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About 440 Jewish Proverbs

Here are selected proverbs of Jewish traditions. Some are modified for this text; they are marked with a 'Mod.' at the rear. It is common sense when digging up proverbs to preserve and focus on the best and discard menial teachings. That could be good for the heart - if we can find any good sayings to devote some time and attention to so as to harvest lots of outlooks.

Very old proverbs. Now, it is an old truth that peoples have proverbs in common with other peoples, that neighbouring countries share their apt wisdom sayings too. Many proverbs are this kind of cultural shareware. The proverbs in the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament are not excepted:

The book's superscription, "The proverbs of Solomon. . . ," is not to say that it as a whole or even individual proverbs should be credited to King Solomon, for scholarly examination discloses that it contains seven collections of wisdom materials (mostly short sayings) from a wide variety of periods, all after Solomon's time. . . .

The third collection (22:1724:22) has [a] close affinity to the Egyptian "Wisdom of Amenemope," variously dated between the 10th and 6th centuries BC. This likeness suggests that Israel's wisdom movement, whatever its origins, was influenced by the wisdom literature of other ancient Middle Eastern cultures. [EB, sv. "Proverbs, the"]

Glendon Bryce brings much detail about what went into such sweeping conclusions in his A Legacy of Wisdom: The Egyptian Contribution to the Wisdom of Israel. (1979). Hebrews drew on wisdom literature from long-established, neighbouring countries, and adapted and integrated much of it in their courts also.

Later proverbs. Further, Jews took up many proverbs of their hosting cultures where Jews lived for generations. If a host culture's proverb is taken up in one or more its Jewish communities and later written down as a proverb among, say, French Jews, it is entitled to be recognised as a French Jewish proverb. It is a matter of loaning phrases, as with many American proverbs; they have been taken up, said in English, written down by folklorists and published as American, even though they are similar to and variants of proverbs of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland - and immigrants' attempts at translating proverbs from their own countries too. [Mieder et al, 1996:ix-x, passim] [Proverbs in Ola and Per]

"While they are not of American origin, they are certainly in common use in North America." Such 'American' proverbs surely belong in a dictionary of American proverbs," writes the editors [Mieder et al., 1996:xi]

The same holds good for a lot of Jewish proverbs. While they are hardly of Jewish origin, their assimilation and use as bits of wisdom in the Jewish culture, allow for calling them Jewish proverbs - too, although their origins could be English, French or Arabic, as the case may be.

There are times when one could wonder which came first - the English proverb or the same Jewish proverb in English. There could be easy answers to that, thanks to scholarly labours for years. For example, A Dictionary of Proverbs traces many common English proverbs to many sorts of first appearances and possible origins of some. [Speake 2008]

Many sayings and proverbs in Yiddish and other languages of countries where Jews have lived for generations are of a mixed origin, as could be expected. Spanish and French Jewish proverbs are among such sayings. Some are changed a little to make them more applicable, with a wider relevance horizon. Martin Manser writes in his Dictionary of Proverbs that "Yiddish proverbs rank among the most humorous and inventive anywhere [and have a] worldly wise flavor. Typical subjects include food, health, money, and death" (2007:308)

Kvist

A bachelor should not be a match-maker.

A basic rule of caution: Don't be overly cautious.

A bird that you set free may be caught again. [Abr.]

A broken nail cannot be straightened, (i.e. It is useless to preach to one completely spoiled.)

A dead cow gives no milk.

A defect - the bride is too pretty. (Usually said when some one is seeking non-existent faults.)

A dog can't be a butcher, and a bachelor can't be a matchmaker.

A dream which has not been interpreted is like an unread letter. [Cohen No. 348; cf. C. G. Jung on dream interpretation]

A drowning man will grab even for the point of a sword.

A fault-finder complains even that the bride is too pretty.

A fool believes everything he hears. (Proverbs)

A good dream is better than a bad one. [Abr.]

