Tazria: Chapter 21

"wisdom excels folly"


Rabbi Chiya wonders why Solomon says he saw that wisdom excels folly, since surely it must be obvious to everyone. We learn that no one was as wise as Solomon since he is named after the seven grades of wisdom, corresponding to seven Sfirot, and he actually spoke of seven vanities, or 'breaths.' The world is supported only by breath, since Rabbi Shimon taught that breath produces a sound by way of the wind and water in it, and the sound exists only by way of breath. In the same way that a man cannot exist without breath, the world cannot exist without the words of wisdom that Solomon said. And the breath by which the world endures comes from the breaths above. Wisdom is actually revealed by way of its opposite, folly, just as light would not be known without darkness, nor white without black, nor sweet without bitter, nor health without illness. God has made the one as well as the other.