Wisdom of Ben Zoma

- ו ה ו -

Who is wise? He who learns from every man.

“Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from every man. […] Who is mighty? He who subdues his [evil] inclination. […] Who is rich?  He who rejoices in his lot. […] Who is he that is honored? He who honors his fellow human beings.”

Tractate of Avot 4:1

Ben Zoma’s questions are rhetorical. A wise person is not someone who knows many things, but is rather someone who continues to learn, all the time, from everyone, everywhere. The mighty are not the strongest physically, but are rather those who have control over their impulses and instincts. A truly rich individual is one who is content with what they have, not one who accumulates more and more assets. An honorable person is one who is modest and honors others.

Caution is “pausing” between our natural reactivity and chosen positive  action.