A Heart of Wisdom

Yael Eckstein  |  March 29, 2023

Yael with elderly woman in Ukraine

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
—Psalm 90:12

In Judaism, wisdom is something that should be sought, cultivated, and taught — no matter what age we are. Enjoy this collection of inspirational thoughts and insights about this godly pursuit.

The story is told of two wealthy Jewish landowners who lived in Europe centuries ago. They were friends and often cooperated both in business as well as in charitable endeavors to benefit the community. But one day, they had a dispute between them. There was a particular small parcel of farmland near their town and each of them claimed ownership. The argument became quite bitter, turning them into enemies and dividing the community. 

Eventually, at the insistence of some leaders in the town, the two men agreed to appear before the local rabbi and allow him to mediate the case. After they presented their respective cases, the rabbi told them that he wanted to see the piece of property for himself.

The trio arrived at the small parcel of land. The rabbi looked at it for a long time. Then he turned to the two men and said, “I am struggling to come to a decision. I think it is best that I ask the land itself.” The two businessmen were confused by the rabbi’s words, but they knew the rabbi to be grounded and wise. They agreed.

The rabbi got down on the ground and turned his head as though he was listening to it. Then, still bowed with his ear to the ground, the rabbi nodded a few times and stood up.

“The land has resolved this issue for us,” declared the rabbi. “The land told me that while each of you thinks the land is his, the truth is that one day soon, both of you will actually belong to it!”

A Heart of Wisdom

In Psalm 90, we read, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Knowing that our days are numbered gives us wisdom for living in the here and now. Humans are the only species who know that our time on this earth is finite. And that is actually a great gift. This knowledge allows us to put things in their proper perspective.

All too often we cling to material things that have no eternal value. We must have “a heart of wisdom” to understand what really matters. Our relationships with friends, family, and community are far more important than any of the objects we own.

Your Turn:

The next time you feel slighted or find yourself in a dispute, remember the story of the two landowners. Let’s put what really matters first.