Fall of the Wise

Kli Yakar Deuteronomy: Shoftim

Fall of the Wise

“As favor and riches forsake a man, we discover in him the foolishness they concealed, and which no one perceived before.” Jean De La Bruyere

Stupidity is contagious, and it stems from arrogance. At least that is what the Kli Yakar (link) argues. He is so concerned about people becoming infected with this disease that he even prescribes that one should be careful where he lives so as not to catch it. The criteria he gives for determining the suitability of ones domicile is the character of the judge of the town. The Kli Yakar (Deuteronomy Chapter 16) explains that if the judge is arrogant, even the wisest scholar will fall prey to foolishness, just by association.

Arrogance leads to thinking one knows it all, or is always right in their opinions. That of course leads to foolishness, for even King Solomon the Wise fell most disastrously relying on his own council. The Kli Yakar’s greater concern is the infectiousness of incorrect thinking. If a judge, or a leader, or any other great and wise person, take on the attribute of arrogance, leading to faulty judgment, others around them, others that look up to them, admire them and see them as role models, may also exercise poor judgment. Entire communities may crop up with an error in their thinking and life – all based on one arrogant wise man whose foolishness may doom generations.

May God spare us the arrogance of the wise and keep us near the humble of any stature.

Shabbat Shalom,



On the marriage of Tamar and Marki Roig. They are each of both noble stature yet humble bearings. May it ever be so.

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