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  • Writer's pictureReuven

Smart or simple?

What the Rav said:

If you love simple Jews, then you’re included together with the simple Jews.

You come in, you see a simple Jew saying Tehillim. You say, wow, how fortunate he is, if only I could say Tehillim like him.

Usually, it’s difficult for a person who is clever to say Tehillim with tears. His intellect takes away his simplicity. The intellect is the opposite of simplicity.

Only the true Tzadik can unify the intellect with simplicity.

The greater a person’s intellect, the more difficult it is for him to serve Hashem with simplicity.

However, what he can do is he can be jealous of a simple Jew, and connect to him, and then be included together with him.

My thoughts:

Sometimes, when we try to serve Hashem, we come across seeming conflict. This is one of them.

On the one hand, we’re meant to be a big Torah Scholar. And, on the other hand, we’re meant to just serve Hashem with simplicity. As the Rav points out here, intellect and simplicity just don’t go together (unless you’re a true Tzadik).

So, how do we reconcile these positions?

First, I think it's possible to be a big Torah Scholar, but without a ‘big intellect’. Rabbenu told us to ‘throw away our intellect’. That doesn’t mean to act dumb. Rather, there’s an aspect of wisdom – I think – which is called ‘intellect’ which is the arrogant part of believing that I’m clever, I’m smart, I know it all… etc. That’s the part we need to drop.

When we know that all the intellect and understanding we have is only from Hashem, and we ourselves know nothing, then I think the wisdom we merit to have is not harmful. (Rabbenu told us in Likutei Moharan that the purpose of intellect is to know that we know nothing.)

But, that’s a big call. Particularly, if I’ve been ‘blessed’ with big brains.

So, in the meantime, my job is to look at the simple Jew and to wish I was able to serve Hashem simply, like he does.

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