Luke 18:1
He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up,

“…so long as you never despair or give up crying out, praying and pleading. The only thing is to cry out, to pray, to plead … never ever tire of it. Eventually you will rise up from where you have fallen. The essence of teshuvah is to cry out to God.”
Chayei Moharan 565, Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, “Tzaddik” (Breslov Research Institute) [1]

Luke 18:2
saying, “There was a judge in a certain city who did not fear God, and did not respect man.

Luke 18:3
A widow was in that city, and she often came to him, saying, ‘Defend me from my adversary!’

Luke 18:4
He wouldn’t for a while, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God, nor respect man,

Luke 18:5
yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.’

Luke 18:6
The Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says.”

Luke 18:7
Will not God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them?

In the Parable of the Unjust Judge, Yeshua uses a kal v’chomer (light and heavy) argument of logic. If this unjust judge, who is wicked, will bring justice to the widow, how much more with the Righteous Judge of all the universe bring justice to the oppressed. This parable seems to echo the Wisdom of Yeshua ben Sirach,

“…for the Lord is judge, and with him is no respect of persons. He will not accept any person against a poor man, but will hear the prayer of the oppressed. He will not despise the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow, when she pours out her complaint. Do not the tears run down the widow’s cheeks?…The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds…”
Sirach 35:12-17

Luke 18:8
I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

“In that time mighty wars will arise in all quarters of the world, and no faith shall be found among men…Then will the King Messiah appear and the kingship shall be given to him. Mankind will then suffer one calamity after another, and the enemies of Israel will prevail, but the spirit of the Messiah shall rise against them and destroy the sinful Edom and burn in fire the land of Seir.”
Zohar 3:212b, Soncino Press Edition

Luke 18:9
He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others.

This is a critical detail in understanding the parable that follows.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (1886-94) by James Tissot

Luke 18:10
Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector.

Luke 18:11
The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

The detail that the Pharisee prayed “to himself” is stunning. It may be alternatively rendered that he “prayed about himself.” When Yeshua uses the Pharisee as example, it is with a sense of irony. The Pharisee, contrary to common Biblical teaching, is supposed to be paragon of spiritual excellence, and the tax collector is the prime example of wickedness. By flipping the script so to speak, Yeshua words have an impact on the audience that is often missed by modern audiences. There is a prayer in the Siddur called the Tachanun, said after the Shemoneh Esreh, that contains a section called the Vidui, the Confession, that implores HaShem to hear the prayer and supplication before saying the following:

“we are not so brazen and obstinate as to say before You, HaShem our G-d, and the G-d of our forefathers, that we are righteous and have not erred – rather we and our forefathers have erred.”
The Complete Artscroll Siddur, Nusach Sefard, R’ Nosson Scherman, Mesorah Publishing Ltd., pgs. 127, 273

Luke 18:12
I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.

There is no obligation to fast twice a week. This detail illustrates that went beyond the minimum and became inflated in the process. The Talmud speaks of someone who vowed to fast every Monday and Thursday (Taanit 12a). This is later echoed in the Shulchan Aruch, as  Dr. R’ Zev Farber and Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich write,

“The Shulchan Aruch even suggests that a pious person should fast every single Monday and Thursday, in remembrance of past Jewish tragedies.
Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber and Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich, Why Jews Fast, [2]

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Laws of Fasting, 580:3 cited above is as follows,

יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר שֶׁגָּזְרוּ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מִתְעַנִּין בְּכָל שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי עַל חֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת,
וְעַל הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנִּשְׂרְפָה, וְעַל חִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם; וְלֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא יַהַפְכֵם ה’ לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחָה

“There are those who say and who rule that there should be a [fast] every second [day] for the destruction of the Temple (lit. House), and for the Torah being burned, and for the desecration of the Name. And the future is coming when these will be changed by HaShem for joy and gladness.”

This Pharisee also goes beyond the letter of the Torah in giving tithes of “all that I get.” It was only required to tithe on the seven species. Yeshua references this concept of going beyond the seven species in Matthew 23, and says that it should be done,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the Torah: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.”
Matthew 23:23

Luke 18:13
But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!

