A Sign of Wisdom

Yael Eckstein  |  March 14, 2023

Yael Eckstein kneels in front of and holds hands of elderly woman wearing multiple layers of clothing and yellow scarf on her head,

A person’s wisdom yields patience;
     it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
—Proverbs 19:11

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.

One of God’s merciful traits is that he is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). And as the Bible tells us over and over, we are called upon to do our best to emulate the God to the best of our ability.

There’s an old Jewish story about being slow to anger. There was a son who always showed his father great respect, doing whatever he asked of him. On his deathbed, the father said to his son, “My son, I have one final instruction for you. Obey it always: When you grow angry, refrain from taking action until the next day.”

A while later, the son left for a business trip that lasted many years. He didn’t realize that his wife was pregnant when he left. When the man returned from his trip, he approached his home and heard a young man’s voice laughing with his wife. Having been away for so many years, he assumed that his wife had been unfaithful. He drew his sword in anger, ready to attack the young man, but then he remembered his father’s instruction, took a deep breath and put his sword away.

Listening in some more, the man heard his wife say to the young man, “Had your father known you were born, he would already be finding you a good wife.” He shuddered as he realized that the person he almost killed was actually his own son! He threw open the door, greeted his wife and son and thanked his father’s advice for saving him from making the biggest mistake of his life.

A Sign of Wisdom

In Proverbs we read:A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” But in the original Hebrew, the opening words of this verse literally say, “A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger.” The verse uses the same words as Exodus 34, which describes how God displays this same trait — “slow to anger.”

Anger is never a productive emotion. When we are angry, we don’t think clearly, leading us to act without thinking. And all too often, actions taken in anger are ones that we quickly regret.

Proverbs is teaching us that being slow to anger is a sign of wisdom. Acting in anger is the opposite. It leads to foolish and often destructive outcomes.

Your Turn:

Let’s commit ourselves to slowing down when we are tempted to lash out in anger. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and let your wisdom take over.