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The Standard by which to Evaluate a Wisdom
The value of any wisdom in the world is according to the purpose that it yields. This is the goal to which all the scrutinies aim. Therefore, a wisdom without some purpose is inconceivable except for infants playing games, since to pass the time they come and this is their purpose, according to their value. For this reason, a wisdom is not evaluated by keenness and proficiency, but according to the merit of the purpose that it yields.
You therefore find that any external wisdom is only for the purpose of corporeality, which is sure to be gone today or tomorrow. In that case, it is sufficient for the subject to be as the predicate.
And although the wisdom has many advantages over these subjects, for wherever it is, it is nonetheless a spiritual element, but we have already said that it is evaluated by the purpose, which is its persistence for eternity. And if the purpose is transitory and fleeting, it is lost along with it.
Now we have a standard by which to gauge the significance of the wisdom of Israel compared to an external wisdom. It concerns only the understanding of the ways of the Creator over His creations and adhering to Him. It follows that the very essence of this wisdom relies on the Creator. And because the importance of the Creator compared to His creations, which He has created, is inconceivable, the merit of the wisdom of Israel compared to external wisdoms is also inconceivable.
And because the very essence of our wisdom is ever valid and eternal, our entire wisdom will also remain eternal. And because it concerns favoring approaching the Creator, which is the finest goal that can ever be perceived, one who engages in it, and certainly one who is rewarded with it, is the finest of the finest among the speaking species.
Fools Have No Desire
But fools have no desire. Therefore, the house of Israel are few, as our sages have written, “A thousand people commence with the Bible [Torah], a hundred with the Mishnah, ten with the Talmud, and one of them comes out (to teach).”
“I saw the children of the ascent, and they are few.” There are many reasons for it. But the main one is that all who begin with it wish to taste it in full, and the smallest of the measures of those fools is to at least know the righteousness of His guidance.
There is a sort of a must to know, and it can be made known, according to the spirit of the fool. But “What shall we do to our sister in the day when she is spoken for”? After all, our wisdom can be interpreted in every way, except for the way of the stomach, for the subjects of this wisdom do not need the way of the stomach. This is what we wanted to clarify, and we shall clarify it in a separate essay, for it is the beginning of the confusion and its end.
You Shall Live a Sorrowful Life
Go and see, and you will find that there is one prerequisite to every wisdom, even to external wisdoms: “Live a sorrowful life.” It is a well-known thing that anyone who has merited the title “sage” disparages every worldly pleasure. According to the measure of the abstention that one’s soul chooses to tolerate due to the affliction of pursuing the wisdom, to that very extent does one find it.
Thus, we should ask one question regarding all the sages in the world together: Every love emerges from one’s own flesh and self, and returns to one’s own self and flesh. Thus, how do all the sages fail in loving wisdom, whose beginning and end is nothing but the labor of the flesh?
Indeed, any experienced person knows that the greatest of all the world’s imaginable pleasures is to win people’s favor. Obtaining this coveted thing is worth making every effort and worldly concession. This is the magnet to which the finest in every generation are drawn, and for which they trivialize the whole of the worldly life.
Also, each wisdom comes with its own terminology, whose progenitors have established and by which they explained their wishes. That language is a mediator—close to the wisdom itself and close to the ones engaging in it—since there is a great advantage to it in that it uses few words to explain many things.
The Carriers of the Wisdom of Truth, and the Carriers of an External Wisdom
According to the merit of the wisdom of truth, it is evident that the prerequisite that applies to any wisdom applies to it, as well, namely to disparage worldly life. But in addition to that is the need to disparage the collective magnet—people’s favor.
An external sage disparages worldly life in order to be saved from wasting one’s precious time on obtaining it. Such is the case with all the fools—due to their fondness of worldly life, they waste their time on it. The sage is saved from them like a fugitive due to his choice to ridicule worldly life. In return for this he will obtain wisdom during that same time.
By that you can deduce regarding the sages of truth, that as long as they do not disparage the collective magnet—winning people’s favor—they are not at all ready to attain this wisdom. That person will waste the time on winning people’s favor and will as the fools who waste their time on worldly life. Such a person’s heart is not free to attain a pure and clean wisdom, and is unfit to win the Creator’s favor, and this is simple.
Now you can understand why our wisdom was undesirable to people in the world, and why they do not regard it even as an inferior wisdom. They are mistaken because of the different subjects, for the whole purpose of external wisdom is to win people’s favor. Therefore, they exert to cloak their wisdom with a superficial garment that even the fools will accept, since they are the majority, and they are the ones who make every famous person famous.
Concealing the Wisdom of Truth from the Fools
But the sages of truth had no interest in showing part of the wisdom to an extent that the fools will accept, since these fools have no desire. I wish to say that even if the sages of the generation strove to educate them about the truth so they would accept it, still, not because of that will they commence with the Torah.
The fool has no desire unless by the revealing of his heart and matters that are close to him, namely that relate to worldly pleasures. I have already explained that the fool does not remain in folly due to his loathing of the wisdom, but due to his nearness to people’s delights, for his whole life will not suffice to satisfy half his wishes. For this reason, he has no time for wisdom, even if he likes it, and even if the sages who are famous in external wisdoms were regarded as fools and worldly compared to this wisdom due to their nearness to winning people’s favor, which in relation to this wisdom is tantamount to worldly lusts and bodily satiations.
Our Sages Did Not Disclose Development from the Wisdom of Truth
Because of it, our sages did not disclose to the fools any development from the wisdom of truth, for it is a great offense, as our sages said, “As one is commanded to say what is heard, one is also commanded not to say what is not heard.” And it is also written in The Zohar in many places: “Woe if I say; woe if I do not say. If I say, the unworthy will know how to serve their master,” etc. Because of the importance of the wisdom—to avoid needlessly making it empty words in the mouths of the fools, as those who are fed by the passion of their hearts will not be nourished by the brightness of the Shechina [Divinity] for certain, as our sages said, “All whose heart is proud,” etc.
This is the reason why each time the wicked Malchut spreads over the generation—our holy Torah is promptly sentenced to be burned, as has happened to us several times, and even in our generation. It was so because they had loathed the wisdom of His uniqueness, which is always sour in the eyes of the fools, as I have explained that they do not find any purpose in it by which to satisfy their foul lusts. On the contrary, they are robbed because of it, for they cannot enjoy, and they do not enjoy the incest in public—the only thing that pacifies their hearts.
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