1) What are the virtues of learning to wait or having patience, סבלנות?

2) Is there anywhere in the Torah that shows because of lacking patience or the ability to wait, caused tragedies throughout Jewish history?

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    King Saul didn't wait the full week for Shmuel, Shmuel was upset. Jewish people didn't wait the full 40 days for Moses before the Golden Calf, that led to some problems. After the spies, the Jews who didn't want to wait in the desert and tried to invade Israel met a harsh fate. A medrash says that Jews who tried to leave Egypt early didn't survive. Still, not sure exactly what you're asking. – A L Aug 16 '16 at 19:35
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    By "Torah" do you mean only the 1st 5 books, all of Tana"ch or are you including Talmud, Midrash, etc.? The word סבלנות is a modern Hebrew word, and it does not appear in the first 5 books. I'm quite sure that you won't find this word anywhere in the rest if Tanac"h, either. So, please clarify. Pirkei Avot, I believe, mentions the concept of being patient. – DanF Aug 16 '16 at 21:22
  • @AL - I think your comment deserves to be an answer. – Jay Aug 17 '16 at 16:54
  • It seems to me that there are two Hebrew words for two different types of patience: Savlanut and Erech Apayim. – LN6595 Aug 17 '16 at 21:09
  • "Is there anywhere in the Torah that shows because of lacking patience or the ability to wait, caused tragedies throughout Jewish history?" is positing a very specific claim. Why would you expect this specific idea to exist in the Torah? – Isaac Moses Aug 25 '16 at 20:33

the first teaching in Pirkei Avot is "to be patient in judgment", meaning to weigh things and not make hasty decisions. Likewise, in the Mesilat Yesharim the first step on the ladder of ascent after torah study is watchfulness which is to "not do any act without first weighing it on the scales of understanding". This is the first and most important foundation of everything after torah, i.e. getting the right understanding.

The first tragedy, namely, Adam's eating from the forbidden fruit also involved lack of patience. According to the opinion that it was a grape, had he waited until the Sabbath, he would have used it to make Kidush and drank from it.

  • According to the opinion that it was a grape, had he waited until the Sabbath, he would have used it to make Kidush and drank from it. Source? (Remember, wine for kiddush is likely rabbinic). || Is there any reason to assume that according to the other opinions this had anything to do with patience? – mevaqesh Aug 22 '16 at 22:08

Patience, in the sense of trusting in God and letting things take their course, is one of the core teachings of the Torah. Impatience is caused by a false feeling of control over our destiny, and as we learn to relinquish that control to God our patience grows, together with our Emunah. Also, growth takes time, and without patience we do not give ourselves the time we need to grow and mature.

While the Torah does not explicitly instruct us "be patient", patience is a common theme in many of the stories of the Torah. Here are a few examples:

  • God is very patient with people for the first ten generations, and then again between the Flood and the birth of Avraham. (Avos 5:2)
  • Avraham is patient with going to Canaan, and with waiting for it to be given to him. Lot is impatient and "claims" the land early.
  • Avraham waits patiently for children. Sara gets impatient (after a long wait, admittedly) and gives him Hagar, which seems to have not been good.
  • Yaakov is quite patient while working for Lavan before he marries Rachel.
  • Yosef's brother's are imaptient, and try to pre-emptively prevent his dreams from coming true. Yaakov patiently waits to see what will happen.
  • Yosef tries to give a little "push" to how things are developing and asks the royal butler to mention him to Pharaoh. When this does not work out well he is very patient, and does not reveal himself to his brothers when they come.
  • Moshe is impatient when conditions worsen for the Jews after he comes to Pharaoh, (Shemos 5:23) and he is punished for this.
  • The Jews are impatient when Moshe does not come down from Har Sinai when they expected him, and they made the golden calf.

1) Hebrew language have many words for "patience" corresponding to the varied meanings of this concept. According to the sages (Akeidas Yitzchok 27:13) this is the most important personal trait to be pursued. There are lots of examples showing the virtue of that; I think is worth mentioning two in particular: restraining anger and avoid idolatry.

2) One midrash says that if Israel had waited for Moses and did not had built the Golden calf, there would have been no exile.

The Nach frequently teaches us to pratice patience with adages such as Koheles (7:8) which says "the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit". Mishlei says: “better the long patience than a hero, and someone who is in control of his spirit, than the conqueror of a city” and 14:29: “Patience results in much understanding; Impatience gets folly as its portion.” The prophet Micah show us that he suffers many challenging conditions and yet endures. At some point he says "I will wait for Hashem who saves me" (7:7).

The patience of Israel is expressed in the 12th article of Maimonides' Principles: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and though he may tarry, none the less will I patiently hope every day until he does come."

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