Ben Zoma said:
Who is wise? One who learns from all people, as it is written (Psalm 119:99) "I have gained understanding from all my teachers."
Who is strong? One who conquers her (evil) inclination, as it is written (Proverbs 16:32) "One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled is better than one who captures a city."
Who is rich? One who is happy with her portion, as it is written (Psalm 128:2) "You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you." "You shall be" refers to this world; and "it shall be well with you" refers to the world to come.
Who is honored? One who honors her fellow people, as it is written (I Samuel 2:30) "For those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt."
א בן זומא אומר, איזה הוא חכם--הלמד מכל אדם, שנאמר "מכל מלמדיי, השכלתי" (תהילים קיט,צט). איזה הוא גיבור--הכובש את יצרו, שנאמר "טוב ארך אפיים, מגיבור" (משלי טז,לב). איזה הוא עשיר--השמח בחלקו, שנאמר "יגיע כפיך, כי תאכל; אשריך, וטוב לך" (תהילים קכח,ב): "אשריך", בעולם הזה; "וטוב לך", לעולם הבא. איזה הוא מכובד--המכבד את הברייות, שנאמר "כי מכבדיי אכבד ובוזיי ייקלו” (שמואל א ב,ל).
Questions to consider:
• WISE Is wisdom something that comes from external forces or internal ones?
• STRONG The "inclination" referred to here seems to be the inclination toward anger. Is this statement applicable in other cases of inclinations?
• RICH What is the "portion" that the Mishnah is speaking of? Is it really possible to be happy with our lot in life, ever? Have you ever been fully happy? Isn't there something delusory or even dangerous about this idea?
• HONORED It's easy to honor good, respectful, generous, successful people. How can we honor the tough ones -- the challenging, unpleasant people, whose values don't seem to align with our own? Must we? Why/not?