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Wisdom and Emunah

Wisdom and Emunah

Why you are right and the world is wrong


Quick: Tell me something you can give the world that doesn’t come from your genes, your parents, your teachers, your friends, your society, your nature or your nurture.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s what the world would like you to think. The world wants you to think that nothing comes out of a human being that it didn’t put in there to begin with.

And the world lies. When you emerged from that birth canal, something emerged that never existed before, something that originates only in you and exclusively in you.When you emerged from that birth canal, something emerged that never existed before: a vision of the world, not as it is, but as it should be. With your arrival came a vision of the world, not as it is, but as it should be. And the meaning of your life is to make it that way.

Not a talent, not a personality trait, not an aptitude or acuity. A vision. And the success of that vision depends on your faith in it. Because if you don’t have faith in it, no one else will.

The world is going to be hostile to that vision. And yet more hostile to your faith in it. Why? Because the world resists change, and this vision is the only force that can effect real change.

Your talents—the world planted those within you, and is happy to reap its due rewards. Your personality—without vision, it is nothing more than a benign interface with the world around you, your compromise with its demands. Even your intellect can begin only with what is and continue from there.

Not an effect, but a cause, it enters from far beyond the world, and it changes everything.

But your sense of what is wrong with the world, your indignation, your vision of how things must be—that’s not an effect, but a cause; not a movement, but a mover; not a result, but a primal origin. It is not from the world or of the world. It enters from far beyond. It changes everything.

Which means you’re going to need a faith in that vision that can overpower the entire world.

We call that vision chochmah חכמה, translated as “wisdom.” The faith, we call emunah אמונה.

Chochmah reassembles. It scans the fragments of a shattered world, and sees the whole they are meant to be. It finds illness, and sees what must be healed. It hears the dissonance of a myriad of disparate voices, and knows that there is harmony awaiting it here. It tells the world, “This is not right. This is unjust. No, this is not what you were created to be!” And then it propels you to stand up and do what only you can do.

Emunah doesn’t move. It does not react. It does not change, or decay. It cannot be diminished or tainted. The noise that blocks its signal affects it as much as clouds affect the sun. Its origin is at the core of your soul, the place where everything begins—there is nothing before it that caused it to be. Emunah believes in chochmah, for chochmah was conceived in its womb, in that place beyond change. As emunah is one with the Infinite Light, so chochmah sees that Infinite Light within everything. And so it nurtures chochmah, and chochmah returns it that favor, for it is through chochmah that emunah is channeled into being.

Without your chochmah and without the emunah that breathes within it, you might as well be another billiard ball moving by Newton’s laws of motion, an artifact of your environment. It is they that render you its master. They are you, and you are them, and without them you might as well not exist. If not for emunah, all of us would be redundant; humanity would be flat; the materialists, the nihilists and the determinists would be right. We might as well all be data processing machines made out of meat and bones.

Your vision makes you relevant. Your faith in it makes you real.

Your vision makes you relevant. Your faith in it makes you real.

The Jewish people was born as well, and with its birth a vision entered into the world, and a faith in that vision. Every Jew shares in that vision, each with his or her unique perspective, entirely original in its own right, and of vital importance to the whole—because the repair of the entire world depends on each Jew taking care of his or her share. Collectively, we have clutched unyieldingly to that vision, through every taunt and enticement, threat and danger, even when the apparent facts of experience contradicted all we believed, until we were proven right after all. With that faith, we have succeeded in transforming the world beyond belief, and with that faith we will bring it to its ultimate completion.

You too, must hold your vision tight. If you do not have faith in it, no one else will. And with it, you will change the world.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Josh April 4, 2015

The problem with Faith This is a great boost to a person's psyche, who believes that the world is wrong. Whilst we are born with genetic traits, including mental, that are waiting to be developed, I think our purpose is built through our experience of the world. The problem with faith is that it translates to blind following. If we desire to truly accept and promote what we have faith in, then we must be willing to be wrong, no matter how strongly we desire to be right. Only when we can demonstrate our willingness to be wrong can we expect anyone to listen to us. Emunah may not move, but it should! Reply

