Jewish proverbs

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Jewish proverbs are short expressions of popular wisdom in Jewish culture.


  • .נפלה האבן על הקדרה, אוי לקדרה. נפלה הקדרה על האבן, אוי לקדרה
    • The stone fell on the pitcher? Woe to the pitcher. The pitcher fell on the stone? Woe to the pitcher.
    • Esther Rabbah 7:10, quoted in Lewis Browne: The Wisdom of Israel, an Anthology [1]
  • בכל החזיתות שאנו מטילים על אחרים אנחנו מדגימים את הפוטנציאל שלנו, דרך הילדים שלנו אנחנו מגלים את המציאות שלנו. - לורנס קלמן, כדי ללבות עמ 'נשמה
    • In the facades we put on for others we demonstrate our potential; through our children we reveal our reality.
    • Lawrence Kelemen, To Kindle A Soul, p. 195
  • When a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
    • Quoted in Forbes Magazine vol.146 (1990), p.182 as a Yiddish proverb. (It was also used in Fiddler on the Roof.)
  • If you steal from a thief, you also have a taste of it.
    • Just because someone steals, you have no right to rob them.
    • Talmud Bavli, Berakoth, 5b

Ethics of the Fathers[edit]

  • Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh said: Be exceedingly humble in spirit, for the hope of earthly man is but decay.
  • Let your home be a meeting place for the wise; dust yourself in the soil of their feet, and drink thirstily of their words. -Yossei ben Yoezer
  • Love work, loath mastery over others, and avoid intimacy with the government. -Shmaayah

• I am who I am.

  • Who is wise? He who learns from all men -Ben Zoma
  • על דאטפת אטפוך וסוף מטיפייך - יטופון (Mishnah Avot 2,7)
    • 'Al d'ateft atfu'kh, v'sof m'tifaikh ytufun
    • Translation: Because you have drowned others, you were drowned — and in the end, those who drowned you will be drowned.
    • Meaning: Sins shall be punished, but people are not allowed to take the law into their own hands.
    • שפירא (1998). ספר המאור שבתורה. ש.צ. בן ב. הכהן שפירא. 

"Ancient Jewish Proverbs", Abraham Cohen, 1980[edit]

  • Youth is a crown of roses, old age a crown of willows.
    • Youth is a light burden, old age a heavy one.
    • Talmud Bavli, Shabbat, 152a
  • In old men there is no taste, in young no insight.
    • The old lack enthusiasm, the young lack shrewdness.
    • Talmud Bavli, Shabbat, 89b
  • I do not want a shoe larger than my foot.
    • I do not want a husband of higher rank than my own.
    • Talmud Bavli, Kiddushin, 49a

"Dictionary of 1000 Jewish Proverbs", David C. Gross, 1997[edit]

  • Don't boast of tomorrow, for you know not what a day will bring.
  • Whoever seeks cake loses his bread.
  • Whoever argues for the sake of argument is a boor.
  • Any home not built for hot days or rains is not a home.


See also[edit]