The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

On the Shoulders of Wise Scriptural Giants: Reflections on the Relative Importance of Wisdom According to a Late Midrash

In mAv 3:9 R. Chanina ben Dosa states: He whose fear of sin comes before his wisdom, his wisdom endures ... He whose works exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures. A similar statement is spoken by R. Eleazar b. Azariah in mAv 3:17. The late midrash Seder Eliyahu elaborates on these sayings which relativise the importance of wisdom vis-à-vis fear of sin and works. In my talk I will discuss a homily in which paradigmatic scriptural transmitters of wisdom, Solomon and Job, are used to reframe wisdom and have it suit the programme of the ethical midrash Seder Eliyahu.