A good name is more valuable than a velvet garment. [Moroccan Jewish saying]

A good tree bears good fruit. [Mod]

A good wife and health are a man's best wealth.

A healthy person instinctively loves life.

A heavy purse makes a light heart.

A house divided against itself - its future is to be destroyed.

A leader is not necessarily one who knows the way but one who thinks he knows the way.

A little child weighs on your knee, a big one on your heart. (Estonian)

A man in love is a happy man.

A man is not allowed to eat before he feeds his animal.

A man should stay alive if only out of curiosity.

A man too good for the world is no good for his wife.

A man's clothes hint at his inner character.

A mother understands what a child does not say.

A myrtle standing among reeds still retains the name of myrtle. (Cohen, nr 90)

A nation's future lies in its past.

A people's legends reveal its character more clearly than its acts and events.

A person can understand things deeply through proverbs.

A person cannot create even a tiny worm, but he fashions thousands of idols.

A person is lonely until he finds himself.

A person should not derive pleasure from his modesty.

A person should walk down the middle of the path, and not veer to one side or the other.

A person who lives among the righteous and sins is worse than one who lives among the wicked and sins.

A person who travels knows a great deal.

A pessimist, confronted with two bad choices, chooses both.

A quotation at the right moment is like bread to the hungry.

A raven that brings fire to its nest. [Fragment] p> A shut mouth catches no flies. (Irish)

A small hole can sink a big ship.

A store is a golden chain. (Any business, though profitable, keeps its owner tied down.)

A time to keep silent and a time to speak.

A wife is like a defensive wall for her husband.

A wolf loses his hair, but not his nature.

A woman's voice arouses lust in a man.

A young man has to live, an old man wishes to live.

According to the camel is the load. [Great people get bigger burdens.]

Adam was the luckiest of men: he had no mother-in-law.

Advice often comes too late when a thing is done. [Mod.]

Always marry for love -but it's as easy to fall in love with An angry man sleeps alone.

An ill marriage is a spring of ill forrune.

An intelligent mind will search for knowledge.

An intelligent person is like a strong oak: he rides over his misfortune.

As long as the cow can be milked, it is not brought to the slaughterer.

As men age, their views change.

As you make your bed so will you lie on it. (Russian)

As you teach, you learn.

Ask about your neighbours, then buy the house.

Ask your enemy for counsel and do the reverse.

At different ages, a person feels differently.

At times you'll find a people's outlook in its proverbs.

Attend no auctions if you have no money.

Bad servants ask for advice after the deed is done.

Baseless hate is a serious disease.

Be a pauper rather than a liar.

Be careful not to cause woman to weep, for God counts her tears.

Be exceeding lowly of spirit, for the hope of man is the worm. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Because of money, the world became ugly.

Being too nice can cost a lot. • Too nice can cost a lot of money.

Benevolence does not impoverish all and sundry. [Cf. Yiddish saying]

Better a Jew without a beard, than a beard without a Jew.

Better ask twice than go wrong once. (German)

Better late ripe and bear, than early blossom and blast.

Better wit than wealth. [Wit: Intelligence; mind, astute mental soundness and so on, including "clever and apt humour". Cf. Merriam-Webster]

Between bad company and loneliness, the latter is preferable. (Sephardic saying)

Beware of the person who gives you advice according to his own interests.

Blick auf die Maid, und nicht aufs Kleid.

Cancer–schmancer! – as long as you're healthy.

Charity and pride have different aims, yet both feed the poor.

Charity is the spice of riches.

Chickens come home to roost.

Choose your companion before (taking) the road. (Abr. Arabian)

Consider the mother, woo the daughter. (Bulgarian)

Constant dripping eats away at a stone.

Das letzte Hemd soll man versetzen und ein Ojscher (reicher Mann) soll man sein.

Dead men usually tell no tales. [Mod. Cf. Saul speaking with the dead Samuel]

Deeds count; words not so much. [Mod]

Deliver your words not by numbers but by weight.

