Let My People Know

"The essential task of our existence in this world is sorting out, selecting, and separating"


When the Sages speak of the "Duration of the Exile," what is meant is not only the historic period of Jewish exile from the Holy Land, but the state of the whole world until the Redemption. 

It is the time of sorting out the evil and separating it from the good. 

From this we may gather that the essential task of our existence in this world is the work of "Berurim," sorting out, selecting, and separating.

This work is (kabbalistically) of the aspect of Chochmah, or Wisdom. 

How else is it to be accomplished? 

"By Chochmah shall you distinguish" (Zohar). 

Hence wisdom is also called judgment, since in every choice there is value discrimination and definition of limits.

But definition of limits is of another order of Attributes: it is Binah, or Understanding. 

Chochmah is the initial light of recognition, the original point of departure by which something may be grasped. 

Binah is the comprehension of what is grasped, that which makes it real. 

Chochmah is intuitive and immediate, Binah is rational and analytical.
Chochmah is of the aspect of vision, Binah is of the aspect of hearing.

What is the difference between seeing and hearing? 

Someone tells me about a person and I thus hear about him; I then happen to see him in person. 

The act of seeing is a different kind of connection; it seems the more "real." 

Seeing, like Wisdom, is a total grasp of what is revealed.

Hearing, like Binah, tends to be a more distinct perception of limited scope. 

In many respects, then, Chochmah is the key to things, positioned on the border between the conscious and the unconscious, while the mind, or the intelligent reason, may be identified with Binah.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From In the Beginning,  "Banishment from Eden," p. 88, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz