Kenneth Cohen

Be Wiser Sooner Than Later

There is a verse in Parshat Ha’azinu, that expresses a great deal about how the human mind works. It says, “If they only had wisdom, they would have understood.”

There are two interpretations to this Pasuk. The first refers to the nations of the world. If they were wise, they would have realized that the only reason they had domination over the Jewish people, was because they had angered Hashem. How foolish of them to think that it was possible for them to harm the Jews, if not for it being allowed by G-d. In the future, they will pay dearly for their arrogance.

The second interpretation involves man at the end of his life. He regrets not having had the wisdom to focus on the truly important.

Rabbi Twerski, as a rabbi and psychiatrist, encountered numerous individuals who were terminally ill, and expressed their regrets. Sometimes it was the realization that perhaps if they took religious observance more seriously, their kids would have turned out better. Other times, people regretted not spending more time with their wives and children. Never was there an individual who regretted not having spent more time at the office!

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but the Torah is telling us to wake up. We must use our intellect to live our lives to the fullest, and not get to a point of regret when it is too late.

This can come about when we are not lazy, and not rationalizers. It is within us to take hold of ourselves and be wise, and have the determination to do what is right in the eyes of G-d.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at