Hashkofa: Torah Views,
Values & Understanding Life
A Life of Wisdom




Everybody wants to live a wise and successful life. Often, people are at a loss how to proceed through life, its situations or trials, effectively.

This section takes from over a hundred Torah sources which tell us aspects of wisdom - what to do and what not to do - to live a more successful life.



* The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the teachings of Hashem are trustworthy, making wise the simple [Psalm 19:8].

* The beginning of wisdom is fear of G-d, those who do His commandments have good understanding, his praise endures forever [Psalm 111:10].

* Don't be wise in your own eyes, fear Hashem and depart from evil [Proverbs 3:7].

* Happy is the man who found wisdom, and a man who obtains understanding [Proverbs 3:13].

* The wise will inherit honor [Proverbs 3:35].

* Don't give correction to a scoffer, perhaps he will hate you; correct the wise person and he will love you [Proverbs 9:8].

* Give wisdom to a wise one and he will become wiser [Proverbs 9:9].

* The wise-hearted will take each opportunity to do a mitzva [Proverbs 10:8].

* The tongue of the wise heals [Proverbs 12:18].

* The wisdom of women built her house [Proverbs 14:1].

* All who stray with wine will not grow wise [Proverbs 20:1]

* With the punishment of the scorner, the fool becomes wise; and when the wise person is instructed, he gains knowledge [Proverbs 21:11].

* A wise person has his eyes in his head [Ecclesiastes 2:14].

* The words of the wise are heard with gentleness [Ecclesiastes 9:17].

* The purpose of wisdom is tshuva (repentance) and good deeds that a person should not learn written and oral Torah and be an ingrate to his father and his mother and his rabbi and anyone who is greater than him in wisdom [Brachos 17a].

* Since knowing the separation between shabos and weekday is a matter of wisdom, its blessing is fixed into the blessing for wisdom [Brachos 33a].

* Come and see that the trait of the Holy One, blessed be He, is not like the trait of flesh and blood. The trait of flesh and blood is that an empty container receives contents, a full container does not receive [additional] contents. The Holy One, blessed be He, is not thus. A full container receives contents, and empty one does not receive contents [Brachos 40a]. Rashi: a full container means a person of wisdom. This means to say that a wise person is given more wisdom from Hashem, an empty person does not receive wisdom.

* The Holy One, blessed be He, does not give wisdom except to he in whom there is wisdom [Brachos 55a].

* Let the one who wishes to grow wise engage in monetary judgements for you have no greater undertaking in the Torah than this, for they are like a fountain that keeps springing [Brachos 63b]. Rashi: these are profound.

* The wise increase peace in the world [Brachos 64a].

* At the time when Solomon legislated eruvin and netilas yadayim, a voice came out of Heaven and said, "my son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice in Me [Proverbs 23:15]" and "My son be wise, make My heart rejoice and able to reply to those who disgrace Me [Proverbs 27:11]" [Shabos 14b].

* Whoever is a braggart, if he is a wise person, his wisdom departs from him...Raish Lakish said that when a man is angry, if he is wise his wisdom leaves him, if he is a prophet he loses his prophesy [Pesachim 66b].

* The wise men of Israel say that the celestial sphere is stationary and the constellations revolve and the philosophers of the nations of the world say that the celestial sphere revolves and the constellations revolve [Pesachim 94b].

* Silence is excellent for wise people; how much moreso for imbeciles [Pesachim 99a].

* Anyone who is not the same in the inner person and the outer person is not truly wise [Yoma 72b].

* We must not speak about intimate subjects when there are present three people, about the mystery of Creation with two people and about kabala with even one unless that one is wise and can understand by himself [Chagiga 11b].

* The wise person is a disciple who makes his rabbis wiser, this understanding person understands a thing from another thing [Chagiga 14a].

* If a bribe: blinds the eyes of a wise person, how much moreso for an imbecile; perverts the words of the righteous, how much moreso the wicked...even a very wise person who takes a bribe will not leave this world without the dulling of his mind [Kesuvos 105a].

* Even though you be a great sage, there is no comparing a person who learns by himself to a person who learns from his rabbi [Kesuvos 111a].

* The verse, "He by his wisdom saved the city" [Ecclesiastes 9:14] refers to tshuva (repentance) and good deeds [saving a person from heavenly punishment] [Nedarim 32b].

* Hashem does not give prophesy except to one who is strong, wealthy, wise and humble [Nedarim 38a].

* This [verse's meaning] "Who is the wise man who can understand" [Jeremia 9:11] was asked of the wise men and prophets and they could not explain it until the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself explained it...[the first Holy Temple was destroyed because] they did not make a blessing on the Torah before learning [Nedarim 81a].

* Words of Torah are not actualized except in one who makes himself as nothing, as it says [Iyov 28:12], "Where shall wisdom be found?" [Sota 21b].

