Who Is The Man Who Wants Life? מי האיש החפץ חיים

Yesterday, a student of Learnoutlive came with the following story to our online Hebrew lesson offering me to learn it together. I happily agreed and here is the English version based on Levitikus Rabbah chapter 16.

Who is the man who wants life ?1

Once upon a time there was a merchant who used to wander through the villages close to Tzippori2 announcing his goods in a loud voice : “Who wants to have a Remedy for Life?”

Everybody assembled around him and said: “Give us The Remedy for Life!”

At the same time Rabbi Yanai was sitting in his parlor trying to understand the simplicity of the Torah and to implement it. He heard a voice calling outside his parlor’s window: “Who wants Remedy for Life?”

Rabbi Yanai approached the window and called: “Come up here and sell it to me!”

The merchant didn’t hesitate and replied: “Not to you, and not to people like you.”

Rabbi Yanai tried to persuade the merchant to come up to his parlor several times more, until the merchant finally came, opening his Psalms and showing him a verse.

“Who is the man who wants life?” asked the merchant, “and what is the following verse?”, he continued. “Keep your tongue from evil?”3

Rabbi Yannai added: “King Solomon says:’The one who keeps his mouth and his tongue, keeps the troubles far away from his soul’”.4

And so summarized Rabbi Yanai: “All my days I have been reading this verse and I didn’t know how simple it is until this merchant came and notified me.”

comment by the original text’s unknown author:

This is why Moses warns Israel: “This is the law of the leprous.” The law of a person whose lips are raw.5

Who Is The Man Who Wants Life ? מי האיש החפץ חיים

תהלים לד יג                                                           Psalms 34, 14

יג מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים; אֹהֵב יָמִים, לִרְאוֹת טוֹב.

Who is the man who wants life, who loves the the days to see the good in them.

יד נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנְךָ מֵרָע; וּשְׂפָתֶיךָ, מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה.

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from false assumptions.

טו סוּר מֵרָע, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב; בַּקֵּשׁ שָׁלוֹם וְרָדְפֵהוּ.

Stay away from bad, ask for peace and pursue it.

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About Eti Shani

Eti Shani was born in Israel and has been teaching Hebrew for more than 10 years with a special interest and experience in ancient Hebrew scriptures and culture. She's also the author of a series of books for novice and intermediate Hebrew learners.
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