I’ve always wanted to be wise. Even before I have set my heart to follow Ha-Melech Ha-melachim (The King of Kings), I have craved wisdom. I blame my grandmother for it really, because she kept reading to us from The Scriptures and I got stuck with Shlomo Ha-Melech (King Solomon), that he became the wisest man that ever lived and in my childish mind I thought “I want me some of that!”
Little did I know, it doesn’t work like that. But I had to begin somewhere, so I started at the start. (I am aware of the brilliance in my wording but pretend you haven’t noticed and move on.)
I think that by choosing to walk in His footsteps, one attains the beginning of wisdom as it is written:
Techilat chochmah yirat HaShem v’daat kedoshim binah.The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy ones (saints) is insight. – Mishlei/ Proverbs 9:10
I’ve done all I could to attain it, but I ended up with some daat (knowledge) and not much chochmah (wisdom). And I thought, “Well, this is no fun. I am no wiser then when I began!” But I am not one to give up (except for the times when I do give up), so I continued looking for wisdom.
In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) chapter 4 verse 1, Rabbi Ben Zoma asks four questions, but I shall focus on the first:
“Who is wise? One who learns from every man…”
Now I understand that when I quote the Talmud or a Rabbi, some Christians feel it a little hard to swallow because they have their mind made up about what they think the Talmud is all about, but I imagine it’s the same for Jews when I quote Yeshua or anything that has to do with Shaul HaShaliach‘s ( Apostle Paul) teachings. But you tolerate it well enough, because here you are, still reading, and for that I commend you.
I have prayed for wisdom all my life and B’ezrat HaShem (with God’s help) I will continue to pray for it until the day I die.
Yaakov (James) says in his book in chapter 1 verse 5:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
In the Babylonian Talmud, Niddah 70b, people go Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya and they ask what should they do to acquire chochmah (wisdom) and The Rabbi tells them that they should study more and concern themselves less with the earthly matters. They answer him that many have done so and still don’t have chochmah. Rabbi Yehoshua then instructed “pray for wisdom from Him to whom is the wisdom, for it is said, For HaShem giveth wisdom, out of His mouth cometh knowledge and discernment.”
So I prayed. And one day I believe I will be wise, because HaShem is not one to make promises in vain.
Still, this is not a post about how I became wise. Those who know me in real life can give you plenty of examples of instances when I exhibited anything but wisdom, so it would be pointless for me to claim that.
Knowledge is not hard to find especially in this day and age. It’s available for everyone and there is no excuse for ignorance in most cases.
Knowledge is great and I’m all for it. Up until the point where that knowledge becomes arrogance.
Simone Weill said, that “The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell.”
I know a few people that I admire to the point of envy for their intelligence, knowledge and wisdom and I am blessed to have them in my life. But I am also less blessed to know a few people that have a little bit more knowledge than those that surround them and for that they think they have the key to the universe when in fact their arguments are infantile at best.
But Rabbi Solomon Ibn Gabriol said, "The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others." So I keep quiet for the most part.
Like I said, I am all for knowledge and I don’t see how wisdom would work without it, but “arrogance is knowledge without wisdom.” (Celso Cukierkorn)
Knowledge puffs one up if it lacks wisdom and humility. It’s sad to witness a spectacle of ‘who’s more right?’ among believers when even the question they try to answer is ridiculous. That coupled with a pinch of arrogance, like “don’t tell me! I have studied this and this and this”, just makes me want to scream OMG, shut up!
I know that’s not very nice of me to say but to quote Shaul (Paul) “I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!” – 2 Corinthians 11:1
I wish some of my brothers would find it in their hearts to pray for wisdom. I might not be wise yet, but I can spot an unwise person from miles away. Maybe because it takes one to know one, I can’t be sure, but the point is I can spot them and I want to run.
“There are certain character traits which a person is forbidden to accustom himself in, even in moderation. Rather, he must distance himself to the opposite extreme. One such trait is haughtiness. For the ideal path is not that one be humble alone; he must be lowly of spirit, and exceedingly unassuming. Likewise it is said of Moses that he was “very humble” (Numbers 12:3) — not merely humble.One conceited in his heart has denied HaShem, as the verse states: “Lest your heart grows haughty and you forget Adonai your Elohim” (Deut. 8:14; Talmud Sotah 4b).”
In Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8 there is a warning, that when one reaches the land and everything seems to work great there, and one is blessed, one shouldn’t forget Adonai. In verses 17-18 it says,
“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power…”
When you reach a certain understanding and you might feel inclined to believe that your own intelligence and great knowledge has brought you thus far, remember who gave you that wisdom.
Yeshua was Adonai’s beloved Son, and yet “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” -Philippians 2:6-8
Yeshua said, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” There is no pride in that statement.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Even if you could speak flawless Hebrew and Greek and could re-translate the Scriptures ‘accurately’ and have human and divine interpretations for The Scriptures and you have no love, no kindness towards your brothers, I applaud you, but it means nothing. If you could gain all knowledge and memorize the entire Scriptures and quote it better than anyone and you would have the faith to match it, but have no love… it means nothing.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. - James 3:13-18
Bat Melech בת מלך