ֑חַת נִ֜לְאָ֗ה לַֽהֲשִׁיבָ֥הּ אַל־פִּֽיו:
in the cauldron: He buries his hand in a hot cauldron because of the cold.  
16A lazy man in his own eyes is wiser than seven men who give advice.   טזחָכָ֣ם עָצֵ֣ל בְּעֵינָ֑יו מִ֜שִּׁבְעָ֗ה מְשִׁ֣יבֵי טָֽעַם:
who give advice: wise men.  
17A passerby who becomes embroiled in a quarrel that is not his is like one who grabs a dog by its ears.   יזמַחֲזִ֥יק בְּאָזְנֵי־כָ֑לֶב עֹבֵ֥ר מִ֜תְעַבֵּ֗ר עַל־רִ֥יב לֹּֽא־לֽוֹ:
one who grabs a dog by its ears: One who passes by and becomes embroiled in a quarrel that is not his is like one who grabs a dog by his ears, who causes him to bite him for no reason.  
18Like one who wearies himself shooting firebrands, arrows, and death,   יחכְּֽמִתְלַהְלֵהַּ הַיֹּרֶ֥ה זִקִּ֗ים חִצִּ֥ים וָמָֽוֶת:
Like one who wearies himself: Like one who wearies himself shooting sparks of fire, as in (Isa. 50:11): “and in the flames (ובזיקות) you have kindled”; from the expression דינור זיקוקים (Ber. 58b), flames of fire. Another explanation. זקים, frondeles in Old French, slings, from an expression of slingstones (Zech. 9:15), and so in the Talmud (Baba Mezia 94a) לן זיקתא פסוק, “slingers are assigned to us.” He shoots arrows and death.  
19so is a man who deceives his friend and says, "Am I not joking?"   יטכֵּֽן־אִ֖ישׁ רִמָּ֣ה אֶת־רֵעֵ֑הוּ וְ֜אָמַ֗ר הֲֽלֹא־מְשַׂחֵ֥ק אָֽנִי:
so is a man who deceives: He wins over and entices his friend from ways of life to ways of death, and when his friend realizes that he is misleading him, he says, “I am joking.”  
20Just as without wood, the fire goes out, so without a grumbler the quarrel quiets down.   כבְּאֶ֣פֶס עֵ֖צִים תִּכְבֶּה־אֵ֑שׁ וּבְאֵ֥ין נִ֜רְגָּ֗ן יִשְׁתֹּ֥ק מָדֽוֹן:
without wood: That is to say: These two things are analogous; just as without wood the fire goes out, so without a grumbler, who slanders and incites quarrelers, strife quiets down.  
21As charcoal is for coals and wood is for fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.   כאפֶּחָ֣ם לְ֖גֶחָלִים וְעֵצִ֣ים לְאֵ֑שׁ וְאִ֥ישׁ מִ֜דְוָנִ֗ים מִדְיָנִ֗ים לְחַרְחַר־רִֽיב:
As charcoal is for coals and wood is for fire: Charcoal on fire is capable of igniting dying embers, and wood is capable of kindling fire, and a quarrelsome man of kindling strife.  
22Words of a grumbler are as though waging battle, and they penetrate the innermost parts of the body.   כבדִּבְרֵ֣י נִ֖רְגָּן כְּמִֽתְלַהֲמִ֑ים וְ֜הֵ֗ם יָרְד֥וּ חַדְרֵי־בָֽטֶן:
as though waging battle: Heb. כמתלהמים, an expression of מתלחמים. Our Sages however, explained כמתלהמים, כמתלהם, like death to them. The words of the spies became their death.  
the innermost parts of the body: lit. they go down into the chambers of the stomach. This is the death of dropsy.  
23Burning lips and a wicked heart are like silver dross overlaid on earthenware.   כגכֶּ֣סֶף סִ֖יגִים מְצֻפֶּ֣ה עַל־חָ֑רֶשׂ שְׂפָתַ֖יִם דֹּלְקִ֣ים וְלֶב־רָֽע:
overlaid on earthenware: Like silver dross attached to the earthenware in which it is refined, making the utensil shine as though it were silver although it has no use, so are burning lips and wicked heart, which pursue people to entice them with smooth and hypocritical talk.  
and a wicked heart: They appear to be friends, but they are enemies.  
burning: Heb. דולקים, as in “you pursued (דלקת) me so hotly” (Gen. 31:36).  
24An enemy dissembles with his lips and within him he places deceit.   כדבִּשְׂפָתָו בִּשְׂפָתָיו יִנָּכֵ֣ר שׂוֹנֵ֑א וּ֜בְקִרְבּ֗וֹ יָשִׁ֥ית מִרְמָֽה:
An enemy dissembles: With his speech, an enemy dissembles, so that it is not recognizable that he is an enemy. ינכר, deconnoitre in French, [verkennen in German, and so did Redak write, that it is an expression of denial and making oneself strange, the opposite of recognition (הכרה)].  
25When he entreats with his voice, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.   כהכִּֽי־יְחַנֵּ֣ן ק֖וֹלוֹ אַל־תַּֽאֲמֶן־בּ֑וֹ כִּ֤י שֶׁ֖בַע תּוֹעֵב֣וֹת בְּלִבּֽוֹ:
26When the hatred is covered with darkness, his evil will be revealed in public.   כותִּכַּסֶּ֣ה שִׂ֖נְאָה בְּמַשָּׁא֑וֹן תִּגָּלֶ֖ה רָעָת֣וֹ בְקָהָֽל:
When the hatred is covered with darkness: If one performs his deed in the darkness and conceals with משאון, which is pitch darkness (שואת חשך) the thing that is hated by the Holy One, blessed be He, [then] ultimately the Holy One, blessed be He, will reveal his evil in public, so that they should recognize that he is wicked.  
27He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone-it will return to him.   כזכֹּֽרֶה־שַּׁ֖חַת בָּ֣הּ יִפֹּ֑ל וְגֹ֥לֵ֥ל אֶ֜בֶן אֵלָ֥יו תָּשֽׁוּב:
He who digs a pit: For example, Balaam, who persuaded Balak to cause Israel to sin and caused twenty-four thousand of them to fall. He came to Midian to demand his pay and was slain by Israel.  
and he who rolls: That is to say that whoever places a stumbling block will ultimately stumble on it.  
and he who rolls a stone: He rolls it from place to place so that people will stumble on it. The Aggadah (Tanhuma Buber, Vayera 28, see footnote 157) interprets it in reference to Abimelech, who slew his seventy brothers on one stone and his end was that he died by a stone, as it is said (Jud. 9:53): “And a certain woman cast a piece of an upper millstone upon Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.”  
28[He who has] a false tongue hates those crushed under him, and a smooth mouth effects rejection.   כחלְֽשׁוֹן־שֶׁ֖קֶר יִשְׂנָ֣א דַכָּ֑יו וּפֶ֥ה חָ֜לָ֗ק יַעֲשֶֹ֥ה מִדְחֶֽה:
hates those crushed under him: He who accepts slander hates those crushed under him, for Saul pursued David because of slander and slew Nob.  
and a smooth mouth: A mouth of flattery.  
effects rejection: It makes him rejected, for it rejects the one who accepts it from upon the Holy One, blessed be He.