Descend a step in choosing your wife.

Dieselbe Sonne bleicht die Leinewand, und bräunt das Gesicht.

Do not abandon us when we grow old.

Do not despise an ignorant man who strives to gain knowledge, or a man of ill repute who strives to redeem his past. [Midrash Proverbs 7].

Do not drain the waters of your well while other people may desire them.

Do not grow accustomed to uttering oaths.

Do not make yourself so big, you are not so small.

Do not measure the tail of a live wolf. (Bulgarian)

Do not place an obstacle before a blind person.

Do not pour out your dirty water ere you have clean water.

Do not put all your cheese into one fritter.

Do not say, "I'll study when I'm free" - you may never be free. Also: say not, 'When I have leisure I will study; perchance you may not have leisure.'

Do not side with the majority to do wrong.

Do not swallow poison because you know an antidote.

Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.

Don't bargain when you don't have any money.

Don't be choleric and you shall not sin. [Getting furious may weaken our judgement.]

Don't be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter lest you be spewed out.

Don't enter the forest if you fear leaves.

Don't follow the majority in the wrong path, because the majority are not always wise.

Don't gut your fish till you get them. (Scottish)

Don't live in a town where there are no doctors.

Don't make a fence more expensive or more important than what it is fencing.

Don't make a toil of pleasure.

Don't put all your money into one corner.

Don't shame an oldster, for we'll all be counted among them.

Don't spit into the well – you might drink from it later.

Don't throw out an old friend for a new one.

Don't withhold the good where it is due, if it's in your power to do it.

Drive your horse with oats – not with a whip.

Dying men speak true.

Each child brings his own blessing into the world, presumably. [Mod.]

Eat to live, at least. [Mod]

Ein Armer fürchtet keinen Dieb.

Ein schlechtes Weib ist ärger als der Tod.

A full sack stands upright. Ein voller Sack steht aufrecht.

Ein Weib und ein Pferd verleiht man nicht.

Einer will leben und kann nicht; ein andrer kann leben und will nicht.

Even butter and honey make you sick in time. (Bulgarian)

Even in this world, one can taste the joy of paradise.

Even the most expensive clock still shows sixty minutes in every hour.

Even the weather bureau is sometimes right.

Every man knows that he must die, but no one believes it.

Everything should be done within reason.

Experience is the mother of wisdom.

Experience is what we call the accumulation of our mistakes. (Yiddish saying)

Faith is not a whole series of axioms but a whole way of life.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and morality.

First learn and then teach.

First learn, and then form opinions.

First mend yourself, and then mend others.

Flattery sits in the parlour when plain dealing is kicked out of doors.

Folly is a joy only to a person lacking in understanding.

Fools love to eat the wrong sorts of sweets. [Mod. German Jewish saying]

For the benefit of the flowers, we water the thorns, too. [Egyptian Jewish saying]

For the wise, old age is the harvest season. [Hassidic saying]

Frag' einen Feind um Rat, und mach es umgekehrt.

From a foolish judge, a quick sentence.

From death one cannot hide. (Russian)

From one who has inherited, not from one for whom men plunder, [accept gifts]. [Cohen 29]

From the black earth there grows the finest grain.

Für die Wahrheit bekommt man Hiebe.

Generations come and go, but controversy lasts - (Abr.)

Gentle speech increases the number of friends.

Gluttony has killed more people than famine has.

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.

God created man in His own image.

God is a father; luck is a stepfather.

Good manners [often] supersede learning.

Habits are at first cobwebs, and at last cables.

Happiness is found in the heart. [Mod. Persian Jewish saying]

Happiness is more than gold.*

Happy is she who conducts herself honorably.

Having gone into the city, conform to its laws. (Cohen 179)

He is at ease who has enough.

He that goes for wool may chance to come home shorn. (Scottish)

He that knows nothing, doubts nothing.

