Let My People Know

"The one who thinks that he knows beforehand what is coming can learn less than the wise"


We tend to distinguish between the wise person and the person with understanding as though the latter, the understanding one, was the humanly preferable, being able to distinguish one thing from another, being more discriminating and more subtle than the wise who are able only to grasp the totality of things or to shed light on the obscure and the complex. 

From this one might deduce that the wise man is essentially passive and that it is the understanding man who possesses the double capacity of the active mind to grasp and to create. 

Indeed, we may observe that many a sage merely sees the truth, absorbs it, and gives it a certain abstract reality, whereas the understanding person is able to deal with the reality, to give it a variety of forms and to create new, practical realities as a result. 

In order to absorb truth, a person has to be passive and to realize wisdom as a potential power. 

He has to be like Moses.

The one who thinks that he knows beforehand what is coming can learn less than the wise. 

That is to say, the one who has already absorbed a great deal can absorb that much less of the new. 

No one is so dense that he cannot absorb anything at all, but there is a relationship between the readiness to receive and the capacity to absorb new things. 

The one who at the time of receiving feels a strong urge to say something, even in response, is absorbing that much less.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Long Shorter Way, Capter 3, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz