Learning From Everyone

Judaism values wisdom. One of the highest accolades a person can earn is to be labeled a talmid chacham (a wise student). We usually think of a wise person as someone who has acquired a great deal of knowledge. 

Ben Zoma is one of the many sages quoted in Pirkei Avot, a volume of ethical teachings. He notes that a wise person is “one who learns from everyone”(4:1). Potential teachers surround us, and we learn lessons in surprising ways. A key to intellectual growth is remaining on the lookout for teachers and experiences that can enhance our knowledge. 

One can learn from such diverse sources as one’s students, colleagues, and friends, and even from animals! (Really - cats can teach us about modesty, doves and dogs model loyalty, and ants never steal food from one another).