The Two Branches of Wisdom
The various bodies of wisdom and branches of science can be divided into two general categories: that which is a product of in-depth study (henceforth referred to as “the theoretical”) and that which is a function of practical training and experience (henceforth referred to as “the practical”). Those bodies of wisdom that are based on the study of paradigms and proofs belong in the theoretical category. On the other hand, those that are based on [the wisdom of] accurate approximation [i.e., application] fall under the rubric of the practical. Theoretical wisdom is not dependent upon age, for, as Chazal tell us (Avos 4:26), “There is a new jug with old wine.” Indeed, we see that a sharp-minded youth has much more cognitive ability than an elderly person whose knowledge and understanding is feeble. Practical knowledge, however, is acquired with the passage of time and is established with old age. Now, “understanding” (an aspect of wisdom) is a function of accurate approximation [i.e., application of what is known in the practical sphere]. Therefore, the verse states, “In the aged there is wisdom, and [in] length of days understanding.”
Book: OHR Yisrael
The classic writings of Rav Yisrael Salanter
Published by Targum Press, Inc.
Find this book at:
Seforim Center (USA)