The Torah passages and Israel's holidays are full of important messages that are relevant and empower our day-today lives. Rabbi Shai Tahan, head of the Sha'arei Ezra community and head of the Arzi HaLebanon teaching house, opens the gates for us to understand these messages, from their source, in a clear way. This week -Ramaswamy's Ambitious Vision Meets Humility: Navigating Endless Wisdom.
In last week's Republican presidential debate, a dynamic young entrepreneur by the name of Vivek Ramaswamy, aged 38, captured the spotlight with his compelling promises of forthcoming changes should he be elected. While other candidates questioned his experience and grasp of fundamental political knowledge, Ramaswamy remained resolute, advancing his points with charisma and a persistent smile. His performance led many to perceive him as the standout of the debate.
At the conclusion of Parashat Ki Tavo, Moses Rabenu delivers a rebuke to the nation, asserting that now, after 40 years in the desert, they have begun to grasp the teachings and instructions that Hashem has imparted to them. Rashi draws a parallel to a student who only comprehends his teacher's lessons after four decades of learning. Naturally, this does not imply that the nation now fully comprehends Hashem's profound wisdom, but rather signifies that after 40 years, an individual reaches a level of maturity where they recognize the vast expanse of their own lack of understanding.
In essence, acknowledging our lack of understanding marks a significant achievement, as it opens the door to learning. Conversely, when someone believes they possess exhaustive knowledge, they inadvertently stifle their own potential for growth.
The Mishna in Avot (5,21) expounds on the stages of maturity based on a person's age. For instance, it stipulates that at the age of 18, an individual is considered prepared for marriage. Upon reaching 20, one is deemed ready for pursuing various life endeavors. When attaining the age of 30, an individual is seen as having gained the strength and authority (koach) to lead. Upon reaching 40, a person is said to attain "bina," which is elucidated by the sages as profound and deep understanding. This "bina" implies a comprehension that goes beyond surface-level knowledge.
During periods of immaturity, individuals often fall into the trap of presuming they possess all-encompassing knowledge. Consider the example of a child who staunchly believes they comprehend matters superiorly to their parents across all domains. This tendency stems from an immature mindset. Chazal, (our sages), impart the wisdom that around the age of 40, a person begins to recognize the existence of depths beyond superficial appearances.
When observing a young individual of merely 38 years confidently asserting their capacity to govern a global powerhouse like the United States, it serves as a conspicuous marker of their failure to grasp the complexities at play. Such a display accentuates the contrast between their assurance and the intricate details involved in the undertaking.
The lesson to be gleaned from this is that we too must guard against harboring an inflated sense of knowing everything. Instead, we should cultivate humility, allowing our hearts and minds to remain receptive. It is essential to recognize that Hashem possesses an inexhaustible wellspring of wisdom, and we should continually seek to tap into this profound knowledge.
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel