Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Mishnah or The Mishnah NULL

Means "Teaching by Repetition" Post-Biblical Collection of Jewish Oral Laws. The Mishna is divided into six* books and 63 treatises, the division being according to the main body of the subject matter, digressions being freely allowed. It was redacted 220 CE by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi when, according to the Talmud, the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the possibility that the details of the oral traditions dating from Pharisaic times (536 BCE – 70 CE) would be forgotten. It is thus named for being both the one written authority (codex) secondary (only) to the Tanakh as a basis for the passing of judgment, a source and a tool for creating laws, and the first of many books to complement the Bible in a certain aspect.

"It is the same whether a man offers much or little, provided his heart is directed to Heaven."

"Man is always responsible, whether his act is intentional or inadvertent, whether he is awake or asleep."

"Seven characteristics distinguish the wise: he does not speak before his superior, does not interrupt, is only hasty to answer, asks and answers to the point, talks about first things first and about last things last, admits when he does not know, and acknowledges the truth."

"By three things is the world preserved: by truth, by judgment, and by peace… The three are really one; if judgment is executed, truth is vindicated and peace results."

"Greater is he who performs the commandments from love than he who performs them from fear."

"He who studies the Torah in order to learn and to do God’s will acquire many merits; and not only that, but the whole world is indebted to him. He is cherished as a friend, a lover of God and of his fellow man."

"Hillel said: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man; that is the essence of the Torah, the rest is commentary: go and learn."

"Man was first created a single individual to teach the lesson that whoever destroys one life, Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had destroyed a whole world; and whoever saves one life, Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had saved a whole world."

"There are seven marks of a wise man. The wise man does not speak before him who is greater than he in wisdom; and does not break in upon the speech of his fellow; he is not hasty to answer; he questions according to the subject matter; and answers to the point; he speaks upon the first thing first, and the last; regarding that which he has not understood he says, I do not understand it, and he acknowledges the truth."

"He in whom the fear of sin predominates over his wisdom, his wisdom endures, but he whose wisdom predominates over his fear of sin, his wisdom does not endure."

"Say not, when I have leisure I will study; you may not have leisure."

"The Mishna is 'the fundamental document of the oral law of the Jews."

"When the Anointed for Battle speaks unto the people he speaks in the Holy Language, for it is written, And it shall be when ye draw nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach (this is the priest anointed for the battle) and shall speak unto the people (in the Holy Language), and shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye draw nigh unto battle this day against your enemies--and not against your brethren, not Judah against Simeon, and not Simeon against Benjamin, for if ye fall into their hands they will have mercy upon you, for it is written, And the men which have been expressed by name rose up and took the captives and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them and shod them and gave them to eat and to drink and anointed them and carried all the feeble of them upon asses and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto their brethren: then they returned to Samaria. Against your enemies do ye go, therefore if ye fall into their hands they will not have mercy upon you. Let not your heart be faint, fear not nor tremble, neither be ye affrighted . . . Let not your heart be faint at the neighing of the horses and the flashing of the swords; fear not at the clashing of shields and the rushing of the tramping shoes; nor tremble at the sound of the trumpets, neither be ye affrighted at the sound of the shouting; for the Lord your God is he that goeth with you. They come in the strength of flesh and blood, but ye come in the strength of the Almighty. The Philistines came in the strength of Goliath. What was his end? In the end he fell by the sword and they fell with him. The children of Ammon came in the strength of Shobach.4 What was his end? In the end he fell by the sword and they fell with him. But not so are ye, for the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you . . . This is the Camp of the Ark."

"The more [study of] the Law, the more life; the more schooling, the more wisdom; the more counsel, the more understanding; the more charity, the more peace."

"The Day of Atonement atones for sins against God, not for sins against man, unless the injured man has been appeased."

"The wise is not hasty to answer."

"The world was created for my sake!"

"There are four types of students: the sponge, who absorbs all; the funnel, who lets in at one end and out at the other; the strainer, who lets out the wine and retains the dregs; and the sieve, who lets out the coarse and keeps the fine flour."

"Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world."

"Rabbi Akiva: ?Everything is foreseen, yet free will is granted; By goodness is the universe judged, yet all depends on the preponderance of (good) deeds?.?"

"Ben Zoma said, ?Who is wise? The one who learns from all people? ?Who is mighty? The one who subdues the evil inclination? ?Who is rich? The who who rejoices in his portion? ?Who is honored? The one who honors other human beings.?"

"He (Rabbi Tarfon) also used to say, ?It is not your obligation to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it entirely.?"

"Hillel used to say: ?If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when??"

"Rabban Simeon, son of Gamliel, said, ?On three things the world stands: On Judgment, on Truth, and on Peace.?"

"Rabbi (Meir) said, ?Look not at the flask but at what is therein; There may be a new flask full of old wine, And an old flask wherein is not even new wine.?"

"Rabbi Jacob used to say, ?Better is one hour of t?shuvah (returning/repentance) and good deeds in this world than the whole life of the world-to-come and better is one hour of spiritual bliss in the world-to-come than all the the life of this world!?"

"Rabbi Yose said: ?Let your friend?s property be as precious to you as your own; Give yourself to studying the Torah, for it does not come to you by inheritance; and let all your deeds be done in the name of Heaven.?"

"Simeon, the son of Rabban Gamliel, said: ?I was brought up all my life among the Sages, and I have found nothing as good for the body as silence, and it is not the study/explication that is the essence ? but the practice/doing, and whoever is profuse of words occasions sin.?"

"Simon the Just?used to say, ?Upon three things the world stands: On Torah, on (Divine) Service, and on Deeds of Lovingkindness.?"

"Teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot."

"What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary to this law; go and learn it."

"Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."