He that sows thistles shall reap prickles.

He who changes his location, changes his luck.

He who comes first, grinds first.

He who flatters you is your enemy – who rebukes you is your friend.

He who has a certain nature will not sell it. (Moorish) i

He who knows he is a fool is not a big fool. (Chinese)

He who marries for money earns it.

He who puts up with insult invites injury.

He who sits at home, does not tear any boots.

Heavy purses and light hearts can sustain much. (Dutch)

He's got to learn how to shave another's beard.

How lovely is the sun after rain, and how lovely is laughter after sorrow. [Tunisian Jewish saying]

Humour is an important asset: it means understanding and self-criticism. Where humour is absent, you'll find small-mindedness.

I can chew for you, my child, but you must swallow by yourself. [Hungarian Jewish saying]

I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

I learned much from my teachers, more from my friends, and the most from my pupils.

Eat your fill before you get children.Iß dich satt, bevor du Kinder kriegst.

Idleness causes much mischief.

If a Jew cannot be a shoemaker, he will dream of being a professor.

If a link is broken, the whole chain breaks. • If one link has broken so has the whole chain.

If charity cost nothing, the world could be full of philanthropists. *

If I am not for myself, who will be?

If it must always be better, it can never be good enough.

If the arrow-maker is killed by his arrow, he is paid out of his own work.

If the Creator wills it, the broom can shoot a bullet.

If the grandmother had a beard she would be a grandfather.

If the house has fallen, woe to the windows.

If the pupil is smart, the teacher gets the credit.

If the wheat of the city be rye-grass, sow of it. [Cohen No. 216]

If there's a fire at your neighbor's you, too, are in danger.

If you built up bundles of sins, make bundles of good deeds to offset the former.

If you can't afford chicken, herring will do.

If you can't bite, don't bare your teeth.

If you did a good deed, don't ask for an immediate reward.

If you ever need a helping hand you'll find one at the end of your arm.

If you examine carefully enough, everything is tref. [treif, not kosher. Treif is a Yiddish word for food that does not conform with Jewish religious dietary laws, kashrut. The word treif is derived from "torn," and by interpretatoins and extensions it has come to apply to foods that are either inherently forbidden or rendered unacceptable from being prepared incorrectly - has come apply to all products that are non-kosher. - See WP s.v. "tref"; "kashrut", "kosher".]

If you lack wisdom, what have you got? If you have got wisdom, what do you lack? (Ibn Gabirol, Choice of Pearls, No. 17, in Cohen No. 93.)

If you lie on the ground, you cannot fall.

If you stay at home you won't wear out your shoes. (Yiddish)

If you steal from a thief, you also have a taste of it. (Just because someone steals, you have no right to rob them.)

If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gives it to.

If your son-in-law is good, you gained a son. If he is bad, you've lost a daughter.

In a large river, large fish swim.

In every generation there is more knowledge of philosophy, and new wisdoms arise - thus new illnesses are added to every generation.

In the hour a man dies, the Law and his good works accompany him.* [Mod. from Ethics of the Fathers]

It is a good tongue that says no ill.

It is a great point of wisdom to find out one's own folly.

It is best not to live in a city run by scholars.

It is better to eat vegetables and fear no creditors than to eat duck and hide from them.

It is good to draw the snake out of the hole with another's hand. (Spanish)

It is not every question that deserves an answer.

It is not the beard that makes the philosopher.

It is too late to call back yesterday.

It's better to talk to a woman than stop living.*

It's easier to be a critic than an author.

It's good to hope, it's the waiting that spoils it.

It's not as good with money, as it is bad without it.

Jealousy has teeth made of iron.

Judge every person with the benefit of the doubt.

Justice shall you pursue. [Mod.]

Know where you came for, where you are going, and who you are about to give account and reckoning in front of. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Koch einen Bauern süß oder sauer, er bleibt doch alleweil ein Bauer.

