Guided by Wisdom

Yael Eckstein  |  March 31, 2023

Yael smiling and embracing her family during Passover.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures. —
Proverbs 24:3-4

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 question I am often asked pertains to the remarkable history of the Jewish people. “What is the secret? How did Jewish identity and tradition survive 2,000 years in exile, as a scattered and persecuted people?”

The easy answer is to say that God put His hand on Israel. But the truth is that there is more to the story. Not all Jews made it through. Many were lost. In my mind, the best answer is summed up in one word. Family.

So much of Jewish life revolves around what goes on in the home. The focus of the practice of Jewish faith is not the synagogue or even the school. It’s the home.

Rabbi Ken Spiro writes, “Family life is regarded as a training ground for the Jewish way of life. Children receive their earliest education in the home. Parents show them how to live as Jews. Jewish parents are expected to make the home a place where Judaism is alive. They can do this through acts of Jewish worship, such as the weekly Shabbat celebration or marking the Jewish festivals.”

Guided by Wisdom

But for the home to be an effective place for transmitting the teachings of Jewish tradition, parenting must be intentional. It must be guided by wisdom.

Proverbs teaches us, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

The inherited wisdom from past generations provides the framework for everything that happens in a Jewish home. But at the same time, strong parenting is not only about imparting wisdom. As Scripture goes on to say, the home must be a place of understanding, too. Understanding means that we listen to our children, that we hear what they are feeling and thinking.

In the original Hebrew, understanding wisdom, chochma, is the initial inspiration, the vision. Understanding, tvuna, is knowing how to apply that wisdom to the situation at hand. The culmination of begin guided by wisdom and understanding is knowledge, da’at, which is much more than mere facts and information.

Da’at is the full expression of our inherited wisdom and realistic understanding of the possibilities before us. Da’at is the finished product that we can celebrate and use as a basis to move forward. Generation to generation.

Your Turn:

As you impart what you have learned to the next generation, make sure to listen, as well. Let’s be attentive to the needs of the younger generation.