The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride. — Ecclesiastes 7:8
A story is told about a man whose horse ran away. His neighbors came to console him and told him how sorry they were that this bad thing had happened. The man replied, “Who says it’s a bad thing? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.”
A few days later, the horse returned along with a beautiful black mare. The neighbors came over to congratulate the man who now had two horses instead of one. They said what a good thing had happened to him. The man replied, “Who says this is a good thing? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.”
The next day, the man’s son was riding the new horse when he fell off and broke his leg. This time the neighbors were consoling the man once more saying how he was right — what they had thought was good was really bad. The man again replied, “Who says it’s bad? Maybe it is and maybe it’s not.”
A few days later, representatives of the Czar came to round up all the young boys to serve in the army. In those days, that was usually a death sentence. They didn’t take the man’s son because his leg was broken. When the neighbors came over that day, the man declared, “Now I know that my horse running away was a good thing!”
In Ecclesiastes we read, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning.” The Jewish sages explain the reason why the end is better than the beginning because only at the end can we truly know if something is good or bad. In the beginning, something that looks bad may turn out good while something that looks good can turn out bad. But then again, like the story, we know that things can become good again. It’s only at the end that we know for sure.
Moreover, we read in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you . . .” We know that for those who are God-fearing, the end will be good. We just need to be patient enough to see it.
This explains the connection to the second part of the verse from Ecclesiastes: “patience is better than pride.” Pride says that we know it all and we can determine what’s good for us and what is bad. Patience says, “Let’s wait and see.”
Friends, when it comes to our own lives, let’s remember that the jury is out until the end. No matter what struggles we may be facing today, the story isn’t over yet. Ultimately, things will turn out for good. With patience and faith, we will see it yet.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President