Learning is better than goods. (Moorish)

Leave the drunkard alone; he will fall by himself. [Det er eit ord mot å gjere narr av og plage den fulle, eit ord som nok ikkje gjeld nemneverdig for hjelpande hender. Tanken som jødar legg i ordtaket er om lag slik: "Unngjelding kjem nok i si eiga tid. Prøv ikkje å framskynde ho." (Jf. Cohen No. 198). Det er hyppig mange måtar å forstå ordspråk på om vi oppfattar dei figurativt, i overført meining.]

Lend your money and lose your friend.

Life and misery began together.

Love speaks, even when the lips are closed.

Love which depends on some thing, when the thing ceases, the love ceases. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Love work, loath mastery over others, and avoid intimacy with the government. • Love work; and hate lordship; and make not thyself known to the government. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Luck is better than wisdom. (French Jewish saying)

Luck makes you wise, luck makes you wealthy.

Lust [easily] leads to love.

Make no more haste than good speed.

Make room for the new. [Abr.]

Man lives in hope. (Yiddish)

Man sees the mote in his neighbor's eye, but does not know of the beam in his own.

Mind your own business.

Misfortune tell us what fortune is.

Money rules the world. (Dutch Jewish saying)

Money will buy you everything but good sense.

Morality and beauty are essentially the same.

My fathers planted for me, and I planted for my children.

My pen is my harp and my lyre; my library is my garden and my orchard.

My son, do as much good as you can . . . remember, there is no joy in the nether world.

Never be weary of doing good.

Never cry hallo till you are out of the woods.

Never make a promise you cannot keep. [in Aram, p 241]

Never mention rope in the house of a man who has been hanged.

Never too late to learn Latin. [Mod]

Never trust people who tell you all their troubles but keep from you all their joys.

Never waste good agony.

Nicht jeder, der am Ehrenplatze sitzt, ist ein vornehmer Herr.

Nine rabbis can't make a minyan, but ten cobblers, yes.

No individual can be whole without some link to the past.

No one shoe fits every foot.

No person is too old to learn. (French Jewish saying)

No rose without a thorn.

No use crying over spilt milk.

None is as deaf as the man who will not listen.

Not everyone who is happy today will be happy tomorrow.

Not everyone with a good memory is intelligent.

Old people often survive the young.

One beggar cannot be at two fairs [at the same time].

One cannot dig a well with a needle. (Turkish)

One has fear in front of a goat, in back of a mule, and on every side of a fool.

One lie begets another.

One match can set fire to a whole city.

One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

One person's candle furnishes light for many.

One should not send a cat to deliver cream.

One who bears false witness against his friend deserves to be thrown to the dogs.

One who has the reputation of an early riser may safely lie abed till noon.

One's handwriting delineates his intelligence.

Opinions are scanty, but differences of opinion abound.

Paradise exists everywhere for the true believers.

Partnership is good only with your wife - and there are those who say this too is not certain.

Peace will not rise by force. [Abr.]

Perfection anywhere is very rare.

Play the flute to noblemen (and they find it pleasant; play it) to weavers and they will not accept it. [Fools criticise what the wise admire, adds Cohen. Among Jews, weavers were looked down on. (No. 153 amd No. 23n]

Poverty and old age often travel together.

Praise a fair day at night.

Prepare your proof before you argue.

Pretended holiness is double iniquity.

Prevention is better than cure.

Pride can live in the dungheap.

Provide for the worst; the best can take care of itself.

Punishment of the sinner should not be seen as revenge.

Real success is success of the soul.

Reflection insures safety, but rashness is followed by regrets. (Ibn Gabirol nr 114)

Regard not the flask, but what is in it; there is a new flask that is full of old (wine), and an old one in which there is not even new (wine). [Ethics of the Fathers]

Rejoice not at your enemy's fall - but don't rush to pick him up either.

Say little and do much.

