Wise & Foolish

by tillerofthesoil

Matejko_Stańczyk“Rabbi Giddal said in Rav’s name: Any disciple of the wise who sits before his Rav and his lips do not drip bitterness [from dread (Rashi)] they shall be burnt, for it is said, his lips are lilies dripping myrrh (Song of Songs 5:13). Do not read מוֹר עֹבֵר (mor over), dripping myrrh, but מַר עֹבֵר (mar over), dripping bitterness; do not read שׁוֹשַׁנִּים (shoshanim), lillies, but rather שֶׁשׁוֹנִּים (she-shonim), that repeat [i.e., the lips of those who study drip bitterness]? There is no difficulty: the former applies to the Rav; the latter to the disciple. Alternatively, both refer to the Rav, yet there is no difficulty: the one means before he commences; the other, after he commences. Like the case of Rabbah, who before he opened [his lesson] for the Rabbis used to say a joking word and the Rabbis were amused; after that he sat in trepidation and began the lesson” (BT Shabbat 30b).

“It has been taught: It is incumbent upon a person who studies wisdom to study some foolishness and know it, because thereby wisdom derives benefitjust as light derives some benefit from darkness, for were it not for darkness, light would not be recognized and the world would gain no benefit from it… This may be compared to sweet with bitter, for a person does not know the taste of sweet until he tastes bitter. What makes this sweet? You must admit, bitter. This corresponds to what is written: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:47b).

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