Jewish Wisdom: Koheles

”Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

-Koheles 4:6

Yesterday, I  bought a slim hardback book by Koren publishers containing sayings of the Chazal, and selected quotes from the Mishlei and other sources of ”Ethics and wisdom for life”. Richly illustrated and beautifully presented, I thought I could use this trilingual book to inspire some Jewish Thoughts of my own! As such, I decided to open the book to a random page and try to write something- something inspirational- about what I discovered. I was hoping for an easy quote, but I didn’t get one.

This quote from Koheles is difficult for me to understand. It seems to be saying ”quit while you’re ahead”- fair enough- and is echoing the common sentiment ”Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush”. I think I prefer the Yiddische version to the hunter’s version, but the message remains the same. So basically, what Koheles is saying here is ”don’t be greedy”. Don’t look for what you can’t have, and learn to recognise when to stop.

In short; Who is happy? He who is content with his lot!


This insight also appeared here.


3 thoughts on “Jewish Wisdom: Koheles

  1. As it is customary to learn Koheles during Sukkos, I’ve done that for many years. I think the operative phrase here is “chasing after the wind, ” and I agree with you that the meaning is basically the same as your quote from Pirkei Avos about being “content with your lot.” What is the name of the book? I’d like to look into it – thank you. And thank you for a very illuminating post!

    Liked by 1 person

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