Psalm 111

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Adonai (111:10)

The character attribute of Yir’at Hasham, living in awe of God, reminds me that for all of the degrees on my wall, my storehouse of knowledge is finite while God is infinite. Fear of God is not terror. Most religious people do not understand God as a terror or use God to frighten others. At the most, they might embrace the quality of fear to inspire trembling in themselves. The primary purpose of fear and awe is to promote the quality of humility, the ability to set aside ego. Wisdom begins with the ability to see the rightness in the words of others and the wrongness in one’s own words.

Wisdom is not the same things as intelligence. There are many smart people in the world who are not wise and there are many wise people who would not score well on an IQ test. Wisdom begins by cultivating the ability to see one’s own flaws against God’s perfection. A wise person knows when to speak and when to hold back. A wise person sees wisdom in others, even while disagreeing with them. A wise person understands his or her own motivations, triggers, and flash points and uses that knowledge to minimize responses provoked by fear, anger, jealousy, or other negative emotion.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 111

  1. Rabbi

    A valuable text. It must be over 5 years you write these articles, right?

    I wonder if there is also a link to the Psalm itself, for quick reference!




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