“He who has more learning than good deeds is like a tree with many branches but weak roots; the first great storm will throw it to the ground. He whose good works are greather than his knowledge is like a tree with fewer branches but with strong spreading roots, a tree which all the winds of heaven cannot uproot” The Talmud
I read this quote in the entertaining and enlightening book “I never metaphor I didn’t like”. In the past to my detriment, my learning far outstripped my good works. Because of this I’ve been uprooted by the winds of heaven far too many times.
For me this quote crystallized the importance of performing good deeds, which reduces suffering in order to to build relationships to help me during times of distress.
We are all social creatures that rely on our network of fellow humans to survive. Our good works are what keep and strengthen these connections because all of us want to be around those and to help those who help us suffer less.
Humans will never be free from suffering. Our only hope is to lessen its sting and its frequency in our life and the lives of those we love.
These good deeds don’t have to be grandiose to ameliorate some of the suffering our fellow humans feel. It could be as simple as cooking a nutritious meal for them, thanking them for something they’ve done for you in the past or paying them a sincere compliment.
Learning to understand the world is important. But knowledge alone doesn’t lead to less suffering . Only by performing good deeds for your self and others do you build the foundation needed to whether the storms of life.