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1. The Sages studied in the language of the Mishna; blessed be He who made choice of them and their learning. R. Meier said, "he who is engaged in the study of the law for its own sake merits many things, and not only so, but the whole world is under the greatest obligation to him; he is called a dear friend, dear to God and dear to mankind; he rejoices God and rejoices His creatures. It clothes him with meekness and the fear of God, and directs him to become just, pious, righteous, and faithful; it removes him from sin, and brings him near to merit, and the world is benefited by his counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, and strength; as is said, "Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength." 2 It also bestows on him empire, dominion, and perception in judgment. It reveals the secrets of the law to him, and he shall be an increasing fountain, and a never-failing river; and it will cause him to

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be modest, slow to anger, and ready to pardon an injury done to him; and it will magnify and exalt him above all things."

2. R. Joshua, son of Levi, said, "every day a Divine voice (bath kol) proceeds from Mount Horeb, which proclaims and says, 'Woe be to those who contemn the law; for whoever is not engaged in the study of the law maybe considered as excommunicate;' for it is said, 'as a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion;' 1 and it is said, 'And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.' 2 Read not graven but freedom; for who are counted free but those engaged in the study of the law; and whoever is engaged in the study of the law is exalted; as it is said, 'And from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth.'" 3

3. He who learns from his companion one chapter, sentence, verse, or expression, ought to behave towards him with respect; for thus we find by David, King of Israel, who having learned only two things from Ahitophel, called him his teacher, guide, and acquaintance, as is said, "But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance." 4 Hence it may be deduced that if David, King of Israel, who having learned only two things from Ahitophel, called him his "teacher, guide, and acquaintance," how much more ought he who learns from his companion a single chapter, sentence, verse, or expression, to show him the utmost respect? And there is no glory but the knowledge of the law; as is said, "The wise shall inherit glory;" 5 and the perfect shall inherit the good; but nothing is really good but the law, as is said, "For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law." 6

4. Thus is the law to be observed: Thou shalt eat bread and salt, and water by measure shalt thou drink; on the earth shalt thou sleep, and a life of trouble shalt thou live; and thou shalt labour in the study of the law. If thou doest thus, thou shalt be happy, and it shall be well with

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thee; thou shalt be happy in this world, and it shall be well with thee in the world to come.

5. Seek not grandeur for thyself, neither covet more honour than thy learning merits. Crave not after the tables of kings; for thy table is greater than their table, and thy crown is greater than their crown; and the Master who employs thee is faithful to pay thee the reward of thy labour.

6. The law is more excellent than the priesthood and royalty; for royalty is acquired by thirty properties, and the priesthood by twenty-four; but the law is acquired by forty-eight things, and these are they,—with study, attention, eloquence; an understanding heart, an intelligent heart; with dread and meekness, fear and joy; with attendance on the Sages, the acuteness of companions, and disputations of the disciples; with sedateness, the study of the Bible, and the Mishna; in purity, in taking little sleep, in using little discourse, in being little engaged in traffic, in taking little sport, in enjoying little delight and little worldly manners; in being slow to anger, in having a good heart, in having faith in the Sages, and in bearing chastisements; in being sensible of his situation, and rejoicing in his portion; in being circumspect in his language, in not pretending to preeminence, in sincerely loving God, and loving His creatures; in loving admonition, and that which is right; in avoiding honour, and in not priding himself on his acquired knowledge; not rejoicing in pronouncing sentence, in bearing the burden equally with his companion, and inclining him to merit, and confirming him in the truth and in peace; is sedate in his study, inquires according to the subject, and answers according to the constitution; is attentive to study, and extends it; learns it with a view to the teaching of others, and also with a view to perform the precepts; increases his teacher's knowledge, and is attentive to his instruction, and reports everything in the name of the person who said it; hence it is inferred that whoever reports anything in the name of the person who said it, procures redemption for the world, as is said, "And Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name." 1

