By Rabbi Yochanan
By Prof. Shlomo Maital

Rabbi Yochanan asks, in the Talmud, “what is the right path for a person to follow? Who walks in this path?”

His terse answer, rather surprising:

(in Hebrew) “ha-roeh et hanolad”.  

Translation: He who sees the future.

“Hanolad” means, literally, “what will transpire”.

But it can also mean, “what is happening – now”. Because if the learned Rabbi Yochanan meant “what will happen in the future”, he would have said, “ha-roeh et mah she’yivaled” (what will transpire in the future),  future tense. 

One interpretation of Rabbi Yochanan’s terse, puzzling statement is this:

To live well, to do right, and of course, to innovate, what is needed is to really see what is happening now,  right at this moment, under our noses.  

Most of use look at things but we do not really see them. We hear people talk, but we do not really listen.    What we need is truly sharp vision, sight that becomes insight. I believe this is what the Rabbi meant. And to achieve such sight, to see what transpires now, at this moment, requires us to:

a) care about other people around us, b) be empathetic toward them, and c) really see them as they are and understand their needs, so that we can meet them, as innovators and simply as good people who want to improve the world.

Innovators begin with deep insight into what people need, what their wants and needs are, and then produce goods and services that meet those needs. Above all, they have very sharp vision. They see what is transpiring. They have insight, while others simply look.