Wisdom Excels over Folly

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96) “And I saw that wisdom excels over folly.” I looked in several places in the words of King Solomon, and I observed his great wisdom, where he concealed his words inside the holy palace. Why did he say, “And I saw”? Do the rest of the people in the world not know and do they not see it? After all, even one who has never known wisdom and has never observed it knows that wisdom excels over folly as light excels over darkness. And he praises himself and says, “And I saw.”

97) However, we learn that there is none so wise as Solomon, who was called by seven degrees of wisdom, such as above, opposite HGT NHYM de Malchut, which is the lower Hochma, the degree of Solomon. There are six days above, HGT NHY de ZA, and the seventh one above them is Bina. The six days below, in Malchut, are HGT NHY, and the seventh one above them is Bina. There are six degrees to Solomon’s throne, and he is on the throne, as it is written, “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king.” There are seven Keters of days above, which are seven Sefirot HGT NHYM. Opposite them are the seven names of Solomon, to show the holy wisdom in them. This is why he is called by seven names: Solomon, Jedidiah, Agur, Son of Jakeh, Lemuel, Ithiel, and Koheleth.

98) He said seven vanities. “Hevel Havalim [Vanity of vanities], says Koheleth; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” There are three times vanity here, and two times vanities, which are four, and together they are seven. And what did he see that no other person saw. When he collected the wisdom and rose in the degree of Hochma [wisdom], he was called Koheleth. He said the seven vanities opposite the seven Sefirot above, and each vanity was made into a voice, and the world exists only on vanity, the seven vanities ZAT of YESHSUT. These are essentially the left line de YESHSUT from before the deciding from the middle line, which unites the right and left. Also, the illumination of the left is considered vanity, affliction, and ill spirit. After the unification through the middle line, it is seven vanities from which ZA is emanated, and it is called “a voice,” and the world exists from them.

99) Hevel [vanity, but also fume from exhaling] is left line. It produces a voice with the wind and water in it, in the mingling of right line, called “water,” and the middle line, called “wind.” There is no voice except in Hevel. And in the seven vanities, which are HGT NHYM de YESHSUT, the Upper Ones—ZON—exist, as well as the lower ones—the dwellers of BYA. Thus, the world exists on Hevel. Without the Hevel coming out of a person’s mouth, he would not be able to exist for even an hour.

100) A person cannot exist without the Hevel of his mouth. Solomon said his words, by which the world lives, and he said that by that, the world persists. And this Hevel, by which the world persists, comes from the Havalim above, as it is written, “Vanity of vanities,” meaning vanity from the vanities above. All his words were so. It is written concerning the vanities above, that man is according to what comes out of the mouth of the Creator. What comes out of the mouth of the Creator is the vanities above, ZAT de YESHSUT.

101) “And I saw that wisdom excels over folly.” The benefit for the wisdom comes from the very folly, for if there had not been folly in the world, wisdom and its words would not have been known. And we learned that it is mandatory for a man who learned wisdom to learn a little bit of the folly and to know it, for it is for that that wisdom has come, just as there is benefit to light from darkness, for without darkness, light would not have been known and no benefit would come from it.

102) There is advantage to wisdom, for it contains upper wisdom and wisdom of this world. The upper wisdom does not shine and is not illuminated, except for a folly that has awakened from another place. Were it not for this folly, there would not be the light and the great and excessive pride, and the benefit from wisdom would not be seen. And because of the folly, the wisdom shines more and it is shone upon more, as it was said, that wisdom excels over folly both above and below because this is how it is below. If there weren’t folly in the world, there would not be wisdom in the world.

103) When the friends learned the secrets of the wisdom from Rav Hamnuna Saba, he would set up before them chapters of words of folly, so as to yield benefit for them from wisdom, as it is written, “A little folly is weightier than wisdom and honor.” This is so because folly is the correction of wisdom and weightier than wisdom, which is why it is written, “And my heart conducting itself with wisdom, how yet to lay hold on folly.”

104) “Weightier than wisdom and honor” refers to the weight of wisdom and its beauty. And what is the weight of the honor of above, which is Malchut? It is a little folly. This is because a little folly shows and reveals the weight of wisdom and the honor of above more than any other way in the world.

105) “As light excels over darkness.” The benefit of the light comes only out of the darkness. The correction of the white is black, for without the black, the white would be pointless. And because there is black, the white is elevated and respected. It is like sweet and bitter. A person cannot know the taste of sweetness before he has tasted bitterness. Thus, what makes it sweet is the bitter.

In things where there are opposites, the one reveals the other, such as in white and black, light and darkness, sick and healthy. If there were no sickness in the world, the term healthy would be unattainable, as it is written, “God has made the one opposite the other.” And it is also written, “It is good that you grasp the one, and also not let go of the other.”