Say well, or be still.

Schickt man einen Narren einkaufen, dann freuen sich die Krämer.

Scholars expand peace in the world.

Scratching and lending help only for a while.

Sell the Holy Scrolls in the synagogue to give a poor girl a dowry.

Should the castle totter, its name is still castle; should the dunghill be raised, its name is still dunghill.

Should there be a case of hanging in someone's family record, say not to him, "Hang up this fish". [Consideration and good judgement can be developed.]

Silence is the fence round wisdom.

Sin crouches at every door.

Slander is worse than idolatry.

Small children stamp on your lap, big ones on your heart. (Czech)

Some that dance must pay the fiddler. [Mod]

Some wispered words are heard afar. [Mod.]

Someone else's worries don't take away your sleep.

Sometimes a penny is better spent than saved.

Sometimes even the liar will speak the truth.

Sometimes it's worthwhile for a wise man to play the role of a fool.

Sometimes people admit their mistakes, to mask their crimes.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Study today and don't delay.

Stupid solutions that succeed are still stupid solutions.

Sympathy doesn't provide food, but it makes hunger more endurable.

Tell nothing to your friend that your enemy does not know.

The beard does not make the philosopher. (Italian)

The bigger thief is he who steals people's minds.

The birds of the air despise a miser.

The common soldiers do the fighting, and the officers claim the victory.

The costliest clock can only show sixty minutes in every hour.

The crime itself is the punishment for crime.

The devil lurks behind the cross.

The dog follows you for the crumbs in your pocket.

The friar preached against stealing and had a goose in his sleeve.

The glory of young men is their strength. [Ethics of the Fathers]

The greatest wisdom is that a person should not be over-wise.

The heart is small and embraces the whole wide world.

The heart of a man may be compared to a sausage; few know exactly what's inside it.*

The innkeeper loves a drunkard, but not for a son-in-law.

The masses are no asses.

The merchant's way is first to show you junk, and then the good stuff.

The old lack enthusiasm, the young lack shrewdness.

The pearl is found in mud. (Latin)

The place does not honour the man - it is the man who gives honour to the place. [It may be a both-end also.]

The righteous say little and do much.

The rivalry of scholars advances science.

The soldiers fight, and the kings are heroes.

The soul cannot be spat out.

The sun will set without your assistance.

The talk of the child in the street is that of his father or his mother.

The thief on the point of breaking into (a house) calls on God (for help).

The thief who finds no opportunity to steal considers himself an honest man.

The tongue has no bone, yet it crushes. (Turkish)

The truly rich enjoy what they have. [Abr.]

The truth is not always what we want to hear.

The weeping of an heir is laughter under a mask. (Latin)

The wine belongs to the master, but the waiter receives the thanks.

The wise man conceals his intelligence; the fool displays his foolishness.

The world exists for the sake of kindness.

The world is bound to no man.

The world resembles a collapsing bridge.

There are lots of wise cures for slanderers. One of them is to get and stick to material that brings an accurate, fairly gained picture, and take pains to be precise to that purpose. (Opp. Talmud)

There are many academic chairs but few outstanding teachers.

There is no chasm in nature.

There is no place like home.

There is no time like the present.

There is seldom any occasion to light your lamp at noontide. [Mod.]

There's a time to throw and a time to gather stones.

Through Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa was the Temple destroyed. [The story is in WP, s.v. " Kamsa and Bar Kamsa"]

Time and chance happen to everyone.

Time enough to bewail your misfortune when it is here.

To be conscious that you're ignorant is a great step to knowledge.

Tradition must be a springboard to the future, not an easy chair for resting.

Trees were created for mankind's companionship.

Truth is a tree of life - you shall eat from it all your life.

Truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it.

Use your noble vase today; tomorrow it may break..

Verkehrt gefahren ist auch gefahren.

Victuals prepared by many cooks will be neither hot nor cold.

