in Hebrew we have an adage that says “הדור הולך ופוחת” ("Hador holekh wepocheth"), meaning “the generation is getting more and more diminished", which may have meant that there are fewer and fewer new children, but now commonly means that the younger generations are not as educated/disciplined/well-rounded/well-mannered/etc. than the previous ones. I wonder where it originates from.

I recall reading something to that effect in Qoheleth ("Ecclesiastes") back when I fully read it (in Hebrew) saying something like “don't say the 'Generation is diminishing' for it is folly”, but I can no longer find it.

Any insights will be welcome.

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    Shlomi, welcome to Mi Yodeya (and I hope you do follow your interesting question here)! I hope you'll poke around and find other material of interest to you. Perhaps you could help us add more kohelet-related questions, of which we have only three others so far. – Isaac Moses Feb 12 '13 at 18:25
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    Perhaps you are thinking of 1:4? Since it doesn't match so much, I didn't post it as an answer. – b a Feb 13 '13 at 1:33
  • google.com/… shows nothing of immediate use but may help to trigger more ideas. – msh210 Feb 13 '13 at 2:16
  • @b-a: I was thinking more of <a href="sacred-texts.com/bib/poly/ecc007.htm">Qoheleth 7 10</a> which says “Do not ask what happened that made the first days better than these, for you did not speak in wisdom.” (my translation). – Shlomi Fish Feb 16 '13 at 9:02

This is probably related to the גמרא בבלי:שבת קי"ב: "אם ראשונים כמלאכים אנו כבני אדם, ואם ראשונים כבני אדם אנו כחמורים". If the earlier generations were like angels then we are like men and if the earlier generations were like people then we are like donkeys.

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    Perhaps conceptually similar, but likely not etymologically similar. – Double AA Feb 13 '13 at 3:15
  • I agree with Double AA. – Shlomi Fish Feb 16 '13 at 8:54

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