In Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers), an order of the Mishneh dedicated to Wisdom, Rabbi Yochanan said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born [out of ones actions]. Said Rabbi Elazar (the son of Arach): A good heart. Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours. (2: 10)
I was always impressed by Rabbi Shimon’s definition;
The best trait …. He who sees what is born
הרואה את הנולד
I thought that R. Shimon had the “vision thing” and like Herzl understood that
אִם תִּרְצוּ, אֵין זוֹ אַגָדָה
If you will it, it is no dream.
Turns out R. Shimon was more prosaic and his advice relates more to home economics, start-up financing and debt service. As the wonderful Hazan of my Westport Connecticut Conservative Synagogue; Cantor Luis Cattan, pointed out, the first part of our mishneh (the Raisha) is contrasted with the second part of the mishneh (the Seifa).
The opposite of a good eye, might be a bad eye, but the opposite of someone who does not envision the future is not a realist or short sighted pedantic …. It’s a deadbeat, maybe even a tax and spend progressive. Oh well…
He said to them: Go and see which is the worst trait, the one that a person should most distance himself from. Said Rabbi Eliezer: An evil eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: An evil friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: An evil neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To borrow and not to repay; for one who borrows from man is as one who borrows from the Almighty, as is stated, “The wicked man borrows and does not repay; but the righteous one is benevolent and gives” (Psalms 37:21). Said Rabbi Elazar: An evil heart. Said He to them: I prefer the word of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.