* While a wise person is at the beginning of a thing, he [already] knows what is its end [Yerushalmi Sota 5].

* Ten measures of wisdom were given to the earth and the land of Israel took nine [Kidushin 49b].

* The rabbi who taught one wisdom brings him to eternal life [Bava Metzia 30a].

* If a jar has one pebble in it and is shaken, it makes a disturbingly loud noise; if a jar is full with pebbles and is packed it makes no noise [Bava Metzia 85b]. Rashi: this is a metaphor for wisdom (when a wise person is "shaken," he responds with calm and substance quietly; when an empty person is "shaken," he responds with disturbingly loud noise and not with substance].

* Morning bread makes the simpleton more wise [Bava Metzia 107b].

* All who habitually give charity merit having children with wisdom [Bava Basra 9b].

* A wise person is greater than a prophet [Bava Basra 12a].

* The one who wishes to grow wise shall face [partially southward when he prays [and he will not need to pray to grow wealthy] since from becoming wise he can grow wealthy [Bava Basra 25b].

* All who have a sick person in his house shall go to a wise person and request of him a prayer for mercy [Bava Basra 116a].

* The air in the land of Israel makes one wise [Bava Basra 158b].

* The Holy One, blessed be He, created the entire universe with wisdom [Sanhedrin 38a].

* An understanding person is one who can discern one thing from another thing [Sanhedrin 83b].

* It is good for me to be called "idiot" all of my days and not to become evil before G-d for even one moment [Aiduyos 5:6].

* A wise man is only jealous of [another] wise man [Avoda Zora 55a].

* Who is so wise to have done such a thing, if not Rabbi Akiva, since he is a great man! [Avoda Zora 76b].

* Your home should be a meeting house for wise men [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers chapter one].

* Wise people, be careful with your words, perhaps someone will learn from them how to lie [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter one].

* All my life I was raised among wise men and I have not found anything better for a person than silence...study is not the essential thing but rather action is...and all who speak more than necessary bring sin [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter one].

* The more that one is involved in business, the more that he will not grow wise [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter two].

* The more Torah, the more life; the more one sits in Torah learning, the more one will grow wise; the more counsel, the more understanding [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter two].

* Warm yourself in front of the light of the sages but beware of their burning coals that you not be burned, for their bite is like the bite of a fox and their sting is like the sting of a scorpion and all of their words are like fiery coals [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter two].

* All whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; and all whose wisdom precedes his fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure; all whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; and all whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom will not endure [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter three].

* A protection for wisdom is prudent silence [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter three].

* Where there is no wisdom, there is no fear of G-d; where there is no fear of G-d, there is no wisdom [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter three].

* All whose wisdom exceeds his deeds is comparable to a tree whose branches are many and whose roots are few and if a wind comes, it will uproot him and throw him over on his face; all whose deeds exceed his wisdom is comparable to a tree whose branches are few and whose roots are many so that even if all the winds of the world come and blow on it, it doesn't move at all from its place and it will never cease to bear fruit [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter three].

* Who is wise? One who learns from everybody [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter four].

* Do not rely on your own understanding [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter four].

* There are seven signs that a person is an imbecile and signs that a person is wise. The wise person does not speak in front of one who is bigger than him in wisdom and experience, and he does not interrupt the words of another, and he is not quick to answer, and he asks in accordance with the subject and answers according to what is required, and he speaks on the first thing first and on the last thing last, and on what he does not know he says he doesn't know, and he acknowledges the truth. The opposite of these is in the imbecile [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter five].

* Go over and over the Torah because everything is in it and through it you will see [Pirkei Avos/Ethics Of The Fathers, chapter five].

* Who is wise? The one who foresees the outcome [e.g. of present actions or decisions; Tamid 32b].

* That which a sage declared to be defiled or forbidden another sage may not declare to be pure or permissible [Nida 20b].

* The Holy One, blessed be He, gave extra understanding to a woman more than to a man [Nida 48b].

* What should a man do that he become wise? Engage in much learning and little business...pray for mercy from He to whom wisdom belongs [Nida 70b].

* You are great in wisdom when you fulfill the words of the sages [Negayim 9:3].

* There is no wisdom like the wisdom in the land of Israel, there is no Torah like the Torah in the land of Israel [Beraishis Raba 16].

* No tradesman loves his colleague, but the wise man loves his colleague [Beraishis Raba 32].

* Do not be a wise person in your own eyes regarding what you see with your own eyes [Beraishis Raba 44].

* The wise of heart were Avraham and Moshe [Beraishis Raba 52].

* When a wise person engages in too many things, they confuse him from his wisdom [Shmos Raba 11].

* Great is wisdom, and greater than it are understanding and knowledge for practical application [Shmos Raba 41].