Vom Nichtnehmen ist noch kein Mensch reich geworden.

Vor dem Tod und vor dem Dalles [poverty] kann man sich nicht schützen.

Was nützt es, wenn die Kuh viel Milch gibt, wenn sie nachher den Milchkrug umwirft.

Was nutzt, daß der Bursch Sporen anhat, wenn er nicht reiten kann.

We are too soon old, and too late wise.

We do not even get death free of charge, for it costs us a life. (Russian)

Weak walls invite the burglar.

Well-known things do not need proof.

Wenn ein Kantor alt wird, bellt er wie ein Hund und frißt wie ein Schwein.

Wenn Gott will, schießt ein Besen.

Wenn man keinen Knoblauch ißt, stinkt man nicht.

What cannot be cured, must be endured.

What is the use of spurs when you cannot ride.

What one wants, one doesn't have.

What you give for charity while you're in health is gold; what you give after death is lead [Abr.].

What's done is done.

When a fool is sent to market, all the merchants are happy.

When a habit begins to cost money, it's called a hobby.

When a pauper eats a chicken, either he is ill - or the chicken was.

When a thief has no opportunity for stealing he considers himself an honest man.

When brains are needed, brawn won't help.

When he was a puppy, I fed him, and when he became a dog he bit me. [Talmud]

When luck comes, offer him a chair.

When one band is broken, two are broken. [A reminder of possible interconnections, as in a loom and a network.]

When one guest brings an uninvited guest, that is improper.

When schnapps ['drink'] goes in, judgment goes out.

When someone claims an inheritance, he sometimes has to pay for the funeral.

When swindlers meet a genuinely honest man, they're so astonished they regard him as a greater swindler than themselves.

When the ox falls, they sharpen their knives.

When the ox is down many are the butchers.

When two divorced people marry, four people get into bed.

When wood is chopped splinters fall.

When you have no choice, mobilise the spirit of courage.

When your daughter matures, marry her off!

When your enemy falls, don't rejoice overtly. [Mod.]

Where many go, no grass will grow.

Where there is too much, something is missing.

Wherever I sit, there is the front. (Usually said by an important person when he declines to sit up front.)

Wherever there is a secret, smell if something is wrong. [Mod]

Whether a person be Jew or Gentile . . . according to his acts does the Divine Spirit rest upon him.

While the fire is burning, slice your pumpkin and roast it. ["Strike while the iron is hot" has the same main meaning.]

Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure.

Who has eaten of the pot knows the taste of the broth. [About knowing things from one's own experience. (Cohen nr 98.)]

Who sits on the ground fears no fall. (Slovakian)

Who slanders others for what they are innocent of will be damned for his own guilt.

Who spends before he thrives, will beg before he thinks.

Whoever enjoys his life is doing the Creator's will.

Whoever enjoys his life is doing the Creator's will.

Whoever is crying for the past is praying in vain.

Wie du einen ansiehst, so sieht er aus.

Wie kommt die Katz übers Wasser? "Mit nasse Fuß."

"Wine banishes fear," says Solomon.

Wisdom by itself does not pay for groceries.

Wisdom goes not always by years.

Wisdom is a very great pedigree.

Wisdom is more precious than jewels.

Wisdom is more precious than pearls.

With money in your pocket, you are wise, handsome, and you sing well too. [i.e. - you are fawned on]

With much wealth comes many worries [- and easily, unless you are smart at handling such things and what each brings].

With wisdom alone you cannot go to market.

Without [sound] family life, no nation can be built.

Woe to him who is hated by all, or to him who is loved by all.

Words should be weighed, and not only counted. [Mod.]

Words should be weighed, not counted.

Work [has the capacity to] make life sweet. *

Worries go down better with soup than without.

Ye wise, be guarded in your words. [from Ethics of the Fathers]

Your friend also has a friend. (So be wary of telling your secrets even to your friends.)

