In his weekly Torah lecture, broadcast on Arutz Sheva, venerable Torah sage Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan and member of Israel’s Rabbinic Council, discussed the connection between Passover and recent calls to create a Palestinian Authority state east of the 1948 armistice line and to uproot the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the area.
Rabbi Ariel began by talking about the four sons mentioned during the Passover seder. The first son is the wise son, the second one is wicked.
The wise and wicked sons are treated as two separate types, despite the fact that wisdom and character are normally thought to be unrelated, he noted. A genius can be evil, and someone lacking sharpness of mind can be righteous.
However, Rabbi Ariel said, that is taking a Western view of intelligence, in which the head and heart are treated as two separate things, and a person’s character is treated as separate from his intelligence. In Judaism, “chochma,” usually translated to mean intelligence or wisdom, means wisdom of the heart – someone who not only has intelligence, but who lives intelligently, by translating his intellect into good deeds.
An evil person is stupid by definition in Judaism, because if he were truly smart, he would act accordingly, according to Rabbi Ariel.
This concept is also made clear by the connection between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot, he noted. Passover is the holiday of spring, when the trees blossom, and Shavuot is the holiday on which the first fruits are ripe. The two are connected by the counting of the Omer. As the Passover blossoms are given meaning by their transformation to fruits, so too intellect receives meaning only through its translation to good deeds.
The Jewish concept of wisdom and stupidity can be used to explain recent support among left-wing self-styled intellectual Israelis for the establishment of a PA state, despite PA support for terrorism and attacks on Israel, he continued.
“That is clear by what happened this week, the event in Tel Aviv where several dozen leftist Jewish intellectuals declared an independent state for our neighbors who are also our enemies,” he recalled. “The media emphasized the fact that among them were 12 or 13 Israel Prize winners. Artists, poets, intellectuals…”
They succeeded in garnering disporportionate media coverage, so that the public may be impressed by the fact that Israeli “wise men” support a PA state, he said. However, “Judaism does not consider this wisdom. ‘Intelligence’ that does not include moral wisdom, is not intelligence.”
“True wisdom is wisdom of the heart,” Rabbi Ariel continued. Among the cornerstones of true intelligence are faith and values, he said, and the ability to connect to the people and not live in an “ivory tower.”
Anyone who cuts themself off from Israeli reality and supports giving a state to murderers lacks true, Jewish intelligence, he concluded.
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