Who is wise?

Friday, 21 October, 2022 - 6:39 am

“Who is wise? He who discerns what is about to come to pass.” That is how the Gemara in tractate Tamid (32a) defines the wise person. In its simple meaning, this saying means that the wise person who can analyze situations can foresee the outcome of any situation.

The inner aspect of the Torah (the Pnimiyut, as it is known) gives this aphorism another, different meaning – almost the opposite: the truly wise person is not the one who foresees the future, but rather one who sees the past, namely, the supreme spiritual root of what is in this world; by identifying that root, he can know every creature’s complete and true essence.

How is all this connected to Parashat Bereishit? Adam HaRishon named the  creatures according to their essence. For instance, he identified the root of the ox with the “face of the ox” that is part of the Merkava (the Heavenly chariot) described in the book of Yechezkel. (This is a Kabbalistic concept based on the visions of the prophet Yechezkel, who saw the chariot of the Alm-ghty, and on it the faces of various animals – a lion, an eagle, an ox and a human being.) Similarly, he identified the root of the lion with the “face of the lion” that appears in the Merkava, etc.

The Rebbe explains the Adam HaRishon not only gave the creatures names, but by the very fact that he provided a material creature, made of flesh and blood, with a name from the spiritual realms, he was the first to connect the upper worlds with our lower, material world.

We are all descendants of Adam HaRishon, and we all inherited from him this wonderful ability to connect the upper and lower worlds. This, indeed, is also our role in the world – to bring holiness and spirituality to the material and the mundane, to refine it and to infuse it with holiness.

How does one do this? By doing Mitzvahs and good deeds. How simple…


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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