Project Genesis

Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at

Question: What is the difference between “chochmah,” “binah,” and “da’at?” To me, it sounds like all three should be translated as “wisdom,” “wisdom,” and “wisdom!”

Answer: Chochmah is practical knowledge; how to do things: How to drive a car, how to tie your shoes—things you can learn and teach. Binah is knowledge of relationships: Putting A and B together, logical reasoning, even intuition. Da’at is experiential knowledge: How you know you’re alive, how you know God exists, how you know that 1+1 = 2. This knowledge cannot be proven, only experienced.

Rabbi Noach Orlowek once explained the difference between chochmah, binah, and da’at with the following analogy:

When you tell a child not to touch the stove because it’s hot and it burns, you’ve given him chochmah. When the child sees a pot on the stove and figures out that it might be hot too, he’s using his binah. However, when he puts his hand on the stove (Ouch!), he now has da’at!

Hope that’s helpful!

Rabbi Seinfeld

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