Missing the Mark and a Precious Pearl of Advice
“There were once some hooligans in the neighborhood of Rabbi Me’ir who caused him a great deal of trouble. Rabbi Me’ir prayed for mercy on them, that they should die. Rabbi Me’ir’s wife, Beruria, said to him: What is your thinking? Because it is written Let חַטָּאִים (ḥatta’im), offences, vanish (Psalms 104:35). Is it written חוֹטּאִים (ḥott’im), offenders? It is written ḥatta’im, offences! Further, look at the end of the verse: and the wicked be no more. Since the offences will cease, there will be no more wicked men! Rather pray for them that they should return [to the right way], and there will be no more wicked. He did pray for them, and they returned” (BT Berakhot 10a).
Every one of them could sling a stone at a hair, and not יַחֲטִא (yaḥati), miss (Judges 20:16).
There is no man righteous on earth who does good and will not יֶחֱטָא (yaḥeta), miss the mark (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
There is no man who does not יֶחֱטָא (yeḥeta), offend (2 Chronicles 6:36).
“For a nation lost in counsel are they (Deuteronomy 32:28)—Rabbi Yehudah explains the verse in reference to Israel, but Rabbi Neḥemiah explains it in reference to the nations of the world. Rabbi Yehudah explains the verse in reference to Israel: Israel has lost the good sense that had been given them. For, actually, counsel implies Torah, as is said: Mine is counsel and prudence, [I am Discernment, mine is might] (Proverbs 8:14).
There is no understanding among them (Deuteronomy 32:28)—there isn’t one of them clever enough to observe and wonder: Yesterday, one of us would pursue a thousand of the nations, and two of us would put 10,000 to flight. But now, one of the nations pursues a thousand of us, and two put 10,000 of us to flight—is it not Had not their Rock handed them over, [had YHWH not given them up] (ibid. 32:30)?
Rabbi Neḥemiah explains it in reference to the nations: The nations have lost the seven commandments that I gave them, there is no understanding among them.
In the days of Messiah, there won’t be one of them clever enough to observe and wonder: Now, one of them pursues a thousand of us, and two of them puts 10,000 of us to flight—is it not Had not their Rock handed them over?” (Sifrei, Deuteronomy 322).
“Our Rabbis taught: Beloved are Israel, for the blessed Holy One surrounded them with mitsvot: tefillin on their heads, tefillin on their arms, tsitsit on their garments, and mezuzot on their doorposts; concerning these David said, Seven times daily I praise you because of Your righteous laws (Psalms 119:164). And as David entered the bath and saw himself standing naked, he exclaimed, ‘אוֹי (Oy) that I stand naked without any mitsvah!’ But when he reminded himself of the circumcision in his flesh his mind was set at ease. And when he came out he sang a psalm of praise concerning it, as is written, To the lead player, on the eight, A David psalm (Psalms 12:1); that is, concerning circumcision which was given [for the] eighth [day].
Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Ya’aqov said, Whosoever has the tefillin on his head, the tefillin on his arm, the tsitsit on his garment, and the mezuzah on his doorpost, is in absolute security and will not יֶחֱטָא (yaḥeta), offend, as is written, [And if one should attack him, the two will stand against him.] And the triple cord will not quickly be snapped (Ecclesiastes 4:12); and it is also written, YHWH’s messenger encamps round those who fear Him and sets them free (Psalms 34:8)” (BT Menaḥot 43b).
“Rabbi Ḥanina and Rabbi Yonatan were walking on the road and came to a parting of ways, one led by the door of a place of idol-worship and the other led by a whore house. One said to the other: Let us go by the place of idolatry since the impulse for it has been abolished [see BT Sanhedrin 64a]. The other, however, said: Let us go by the whore house and defy our impulse and have our reward. As they approached the place they saw the whores withdraw at their presence. One said to the other: How did you know this? He said מְזִמָּה (Mezimmah) will watch over you, discernment will keep you, [to save you from a way of evil, from a man who speaks perversely] (Proverbs 2:11).
The Rabbis said to Rava: How is this word מְזִמָּה (mezimmah) to be understood [since it has the twofold meaning of cunning, and depravitity]? Shall it be rendered Torah since the word זִמָּה (zimmah) in Scripture is rendered in the Targum [Onqelos], She is counsel of the wicked (Leviticus 18:17); and Scripture has the phrase, Wonderful is His counsel, and excellent His wisdom (Isaiah 28:29)? But in that case the word should have been זִמָּה (zimmah). This, then, is how it is to be understood, ‘Against things of זִמָּה (zimmah), depravitity, She [מְזִמָּה (mezimmah), Cunning, i.e., Torah] will watch over you'” (BT Avodah Zarah 17b, cf. Sifrei, Deuteronomy 322; Midrash Tanna’im, Deuteronomy 32:28; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12:12; Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 8:5).
“For one who puts wisdom before יִרְאַת חֶטְאוֹ (yirat ḥeto), his fear of missing the mark, wisdom does not endure” (M Avot 3:11).
“A king had a precious pearl, and it was the treasure of his kingdom” (Bahir §72).
“Torah, who offers advice to the whole world… and she warns the inhabitants of the world, saying, ‘Look how compassionately your Lord treats you! A precious pearl that He had, He has sold to you for nothing, that you might have dominion over it in the world” (Zohar 2:97a).
“For we have learned: Torah has given 613 types of advice to a person in order for him to be complete with his Lord, for his Lord wants to benefit him in this world and in the world that is coming—especially in the world that is coming” (Zohar 2:82b).