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All Giving All for Wisdom - jonahrank
All Giving All for Wisdom
In Massekhet Sotah 21b, I read with Gabe Seed the following excerpt tonight:

אומר בן עזאי חייב אדם ללמד את וכו' ר' אליעזר אומר כל המלמד את בתו תורה מלמדה תיפלות:
The Mishnah taught: Ben Azzai taught that men were obligated to teach Torah to their daughters. Rabbi Eliezer taught that anyone who teaches his daughter Torah is teaching her indecency.

תיפלות ס"ד אלא אימא כאילו למדה תיפלות
The Talmud teaches: "Indecency!?" I would think rather that--and I'd say--"is similar to having taught her indecency!"

א"ר אבהו מ"ט דר"א דכתיב (משלי ח) אני חכמה שכנתי ערמה כיון שנכנסה חכמה באדם נכנסה עמו ערמומית
Rabbi Abbahu taught: What's the reasoning of Rabbi Eliezer? It is written in Proverbs 8:12, "I, Wisdom, live with Ormah (Prudence)." When wisdom enters a person, Armumit (shrewdness) enters alongside it.

ורבנן האי אני חכמה מאי עבדי ליה מיבעי ליה לכדרבי יוסי בר' חנינא דא"ר יוסי בר' חנינא אין
דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שמעמיד עצמו ערום עליהן שנאמר אני חכמה שכנתי ערמה
But our rabbis teach: This passage of "I, Wisdom..."--how does it play out? It must be interpreted in accordance with Rabbi Yosey in the name of Rabbi Chaninah. For Rabbi Yosey taught in the name of Rabbi Chaninah: The words of Torah can only exist in a person who stands one's self up arum (naked) upon the words of Torah because it is said "I, Wisdom, live with Ormah."

א"ר יוחנן אין דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שמשים עצמו כמי שאינו שנאמר (איוב כח) והחכמה מאין תמצא:
Rabbi Yochanan taught: The words of Torah can only exist in a person who posits one's self she'eyno (as non-existent), because it says in Job 28:12, "But me'eyn (where) can wisdom be found?"

The Talmud teaches us that wisdom, synonymous with Torah, is married to ערמה (ormah), which has many meanings. That minority of rabbis who fear for the worst say that this word implies deceit: when we are wise, we may use our intellect for the worst. The majority of rabbis teach though that ערמה (ormah) is nakedness, what Rashi interprets as "שפירש עליה עני וחסר כל שמערים שיתקיים תורתו" ("when one impoverishes one's self to the point of lacking all; to strip one's self in order to uphold Torah"). But, Rabbi Yochanan gets the final word here and clarifies that living Torah can only be achieved with the humility of a nobody.

The id who loves wisdom can use that wisdom for corruption. Rather, to make use of wisdom righteously, we have to denude ourselves of our ulterior motives--or else our wisdom can become an offense. In order to become somebody through wisdom, we have to start off as nobody.

In the Jewish community, we should not worry about women studying Torah. We should worry about women not studying Torah. Similarly, we should worry about anybody who has ever been a nobody not studying Torah. At some point, whether in history or in our own lives, we have each been a nobody.

Being anonymous is a universal experience, and the best route for emerging from the unknown is our pursuit of wisdom together.
4 comments or Leave a comment
thegelf From: thegelf Date: July 14th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for doing these. I like a bit of Talmud in my day.
jonahrank From: jonahrank Date: July 14th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. As always, thank you for reading!
aethereal_girl From: aethereal_girl Date: July 17th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi! So I noticed you started reading my journal. Out of idle curiousity, where'd you come across it?
jonahrank From: jonahrank Date: July 17th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I think I was just browsing people with similar Interests listed in our LJ profiles.

Good to hear from you!
4 comments or Leave a comment