Monday, December 25, 2006


It will soon be the first day of the New Year and of all the rest of our lives. What have we carried forward from past days, and years? It has been said that an economist is a man who knows a great deal about very little, and who goes along knowing more and more about less and less, until finally he knows practically everything about nothing. So it seems with me, and so it probably is with many others--if we expect to become any wiser. Those who have attained a majority of years might try it for themselves. Think back to ages eighteen or twenty—recall how wise and knowing we were then. I would like to be so smart once again, if only for an hour. That is of course about as long as such wisdom can bear the light of this day. If the truth be told, we learn more and more of how much we do not know, if we learn anything. How wise then, are the ones who finally recognize how little they know after all; and possibly also how relieved. (A case in point might be our nation’s long-standing, revered economist Alan Greenspan who unburdened himself of his great responsibilities; beyond a couple of cautionary words he demonstrated admirable brevity in recommending very little for the future--clearly a wiser chairman).

Here it is another New Year and we have been facing the elements as never before; prior learning is not always immediately sufficient to this unprecedented onslaught of air, earth, fire and water. Winds and floods, snows, mud-slides and flames rage out of control as never before. We must learn new ways to cope, but where does one look for knowledge we have not yet learned? Here I am reminded of a line spoken by Reb Tevye when asked just how his ancient customs and traditions of Judaism came to be the way they are. With wonder and almost joyfulness in his voice he replies, “Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t know”! This simple and ordinary man was expressing his wonder and glory for God, who already knows what is unfolding—and how inadequate our own understanding is beside it. He was evidently impressed that God’s greatness is regularly proven by how far short we mortals are of such reasoning. For wisdom we might do well to heed Matthew 6:33 wherein he says “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness”. All else will follow.

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