Some years ago I wrote a blog post on this week’s Torah Portion. It started with:
“One of the rarest of people are those who learn to fully and totally repent, especially where this has involved a reversal of character.
If you are a strong, independent and very capable individual it is perhaps even harder to recognize your error, to recognize when you have wronged someone (and hence, in a sense, the Almighty, because all are made in His image). Sometimes we even need some serious help – see for example the story of King David in 2 Samuel 12.
Implicit in the whole Bible is the idea that one man’s sin however small, affects the entire word, however imperceptibly.
On the bigger scale we have the famous Jewish saying, based on the story of Cain and Abel and the ‘blood’ being plural in Hebrew (‘the bloods of your brother cry out from the ground’), that states that: “Save a man; save a world. Destroy a man; destroy a world“
This also lead to the Jewish appreciation that a wise man must give his wisdom to the community in the same way a man blessed with wealth/riches should also do so. Put simply, it is a sin not to serve – all have talents; all are called to use those talents to help repair or better the world (Tikkun HaOlam).” – from https://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/12/21/the-rarity-of-repentance/
We see the Apostle Paul reflecting the argument that we all have talents to share in his famous 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 proclamation.
But what of wealth and wisdom?
Who is wealthy? Surely it’s relative in terms of the community the ‘wealthy’ person is part of, and even then there are degrees of wealth.
Who is wise?
Again, wisdom is relative and comes through the application of knowledge over time – all people as they age have time, but not all devote it to gaining knowledge and applying that knowledge and hence gaining much wisdom.
What about humility is considering your talents?
The humble person is he/she who walks faithfully before God, aware of both his frailty before his Maker, but also the great gift of life, of humanity, of the power to love, to create, to grow and experience joy that has been bestowed on all of us.
Perhaps part of the challenge for all who seek to be involved in Tikkun haOlam is to both act and use the gifts bestowed whether wisdom or wealth or whatever, but also through humility, to recognize the limits of these gifts and not overstep the mark.
As someone who has many years of seeking knowledge and trying to act wisely with it, I am also very much aware that my wisdom is still limited, especially given the vastness and complexity of the Creator and His Creation.
I was reminded of this when reading an article about Isaac Newton’s theological studies and again seeing the famous quote he made to himself as his life was drawing to its close, that he seemed only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, ‘and diverting myself’, he said, ‘in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me ’.
Intriguingly, despite the world applying this remark to his scientific endeavours, given that the great majority of his time, especially after the age of 24 was spent in studying theology, especially Judaica, it would seem more appropriate to see him reflecting on his studies of the Almighty, the God of Israel in this manner.
As I have often stated to senior students who excel academically that if they wish to find areas to really test their intellectual abilities then my top four for consideration would be the study of Genetics/DNA; Neuro/Cognitive-Science; frontier Physics and greatest of all, Theology!
While the brain is the most complex creation in the Universe, surely the greater intellectual challenge is to study the Creator, not just His Creation?
So I offer through my books, my articles and blog posts and even my videos a little of my wisdom in the hope that I can share in Tikkun haOlam (Repairing the World), or as I shared in the Amazing Grace article ‘building the world with grace’ (Psalms 89:2). – http://circumcisedheart.info/Amazing%20Grace.pdf