Anonymous September 16, 2013

if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Answer to L.Roche, Judaism is a religion of laws on how to conduct oursleves as humans among society. Yes you are right, it is a religion that has not change. But the saying is if it is not broken...don't fix it. I disagree with you about not thinking outside the box. It is a religion that allows you to against the immorals of this world, especially toward the Jewish people. For example I met a person from another religion and she was telling me about Jewish prostitution. First of all, I don't know where this woman's mind was coming from. But I got upset and brought my Torah in to work and show her that on Page 979, Ki Thetze, 99 Prostitution: it indicates that there must not be any prostitutes among Israelites. Afterwards the woman wanted to continue to argue,I just walk away from her. Also, everything that the Torah talks about it is true. If I want to live, I will follows God's commandments because in my eyes they are logic and they make sense. Reply

K.o.smith Denison,Tx April 9, 2013

chochmah, emunah Consider the Jewish people, a blessing to all the earth why? because their vision and wisdom and faith has changed the entire world.The greatest nation that has ever existed is the United States.The people of the u.s. has given more to the nations than most of the smaller countries combined. The founding Fathers used the Jewish Scriptures for their belief system, and even though they were not perfect by any means the basic Ideals that they received from the Jewish Scriptures have created a people that want to help others, they have died for the freedom of others.They die for justice in other lands, i know that the American people and their Presidents and leaders are not perfect and they make mistakes, but from my personal life I have cried over someone that has joined the Military and died in a foreign land's to many.Young people with high Ideals, until we obey the Seven Laws of Noah for Non-Jews,G-d's vision, I am afraid we will see a nightmare world of Nuclear War and wastes lands. Reply

Doreet Oregon, USA April 1, 2013

wisdom and Emunah hi; l am very discouraged because l see everyone in the world killing the planet, and not caring about this world. there are more people who don't care about the world, than positive people who want to fix, repair it.. what happens when everyone, almost, ignores repairing the world, and instead destroyS and murders it, instead? the way its happening now?if the biggest no. of people on the planet, actively destroy it, WHAT ultimately happens? face it, people ARE destroying the whole, physical world! you can philosophize all you want (l respect philosophy) but how do we look at a planet,_ a world, that may END someday? Be physically destroyed? According to science, there will be so many people on the planet inside ten years, there wont be enough food, billions will starve to death. All resources will be gone. How does "repair the world" fit into this future? I really want to Know. thanks! Reply

Jonathan Stebbins Cleveland August 8, 2017
in response to Doreet:

The short answer is that fear can't reproduce, so in the end love has to win. Longer answer: People couldnt survive for a second without the intricate life-support apparatus of Earths ecosystem. Some parents freak out watching their child hold their breath, but even if they hold it indefinitely they will soon pass out and be forced to breathe unconsciously. So we will survive. It wont be easy, though. We are like a student who left far too little time to start their project, and we feel the wear of the stress. We have not begun the healing process, much less started the paper, but one way or another we will have come up with clever solutions to meet each deadline. Thank goodness our professor is lenient. Reply

Missie Birmingham, AL October 4, 2012

Yes What Kenneth has said. I have been thinking about Abraham a lot recently.
Now if I could just find a place to live where I COULD spend time with our Creator and not constantly be worrying about how to pay for the place and the food ...
I know I don't have to worry because our Creator is also our Provider. I just wish I could stop worrying and rest in him ... Reply

kenneth o. smith Denison, Tx u.s.a. October 4, 2012

Question of the Rabbi ? Rabbi Tzv,i ask a good question.
I want to give my answer that did not come from my environment.
I spent my life working on the most technical innovations and equipment of our generation, space program, Missile programs, and many products for the Nato countries , I must admit i have seen some really amazing things.
In Nineteen ninety two in the middle of the day, in good health our G-d of Abraham gave me a vision that change my entire life.
This had nothing to do with the laws of our world, because the L-rd change my home and everything around me, and changed my life,I have spent twenty years telling everyone to help Israel build the Eternal Third Temple, and Honor G-d's priests.
I am not trying to compare myself with any of our great prophets in any way, but i can understand why our father Abraham did what he did and left his home, he had no choice. All the great prophets that change our world spent time with our Creator and did what they could fighting the people of this world, pray Reply

