The Ancient Wisdom of Books

There is a story in the Zohar of man who lived in the mountains and didn’t know much about the city. He ate wheat and raw kernels. One day he finally visited the people and they offered him bread in three different forms, each one more delicious than the last.

When he asked what each of those loves were made of, they responded with “wheat.” He immediately dismissed the bread, stating he knew the essence of each one because he ate wheat every day. In doing so, he missed out on all the delights of the world, which were lost on him. So it is one who grasps the principle, but is unaware of all the delights deriving and diverging from that principle.

I use that story to teach students how fiction can teach us truth. Fiction can wrap up truths in many ways that are palatable to our senses, each one taking on a new form while still retaining the essence of what they are about.


Social media, fast news and online sharing have increased the frequency on which we dump information out into the world. We can try riding the tidal wave of trying to keep up with it all… or we can learn some of those same truths from our books that can still teach us something new today.