Kohelet Nine and Ten: Private and Public

Double blog post today!

“Wisdom is better than weapons, and one sinner destroys much good (Ecclesiastes 9:18).” So for this verse, I like both clauses of it, but I want to focus on the second one. It’s crazy how much one bad action on the part of one person can have a ripple effect and negatively impact countless people, and can counteract good deeds and actions in a reverberating manner. I think that’s part of why people in my life like my mom, or my grandma, take it personally when they hear about a fellow Jew committing wrongs, because they believe (with a fair amount of good reason) that the actions of one impact all of us, if in perception if nothing else.

“Even in your thought, you shall not curse a king, nor in your bedrooms shall you curse a wealthy man, for the bird of the heaven shall carry the voice, and the winged creature will tell the matter (Ecclesiastes 10:20).” If the last verse was about public problems, this one is deeply private. There are certain things that I say, either in my head or in the privacy of my own home or to my closest family and friends, that I would never say elsewhere. However, this verse seems to indicate that even that level of discretion isn’t good enough. There are plenty of sources and stats that say that our inner thoughts become our outer feelings and actions, so there probably is a great deal of value to the commandment not to be negative, even in those most private spaces.


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