Devarim – Deuteronomy – Deut. 1:1-3:22 (Jul. 16/17)

As the Torah Turns

Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah

Devarim – Deuteronomy – Deut. 1:1-3:22 (Jul. 16/17)

This week we begin the book of Devarim – Deuteronomy – Deut. 1:1-3:22.  Moses begins his series of orations to the people of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land.  He begins with recalling the past forty years, starting with Sinai, and reminds the people that he could not lead them alone and without help, saying: “Pick from each of your tribes people who are wise, insightful, and seasoned…” (Deut. 1:13)  And they did.  What does it mean to be wise?  Is it insight?  Good judgement? Common sense?  An orderly and balanced sense? The Mishnah (Pirke Avot 5:9) teaches – 

A fool and a sage both have seven traits:

The wise never speak before the wiser.

They do not interrupt their companions;

they are not afraid to reply;

they ask to the point and reply as they should;

they speak of first things first and last things last.

If they have not heard they say I have not heard.

They acknowledge the truth.

The reverse is true of fools.

And Rabbi Chaim Stern teaches, in Day By Day – his collection of daily insights on the weekly Torah portion; this one in preparation for Shabbat:

How can I be at rest when I am jumping to conclusions?  Keep me from knowing before I know, from arriving before I get there; teach me that I must earn my wisdom by attending to my experience; and although the only experience I can have is my own, show me how to learn from the experience of others, and thus make it my own.

Perhaps true wisdom is balance, humility, learning from one’s own experiences, being open to new experiences, and always seeking to learn more.

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