wise sayings

by Zera Yacob, philosopher (1599-1692)

on fasting and absconding certain foods for religious ends

God does not order absurdities such as ‘‘Eat this, do not eat this; today eat, tomorrow do not eat, do not  eat meat today, eat it tomorrow. . . neither did God say to the Mohammedians: ‘eat during the night, but do not eat during the day.’ ’’

human beings are all equal because they are all endowed with intelligence and are fated to die.

Truth occurs only when all persons agree on a given matter or value.

On obligations

Thus, the first foundational obligation of human beings is to love others as you would yourself, and not to do to others what you would not do to yourself.

On men

‘‘There are four kinds of men. The person who knows and teaches, he himself being educated: he is a scholar; ask him questions and learn from him. The person who knows and does not teach, although he is a scholar: he is intelligent; remember him. The person who does not know but teaches: he is in need of guidance; teach him and guide him. The person who does not know and does not want to learn: he is a fool; keep away from him.’’

On wisdom

Wisdom is not good if the action is not good.

On sorrow

Sorrow is of two kinds. One type is that of conscience: the rational soul becomes sad out of lack of knowledge. The animal soul feels sorry out of lack of food and drink and the like.