Missie Birmingham, AL September 3, 2012

I Only Wish ... Mr. Cholasin, that I had read this 50 years ago.
I wish I could have aa chance to try to live according to this idea now. i still have ideals, and a desire to live my life, but I have come to realize that no one else in the world cares. apparent G-d does, for He let the Rabbi post this and let me read it. But it takes people on earth, too, and I have come to realize that people can't help, and that organizations won't (and organizations are, after all, made up of people). Reply

Anonymous Eastern, NC September 2, 2012

Thank You Beautiful..... Reply

Helen Dudden September 1, 2012

Yes so wise, if we do not believe then what else is there? I think that we should try to believe in those wise words, they are truely beautiful they touch your Soul. Reply

Missie Birmingham, AL September 1, 2012

Rabbi Freeman answers your question himself, with his analogy of the Jewish people being born. To me he presents a wonderful idea of how it "should" be, of how it actually is only the world doesn't get it. Reply

Anonymous August 30, 2012

Very nicely written Just what I needed to read at the right time. Answering to Rabbis can sometimes be exhausting to say the least.

Thank you,

L.Roche August 29, 2012

Beautiful reasoning. A very rare, deep analysis... why, in the end, do you attach an obvious Universal Knowledge/ Wisdom Everyone! is born with religion? Religion breaks the wings to fly. Religion is bondage not freedom. Your entire reasoning is beautifully outside the box, outside the cave of Plato the sunshine...why must your conclusion end by returning into the cave to glorify the images on the wall? I find very sad. We, all are born without any religion, with universal knowledge, a universal language...It is Religion that is killing us because we dare not step outside the box into the sunlight. Judaism was never a religion as we see today. In ancient times it was a philosophy. Philosophies change with the times, the thinkers. Religions do not change. As such Judaism became sadly an equal to xianity/islam. Do listen to the Disputation of Barcelona, Moshe Ben Nachman. An old testimony of the philosophy, not the religion. Superb. Reply

Rabbi Steve Madeira Beach, Fl. USA August 29, 2012

Emunah cannot be stopped The clouds only appear to stop the sun's rays.
Our perception, through our eyes, fools us into believing the sun is hidden. Just ask anyone who has experienced a severe sunburn, at the beach, on a cloudy day if the sun has lost any of its power. Reply

Rlee Jacksonville, FL August 29, 2012

Wisdom Faith Thank you Rabbi! This was a beautiful blending of spiritual and practical principles. May G-d allow me and all readers to take these insights with us into those hard places where He has called us to bring His light.
Again thank you and may G-d continue to use you to encourage and practically bless through you work.
Respectfully Reply

Rosally Saltsman Petach Tikvah, Israel August 29, 2012

I love this article! We need more inspiration like this! Reply

Christina Venter Cape Town, South Africa August 29, 2012

A new world begins..... Thanks dear Tzvi....the will will make the way.... Reply

Maurine Sydney, Australia August 29, 2012

Change Only light can brighten the darkest places.
Only love drives out hate.
God is love.
He is light.
When He is allowed to change us, then light love and progress abounds through us. A stubborn haughty people, wonderfully transformed by faith, to a caring sensitive yet enabled and powerful people. A carbon in the fire made in His image. Reply

Anonymous Birmingham, AL August 28, 2012

Thanks Thanks for sharing this. I needed to be told this. Reply

Anonymous August 28, 2012

leave it to me ... I might be the man who learned too much.

I love the article of insightful wisdom ( Chochma ) and faith emunah.

For my own edification if not others, i have learned to split faith into the Kabbalistic viewpoint. Emuna portion of faith is from the Chesed-Gevurah bond of the heart and is likened to a flame, waxing and waning with passion. The Bitachon portion of faith is from the Hod- Sod bond in the core ans is a cold steely resolve.Together, Emunah and Bitachon are unconquerable. " Hold your vision tight " and " change the world. " Look around. It ( Tikkun/world refinement ) has to be done. No threats. Only a positive reality of how the world should be, and our purpose to make it happen.

I did not intend to complicate the message. It is a lengthy paraphrase.I always need to repeat what my goal/purpose is. My mind isn't on the components often enough. The not changed. Reply

Mr. Cholasin ? August 28, 2012

Cholasin Excellent, would that I could have head this, and and believed it 50 years ago! Reply

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