Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview
Save to active project

36
A Poor Man's Wisdom Is Scorned

TOLD BY YEHUDAH HERMANN TO YIFRAḤ ḤAVIV

In the Middle Ages there lived a great poet, Abraham ibn Ezra, who was dreadfully poor. He had absolutely nothing except for his staff and his bag, with which he wandered from place to place. All his life, Ibn Ezra was troubled by the verse "A poor man's wisdom is scorned."* "Why is the wisdom of the poor man scorned?" he kept asking himself. "Why did King Solomon write that?" He never could find an answer to his question until the following incident occurred.

Once, during his wandering from city to city, through mountains and wastelands, he met a man who, like him, was traveling with a bag. But with one difference—this fellow had two purses tied together, one on his back and another on his chest.

Ibn Ezra fell into step with him. As they walked, he asked the man, "Who are you?"

"I am a very rich man," he replied, "from very far away. I sold all my property and everything I owned and used the money to buy precious stones. I am carrying these gems in the bag on my back. The other one, on my chest, is full of rocks, of the same weight as the gems."

"Why?" asked Ibn Ezra.

"So that the weight will be equally divided and the gems on my back will not weigh me down."

Ibn Ezra said to him, "Wouldn't it be better to divide the gems into two equal parts? Half in front of you and the other on your back? The weight would still be balanced but your burden would be lighter."

"You're right!" replied the rich man. "Why didn't I think of that? But tell me, are you poor or rich?"

"The poorest of the poor! No one is poorer than I!" Ibn Ezra answered.

"I have learned from my ancestors," the rich man said, "never to heed the advice of a poor man!"

Ibn Ezra was astonished by this answer, but said nothing. The two kept

* Ecclesiastes 9:16.

-269-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 624

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?