The Difference between the Wise and the Intelligent

In parashat Korach – Korach made a rebellion against Moshe Rabeinu / Moses. Rashi there asks Korach was Pikeach / intelligent – what made him do this folly [of rebellion]. He answers the question.

Two points – one – a person will only sin if a spirit of folly enters into him. Meaning if a person was completely rational he or she would not sin. Emotions get in the way to clear thought. Thus one’s mind – in Judaism controls their heart. Not the other way around.

A second point – what is intelligence?

A rabbi – Rabbi Mandel – told a story to illustrate it. Once a youn man wanted to enter into the wagon driving business. He approached a seasoned driver and asked him to teach him the trade. The man asked the apprentice “What do you do if your wagon goes in the mud?” He relied – “First I would unload the passengers and try to get out with the horses.” “What if that didn’t help?” He replied “I would then remove the baggage.” “And if that would not avail?” “I would get out and push.”

The driver responded “Sorry. You failed the test.” “What. What should I have done?!” the boy asked. “You should not have gotten into the mud in the first place.”

The difference between an intelligent person and a wise person. An intelligent person will be able to figure out things. The wise will not fall into the problem in the first place.

In Pirke Avot 2:9: it talks of The Path of Good & of Evil:

9. He [Rabban Yoh’anan ben Zackai]  said to them [his students] – go out & see which is the good path to which a person should adhere. Rabbi Elie’zer says: A good eye. Rabbi Yehoshua’ says: A good friend. Rabbi Yossi says: A good neighbor. Rabbi Shimo’n says: One who foresees the outcome of his actions & Rabbi Ela’zar says: A good heart. He said to them I see the words of Rabbi Ela’zar ben A’rakh from your words – for included in his words are your words.

A word to the wise is to be wise.

A person who knows that certain buttons upset another person – don’t press them. Peace works better that quarrel.


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