* If one merits wisdom, it is as if one has merited every gift in the world. Two [evil] wise men arose in the world. One was from Israel and one was from the gentile nations. Achisofel was from Israel and Billam was from the gentile nations [Bamidbar Raba 22].

* "It is good to be rebuked by a wise person" [Ecclesiastes 7:5], particularly the Torah teachers [Kohelless Raba 2].

* If any man will say to you that there is wisdom among the gentiles, believe him. If he will say that there is Torah among the gentiles, do not believe him [Eicha Raba 2].

* The imbecile speaks out all his words at once, and the wise person speaks his word at the end [Tanchuma Va'era 2].

* A noble woman asked, "Why is wisdom given to the wise? It should be to the fools!" If the Holy One, blessed be He were to give wisdom to the idiots, they would sit in dirty places and not engage in wisdom. Instead, the Holy One, blessed be He, gave wisdom to the sages that would sit in the shuls and yeshivos and engage in wisdom [Tanchuma Vayakhail 6].

* Perhaps you will say, "I learned the wisdom of Israel, now I will learn the wisdom of the gentiles." For that the Torah says, "You must go [in the Torah's ways]" [Toras Kohanim, Acharay Mos 18].

* If a wise person does not recognize Who created him, he can't be a wise person. Even among the wicked there are wise people. There are people with wisdom to build nations and cities, and who build tools of food manufacture and war and to conquer the sea. But they never had the wisdom to say, "Who created this sea?" They are wise to all things, but to the one main thing, they are idiots [Midrash Rebbe Meir HaDarshan, Toldos 26].

* Who is wise? The one who fulfills what he learns [Sifri, Devorim 13].

* The wise person who sits and teaches in public is considered by the Torah as if he brought sacrifices on the altar [Avos DeRebi Noson 4].

* What is one who is wise and who fears sin? He is a craftsman in whose hand is the tool of his trade [Avos deRebi Noson 22].

* There is no wisdom as great as the wisdom of derech eretz [civil, thoughtful and polite behavior; Avos DeRebi Noson 28].

* All who have no knowledge of halacha have not tasted the taste of wisdom [Avos DeRebi Noson 29].

* Three things are equal to one another: wisdom, fear of sin and humility [Derech Eretz Raba 5].

* The glory of Torah is wisdom, the glory of wisdom is humility [Derech Eretz Zuta 5].

* If there is no wisdom and no fear of G-d, the person is totally evil; of there is both wisdom and fear of G-d, the person is totally righteous [Derech Eretz Zuta 10].

* One who has wisdom and does not have understanding is comparable to one who has bread but no portion of food to eat it with. One who has understanding and does not have wisdom is comparable to one who has a portion of food but who does not have bread. The bread is wisdom and the food is understanding [Midrash Shochar Tov, Tehillim 119].

* There is no real joy except the joy of wisdom...if there is wisdom in a person, this person studies mussar [self-perfection studies]. If the person has no wisdom in him, he is not able to learn mussar [Yalkut Mishlay 909].

* All wisdom only enters to the heart, however the heart is not filled and also the personality will not be full [Yalkut Kohelless 967].

* All the time that a truly wise person is alive, his wisdom is fulfilled [Yalkut Iyov 906].

* The pinnacle of the Torah is wisdom and the pinnacle of wisdom is humility [Tana DeBay Eliyahu].

* Why did Yisro merit a life without pain? Because he behaved with wisdom for the sake of Heaven [Tana DeBay Eliyahu Raba 5].

* A person should always conduct himself as one wise in Torah and one clever in good deeds [Tana DeBay Eliyahu Raba 13].

* The strict person loses his wisdom [Pirkei DeRebi Eliezer 46].

* Starting in the sixth century of the sixth thousand [year 5,600; towards the end of 1839] the gates of wisdom will open above and the fountains of wisdom below [Zohar Beraishis 117].

* If there is no wisdom there is no just law [Zohar Beraishis 266].

* One without wisdom cannot be pious [Zohar Vayikra 33].

* There is no Torah without wisdom and no wisdom without Torah, and all is on one level [Zohar Vayikra 91].

* Who is wise? The one who understands one thing from another thing [Zohar Bamidbar 121].

* There is no wisdom which originates from a human being [Zohar Bamidbar 131].

* Any word said in haste cannot have perfect wisdom [Zohar Devorim 297].

* There is no one as wise as one who went through hardship [Akaida 14, Meelee De'Avos 10].

* There is no wisdom better than practical effort [Bais HaMedrash 27].

* There is no wisdom in one who is angry [Mivchar 18].

* The wise person is able to make bad things into good things [Orchos Tzadikim].

* The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of all wisdom is to know there exists a first cause and He causes all existence [Rambam, Hilchos Yesoday HaTorah, chapter one].