Blessings of the Wise

 [First posted on The Times of Israel at:]

Netziv Genesis: Lech Lecha

Blessings of the Wise

“Kings may be judges of the earth, but wise men are the judges of kings.” -Ibn Gabirol

I was a schoolboy in Caracas, Venezuela, when I met Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, then Chief Rabbi of Israel. In my young mind I understood he was a walking Torah scroll. I had seen some Torah scrolls previously. They contained our ancient written tradition. They were sacred. We revered them. Here was a human version, with arms and legs, eyes, ears, a mouth that poured forth words of Torah and a powerful, encyclopedic mind that contained and spread forth an ocean’s worth of Torah.

Something must have touched me on that day that I should still carry such memories three and half decades later.

God tells Abraham that he will be a blessing to others. The Netziv, on Genesis 12:2, explains that the blessings of Abraham were particularly effective and powerful. He was sought out by princes and kings for his council and blessing. The Netziv relates this to the Talmudic dictum that when one is sick, they should seek out the “Chacham” (sage/wise one). Not only should one seek the potent blessings of the “Chacham”, but perhaps more significantly, one should follow their advice.

May we have the good fortune of connecting with wise, blessed people.

Shabbat Shalom,



In memory of Harav Ovadia Yosef. The people of Israel have lost a great sage.

Leave a Reply