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Weekly Jewish Wisdom

JULY 13, 2016

Fishing for Ideas

“The light of the eyes gladdens the heart...”
— Proverbs 15:30

According to this verse in Proverbs, there is a direct line between the eyes and the heart. Having taught this verse and its interpretation many times, I've found three distinct understandings of what kind of light has the power to make the heart happy. Rashi believes that aesthetic sights have this impact: mountains and lakes, for example. Beauty provides light and makes us joyful. Rabbi David Altshuler, an eighteenth century exegete, claims that removing oneself from doubt creates happiness, in other words personal en-light-enment. Gersonides (1288-1344), a French commentator, believes that what gladdens the heart are the gifts of the intellect; when the light bulb goes off we find ourselves experiencing deep pleasure.

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