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7. Great is the law, which bestows life on the doers of it, both in this world and in the world to come; as is said, "For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh." 1 And it is said, "It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." 2 And it is said, "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her." 3 And it is said, "For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." 4 And it is said, "She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee." 5 And it is said, "Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour." 6 And it is said, "For length of days and long life, and peace shall they add to thee." 7

8. Rabbi Simeon, son of Judah, in the name of Rabbi Simeon, son of Jochai, said, “beauty, strength, riches, honour, wisdom, age, hoariness, and many children, are suitable for the righteous, and suitable for the world; as is said, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” 8 And it is said, "Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children are their fathers." 9 And it is said, "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his ancients gloriously." 10

9. Rabbi Simeon, son of Manasya, said, "those seven qualities which the Sages counted as proper for the righteous, were all established in the Rabbi (Judah) and his children." Rabbi José, son of Kishma, said, “I was once travelling along the road and met a certain person, who saluted me with peace, and I returned his salutation. He then said to me, "Rabbi, whence art thou?" I answered him, "from a great city abounding in sages and scribes:" said he to me, "if thou be willing to dwell with us in our city, then will I give thee a thousand thousand golden dinars, and precious stones and

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pearls." To this I answered, "if thou wouldest give me all the silver and gold, and precious stones and pearls in the world, I would only dwell in a place where the law is studied; because at the time of man's departure from this world he is not accompanied either with silver and gold, and precious stones and pearls, but with the law and good deeds alone, as is said, 'When thou goest it shall lead thee: when thou sleepest it shall keep thee: and when thou awakest it shall talk with thee.'" 1 "When thou goest it shall lead thee," that is in this world. "When thou sleepest it shall keep thee," in the grave; "and when thou awakest it shall talk with thee," in the world to come. And thus it is written in the book of Psalms by the hand of David, king of Israel, "The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver." 2 And it is said, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts." 3

10. Five possessions hath the Holy One, blessed be He, obtained in this world, and these are they,—the law is one possession; heaven and earth another; Abraham another; Israel another; and the holy Temple another. Now whence is it to be proved that the law is one possession? Because it is written, "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old." 4 And whence is it proved that heaven and earth is another possession? Because it is said, "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" 5 And it is said, "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches." 6 Whence is it proved that Abraham is one possession? Because it is written, "And he blessed him, and said blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth." 7 Whence is it proved that Israel is one possession? Because it is written, "Till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased." 8 And it is said, "But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the

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excellent, in whom is all my delight." 1 Whence can it be proved that the holy temple is one possession? Because it is said, "The sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established." 2 And it is said, "And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain which his right hand hath purchased." 3 Everything which God created, he created but for his glory; as is said, "Every one that is called by my name; for I have created . him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." 4 And the Lord will reign for ever and ever. R. Chanina, son of Akasea, said, "the Holy One, Blessed be He, wished to purify Israel, wherefore He magnified for them the Law and the Commandments, as is said, "The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law and make it honourable." 5


236:2 Prov. viii. 14.

237:1 Prov. xi. 22.

237:2 Ex. xxxii. 16.

237:3 Num. xxi. 19.

237:4 Ps. lv. 13.

237:5 Prov. iii. 35.

237:6 Prov. iv. 2.

238:1 Esther ii. 22.

239:1 Prov. iv. 22.

239:2 Prov. iii. 8.

239:3 Prov. iii. 18.

239:4 Prov. i. 9.

239:5 Prov. iv. 9.

239:6 Prov. iii. 16.

239:7 Prov. iii. 2.

239:8 Prov. xvi. 31.

239:9 Prov. xvii. 6.

239:10 Isaiah xxiv. 23.

240:1 Prov. vi. 22.

240:2 Ps. cxix. 72.

240:3 Hag. ii. 8.

240:4 Prov. viii. 22.

240:5 Isaiah lxvi. 1.

240:6 Ps. civ. 24.

240:7 Gen. xiv. 19.

240:8 Exod. xv. 16.

241:1 Ps. xvi. 3.

241:2 Exod. xv. 17.

241:3 Ps. lxxviii. 54.

241:4 Is. xliii. 7.

241:5 Is. xlii. 21.

Next: Chapter I