What does King Solomon tell us with the words, “And I saw that wisdom excels over folly as light excels over darkness”? After all, who does not know it? To answer that, he brought the explanation of the seven vanities that he said in Koheleth. There are two discernments in Hevel:

  1. When it is in the form of the left line without unification with the right. Even though at that time, GAR de Hochma shines in it, it is still considered Hevel and affliction, Hevel and ill spirit. This is so because when it is separated to itself, without the right, it is Hochma without Hassadim, and then it is darkness and not light. Moreover, harsh judgments extend from there, for which it is considered Hevel and ill spirit.
  2. When it is united with the right through the middle line. This determines between right and left, where the right, Hassadim, shines from above downwards, and the left, Hochma shines from below upwards, which is VAK de Hochma. At that time the Hochma of the left clothes in Hassadim of the right. From here stem all the Mochin of ZON and BYA, and all the worlds persist on this Hevel.

The seven vanities are the seven Sefirot de YESHSUT, each of which consists of Hevel, wind, and water, since all the Mochin of the upper ones, which are ZON, and the lower ones, in the three worlds BYA, come out of these vanities. It turns out that even though at that time the left line in and of itself has GAR de GAR, it does not shine at all. On the contrary, it is Hevel and affliction. And when it unites with the right, although it consequently diminishes into VAK de Hochma and lacks GAR de Hochma, all the worlds persist from it.

It is written, “And I saw that wisdom excels over folly as light excels over darkness.” In three things are wisdom and folly akin to light and darkness:

  1. If there were no darkness, there would be no advantage to the light and there would be no concept of calling it by that name. Likewise, were it not for folly, there would be no advantage to wisdom, for us to call it by that name. On the contrary, we would call it vanity and affliction.
  1. Even though without the darkness we would have no perception in the light, it does not mean that the light would be an actual reality without it, but only that we would not have the concept in and of itself, to define it by a name. So is wisdom: even though without folly it would be unattainable, it does not mean that there would be no wisdom in reality at all. Moreover, at that time there is wisdom, since when it is without any folly, the GAR de Hochma [wisdom] shine. And yet, it would not be attained in the definition of wisdom.
  2. As a dark place is one without light, a place without wisdom is one with folly.

Now we can understand the whole essay. We said that before the left line unites with the right, it has GAR de Hochma, but they do not shine and they are considered Hevel and affliction. Only later, when it is included in the right line through the middle line is it completed and all the Mochin in the world extend from it. However, it loses the GAR de Hochma due to the sentencing of the middle line that the right will shine from above downwards, and the left, which is Hochma, will shine from below upwards.

The illumination from below upwards is illumination of VAK de Hochma, which lacks GAR. And it has been explained above, in the third comparison between wisdom and light, that where there is lack of wisdom there is folly, as where there is lack of light there is darkness. It turns out that after the unification of the left line with the right there is folly in the left, in the place of the lack of GAR. Thus, prior to its unification with the right, even though it was not shining, the presence of wisdom in the left line—in the second comparison—was without folly, since then the left line was in GAR de Hochma. Now, however, when it lacks GAR de Hochma, there is folly opposite it.

The absence of GAR de Hochma that was done after the unification of right and left is considered folly. However, out of this folly appeared the illumination of Hochma [wisdom] to the worlds. This is so because prior to the unification, when it was without folly, Hochma was dark, and did not shine. But now Hochma is shining in its fullest perfection due to the folly, since it has been diminished from GAR and can unite with the Hassadim on the right. Thus, folly, which is the absence of GAR, reveals the VAK de Hochma so it may shine in whole. And had there not been folly, there would not have been wisdom.

And had folly not awakened from the diminution of GAR, but remained as GAR de Hochma in the left line and would not unite with the right, Hochma would not have shone and would have been dark. Then, all those great Mochin would not have been revealed to the worlds.

A man who extends the upper Hochma must also pull his hands away from extending GAR and Hochma. And even though folly appears in a place of absence of Hochma, instead, he learns wisdom out of this folly. In other words, the wisdom he obtains is through this folly, which he does not touch, and which is therefore not considered actual folly but a speck of folly, sufficient to learn and to know the wisdom that shines.

Thus, we learn from it how to extend the wisdom that shines, and it arranges for them that they do not draw the Hochma in the chapters of GAR de Hochma, since at that time, folly appears in those chapters and teaches them that benefit will come from this folly to the wisdom that shines. As long as GAR de Hochma illuminated and there was no speck of folly, the Hochma was Hevel and ill spirit, without wisdom and without honor. But now that the left has been united with the right, even though there is a little folly due to the absence of GAR de Hochma, for that, she shines with much glory and elegance. This is because one who attains it is rewarded with wisdom and honor, as it is written, “And my heart conducting itself with wisdom,” VAK de Hochma. “Yet to lay hold on folly” means to not extend GAR de Hochma, as it is written, “It is good that you grasp the one,” meaning wisdom, “And do not let go of the other,” meaning hold on to the folly of the absence of GAR de Hochma, as well.

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