After the words cited in the Vidui are said above, the following instruction is given: “Strike the left side of the chest with the right fit while reciting each of the sins of the following confessional litany,” followed by the prayer,

“We have become guilty, we have betrayed, we have robbed, we have spoken slander…”
The Complete Artscroll Siddur, Nusach Sefard, R’ Nosson Scherman, Mesorah Publishing Ltd., pgs. 127, 273

Luke 18:14
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Talmud says,

“ . . . he who humbles himself for the sake of the Torah in this world is magnified in the next; and he who makes himself a servant to the [study of the] Torah in this world becomes free in the next.”
Baba Metzia 85b, Soncino Press Edition

Luke 18:15
They were also bringing their babies to him, that he might touch them. But when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

Luke 18:16
Yeshua summoned them, saying, “Allow the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Luke 18:17
Amein, I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it.

“The children aren’t the only guarantors of the Torah. The adult who dedicates himself to the Torah in a childish manner, he too can take credit for ensuring the continuity of the Torah.”
Naftali Silberberg, A Childish Understanding of the Torah, [3]

Luke 18:18
A certain ruler asked him, saying, “Good Rabbi, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

This episode is also mentioned in Matthew 19:16.

Luke 18:19
Yeshua asked him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, except One – God.”

Luke 18:20
You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Honor your father and your mother.”

Luke 18:21
He said, “I have observed all these things from my youth up.”

Luke 18:22
When Yeshua heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.”

Luke 18:23
But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was very rich.

Luke 18:24
Yeshua, seeing that he became very sad, said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!

Luke 18:25
For it is easier for a camel to enter in through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The term “eye of a needle” is a Rabbinic term,

“R’ Johanan further stated: The hearts of the ancients were like the door of the Ulam, but that of the last generations was like the door of the Hekal, but ours is like the eye of a fine needle.”
Eiruvin 53a, Soncino Press Edition, Genesis Rabbah 1:3

It has been suggested that the actual translation here should not be “camel” but “rope” based on the Aramaic Peshitta. However, we do have Rabbinic usage of an animal going through the eye of a needle,

“…a man is never shown in a dream a date palm of gold, or an elephant going through the eye of a needle.”
Berachot 55b, Soncino Press Edition, cf. Baba Metzia 38b

Regardless of the difference in the word, the meaning is the same. It is impossible for a camel or a rope to go through the eye of a needle without being stripped bare to the size of a thread.

Luke 18:26
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”

Luke 18:27
But he said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

According to the Midrash, a small amount of effort toward repentance or mitzvot is likened to the eye of a needle – through which HaShem can make the impossible, possible:

” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: ‘My sons, present to me an opening of repentance no bigger than the eye of a needle, and I will widen it into openings through which wagons and carriages can pass.”
Song of Songs Rabbah 5:3, Soncion Press Edition

Luke 18:28
Peter said, “Look, we have left everything, and followed you.”

Luke 18:29
He said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake,

Luke 18:30
who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:31
He took the twelve aside, and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed.

Luke 18:32
For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on.

Luke 18:33
They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again.”

Luke 18:34
They understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not understand the things that were said.

Luke 18:35
It happened, as he came near Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the road, begging.

This is likely the same incident recorded in Mark 10. Though some scholars, like John Gill, say this was a different blind man, based on the reading that Yeshua healed this man while he approached Jericho, and healed Bar Timai as he was leaving Jericho. However, read Mark 10 closely,

“They came to Jericho. As he went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road.”
Mark 10:46

This interpretation that these are two different incidents is unnecessary. Yeshua healed the man as he left Jericho, but in his overall journey healed him as he came near Jericho. There is no contradiction, it is simply a matter of perspective.

Luke 18:36
Hearing a multitude going by, he asked what this meant.

Luke 18:37
They told him that Yeshua of Nazareth was passing by.

Luke 18:38
He cried out, “Yeshua, you son of David, have mercy on me!

The term “Son of David” is a title for the Messiah.

Luke 18:39
Those who led the way rebuked him, that he should be quiet. But he cried out all the more, “You son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:40
Standing still, Yeshua commanded him to be brought to him. When he had come near, he asked him,

Luke 18:41
“What do you want me to do?” He said, “Lord, that I may see again.”

Luke 18:42
Yeshua said to him, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.”

Luke 18:43
Immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, praised God.


  1. Never Give Up! Breslov Center
  2. Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, A Childish Understanding of the Torah,
  3. Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber and Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich, Why Jews Fast,