Off the Pulpit: The true wisdom

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

We often complain there is too little wisdom in the world. Actually there is too much. We have vast compendia of advice, sage writings from people who have endured much and thought deeply, legacies from civilizations worldwide that have sustained generations.

The problem is that even when we are willing to listen it is hard to know which bit of wisdom fits which situation. There is a wisdom to holding fast, but also to letting go. There is a wisdom to caution and to heedlessness. When Ecclesiastes wisely counsels us that there is a time for everything, a time to speak and a time to be silent, it unfortunately neglects to tell us which time is applicable to which act.

As we grow older and the patterns of life become more familiar, we hope to develop that essential quality of any good performer, timing. We can anticipate life’s punch lines, as it were. We recognize situations where in the past we chose the wrong bit of wisdom and can now incline to the right one. But life is infinitely various and the great art, honed through a lifetime of chances missed and regrets remembered, is to do the right thing at the right time.

Good luck.

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