Contents


Jewish proverbs in English, Literature  

Related: Jewish quotations and Talmud sayings [Link]

Aram, Homayoon. The Wit and Wisdom of Three Worlds: A Bilingial Collection of Popular Persian, Judaic and Western Proverbs and Expressions arranged by Theme. Bethesda, ML: Ibex, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ About 4000 proverbs and sayings in English, from Persian, Jewish and Western sources. They are sorted into 129 thematic groups, like war and love. The proverbs originate from the Bible, Talmud, other literature and oral sources. It is a fine work of compilations and comparisons of old and similar expressions.

Ausubel, Nathan. A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: The Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom and Folk Songs. New York: Crown, 1948. ⍽▢⍽ There is a little proverb section in it too.

Bryce, Glendon E. A Legacy of Wisdom: The Egyptian Contribution to the Wisdom of Israel. London: Associated University Presses, 1979.

Chronicle Books. Jewish Proverbs. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1989. ⍽▢⍽ 58 illustrated proverbs.

Cohen, Abraham, saml. Ancient Jewish Proverbs. London: John Murray, 1911. ⍽▢⍽ Here are 350 Jewish proverbs with several needed explanations of Jewish customs, history and culture.skikkar, historie og kultur. The British-Jewish author uses German collections of Yiddish proverbs by several rabbis, but the main content comes from the ancient Talmúd og Mishna. Cohen's collection was part of the British "Wisdom of the East" series, edited by Lancelot Cranmer-Byng og S. A. Kapadia.

Collins, Edwin, tr. The Wisdom of Israel: Being Extracts from the Babylonian Talmud and Midrash Rabboth. London, John Murray, 1910.

de Ley, Gerd, og David Potter. Jewish Wisdom. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006.

EB. Encyclopedia Britannica, DVD and Online, sv. "Proverbs, the".

Gross, David C. Dictionary of 1000 Jewish Proverbs. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1997. ⍽▢⍽ One thousand old and more recent Jewish proverbs are put into theme groups and arranged alphabetically within each. The Jewish proverbs are transliterated as well as translated into English. Example: Harayonot p'tureem mimas. Ideas are exempt from duty payments. In other words, "Thoughts are (in essence) freeware."

Gross, David C., og Esther R. Gross, Jewish Wisdom: A Treasury of Proverbs, Maxims, Aphorisms, Wise Sayings, and Memorable Quotations. New York: Walker and Co./Bloomsbury, 1989. ⍽▢⍽ Over a thousant proverbs and sayings and quotations are found together under some 300 themes. There are more quotations than proverbs.

Landsberger, Artur. Jüdische Sprichwörter. Leipzig: Ernst Rowohlt Verlag, 1912. ⍽▢⍽ Yiddish proverbs have been translated into German. A good book of its kind.

Manser, Martin H, main ed. Dictionary of Proverbs. 2nd ed. New York: Facts on File, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ Meanings and origins of more than 1,700 popular sayings. Some are Jiddish.

Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder. A Dictionary of American Proverbs. Paperback ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Speake, Jennifer, ed. A Dictionary of Proverbs. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Taylor, Charles, ed. Sayings of the Jewish Fathers. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1897. ⍽▢⍽ A convenient translation of the Pirkei Avot (also Pirqe Aboth, Pirkei Avoth or Pirkei Avos or Pirke Aboth) into English. The Hebrew title translates to "Chapters of the Fathers". It is also called "Ethics of the Fathers". The work is a compilation of ethical teachings, some moral principles and maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishna-period.

Weingarten, Joseph Abraham, saml., oms. Yiddish Proverbs. New York: 1941. ⍽▢⍽ Yiddish proverbs as translated into English.

WP. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Yoffie, Leah Rachel. "Yiddish Proverbs, Sayings, etc., in St. Louis, Mo." The Journal of American Folk-Lore, April 1, 1920. ⍽▢⍽ 420 Yiddish proverbs from America, with English translations of them.

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