י״ב בתשרי ה׳תש״פ (October 11, 2019)

Kinnim 25a: Increased Wisdom With Age

On the last page of this short tractate, the Gemara brings a statement by Rabbi Shimon ben Akashya. He says: In the case of elderly ignoramuses who have not acquired Torah knowledge, as long as they age their minds become confused, as it is stated ‘He removes the speech of men of trust, and takes away the sense of the elders’ (Iyov 12:20). This is in contrast with Torah scholars who, “as long as they age, their minds become settled as it is stated: ‘There is wisdom with aged men, and understanding in length of days'” (Iyov 12:12). In other words, Torah scholars increase in wisdom as they age.

Rabbi Shimon’s statement was brought as it was reminiscent of an earlier statement the Gemara had cited in relation to aging. There Rabbi Yehoshua quoted the as saying that the number of sounds produced by a sheep while it is alive is exceeded by the number produced by its carcass. The Sages state that a sheep’s voice is one when alive, and seven when dead. How is its voice seven? Two horns for trumpets, two shank bones for flutes, skin for a drum, large intestines as strings for a lyre (Rashi interprets this as a wind instrument like a bagpipe), and small intestine used as strings for harps. Some even say the wool produces a sound.