Let us pretend there is an imaginary doctor living in the sixties. He smokes a couple of packs of cigarettes a day and has an unimportant chronic cough, but is otherwise relatively normal.

One day he notices that every patient for whom he prescribes cough antidotes, smokes. He has a sudden flash; maybe smoking and coughing are related. Second flash; maybe smoking is bad for the health generally!

The flashes are known in Chassidus as chochmah. The flash has no length or breadth it is a flash point of momentary and potent light.

Now, suppose he begins to do some investigating. He begins to study cases of chest related disorders and gathers statistics. Slowly, a pattern in those numbers begins to emerge. There is a definite correlation between the smoking population and the chest related disorder population.

This is binah. The process of investigating and understanding the implications of that first flash. Examining the length and breadth of information to build up a reasoned logical proposition formed by a thorough understanding of the concept.

A conclusion is reached; smoking is bad for health. Indeed when the binah process is finally complete, a proposition is born from the chochmah and then the binah. The proposition can be formulated like this:1

Smoking Kills You

Now, here comes the jackpot question, does our doctor give up smoking? And the incredible answer? Not necessarily. Our imaginary doctor knows smoking will kill him and yet he does not necessarily give it up. Why? He has no daas in smoking. daas is the level of taking on board information arrived through chochmah and then binah, so that a permanent change is effected2. No one in their right mind can smoke. The reason they do is they have no daas in relation to this chochmah and binah.

Small children have no daas. This is the reason they will do things entirely contrary to even their own logic let alone that of the parent. It is a waste of time to take a four year old child and reason with him as to why he should keep away from a swimming pool.

Even in the unlikely event the child can accept the chochmah or hear examples of tragedies which become the binah, the child has no daas, and is in critical danger near the water if it cannot swim.

So then, all are levels of understanding. The flash is understanding, so is the statistical research, as is the change of behavior. We learn in Chassidus however, that each separate category of chochmah, binah and daas are necessary. However, it is impossible to be spiritually mature and upwardly mobile without the daas.

A Jewish thief prays to G‑d for success. Consider that. He prays because he is a Jew. Jews do deals with G‑d. If G‑d lets me do this, I will do that in return. Help my child with this problem and I will donate a computer to such and such an institution. But how can a thief pray for success? He knows (chochmah) there is a G‑d He knows (binah) that he cannot profit by going against His will. How can a man possibly profit from behaving contrary to Hashem’s will?

Our Jewish thief steals because he is a spiritual child. He has no daas in relation to stealing. This may be for many varied reasons, all of which came from his yetzer hora (evil inclination) (see Building Block No. 6) but the conclusion is the same; in relation to this mitzvah at least, he has no daas.

In a spiritually mature person, intellect rules emotion. Intellect is chochmah, binah and daas. In order to complete an intellectual grasp of any matter, all three ingredients must be there.

What we learn together here will introduce the chochmah and binah of how to live a purposeful and therefore happy life. For better or for worse, honesty requires that it be known that the daas must come from the reader.