Having Knowledge Versus The Acquisition Of Knowledge

The Gemara (Nedarim 37a) says; “One who has knowledge has everything; without it what does he have? whoever has acquired knowledge, what is he lacking? one who has not acquired knowledge, what has he acquired?” What is the difference in this statement between “having” knowledge and “acquiring” it, for it seems in both scenarios one is either complete or deficient based on having or lacking either one of them. It seems having or lacking knowledge is less severe than the acquisition or failed acquisition of knowledge. For without knowledge – the mere question is “what does he have?” but without acquiring knowledge, the question is, “what has he acquired?” a demonstrative statement deeming all other acquisitions (perhaps in the physical realm) as superfluous. (It may be argued this flows logically because the acquisition of knowledge is on a far greater level than merely having knowledge. One can repeat verbatim a dictionary of knowledge but not acquire its meaning. Acquisition requires personal understanding of the knowledge, more important than just having the knowledge.)


The Gemara (Yoma 72b) says; “Any Torah scholar who is not ‘tocho kebaro,’ identical inside and out, is not a Torah scholar.” It may be said based on “drash” that a Torah Scholar should have characteristics of a “bor” a pit, as a pit exists low in the ground, just as a scholar should remain humble in spirit.

Revoking Permission

Hillel says in Pirkei Avot (2:5): “ואל תדון את חברך עד שתגיע למקומו – Don’t judge your friend until you reach his place.” The simple explanation is we can never estimate the issues that befall our friends and therefore never judge them. However, based on “drash” we may say that מָקוֹם is one of G-d’s names and therefore the interpretation would be that you should never judge your friend until you “reach” G-d, and how many humans can say they “reached” G-d, thus revoking permission to judge others.

The Everlasting Bone

In Pirkei Avos (2:4) we are taught in the name of Hillel:

“אַל תַּאֲמֵן בְּעַצְמָךְ עַד יוֹם מוֹתָךְ”

“Don’t believe in yourself until the day of your death.”

Based on “drash,” there is a good reason not to believe בְּעַצְמָךְ (also translated to mean “your bone”) until your death, that is because in the merit of eating a “melava malka,” the “luz bone” is nourished and remains until “tchiat hametim,” a testament that true belief in the everlasting bone comes at death.

Wide Kindness

“חסד” (kindness) equals the gematria of the word “עב” (wide). One’s kindness must have a wide impact on the recipient.  “עב” is phonetically pronounced in Hebrew as “אב” (referencing the word “Av” translated to mean father and the month of “Av”). “חסד” is the “father” of all action and the way to approach the month of “Av.”

Spiritual Strength

It was taught: “He would also say (Ben Hei Hei would): Five years is the age for the study of Scripture. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot. Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty (ל), for strength, Forty, for understanding etc..”(Pirei Avot 4:22).  The Hebrew letter ל equals thirty (corresponding to the idea – “Thirty (ל), for strength”). If ל is phonetically pronounced in Hebrew it would spell לָמַד “to learn.” Therefore, 30 is a time of strength for learning symbolizes spiritual strength.