I have heard a proof that hearing is nothing in compared to seeing, and the proof is from Yitro: that even though he had heard about all the great miracles that had occurred to the Jews and their encounters with the Egyptians and Pharaoh, it was only after coming to the desert to meet his son-in-law Moshe (Exodus 18:5) that he said (Exodus 18:11):

עַתָּ֣ה יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּֽי־גָד֥וֹל יְהוָ֖ה מִכָּל־הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים כִּ֣י בַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר זָד֖וּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם

I'm looking for the source for this idea. Have you seen this anywhere?

  • Are you looking for a source for this a halakhic concept or a general epistemological one? Feb 2, 2015 at 16:32
  • @Matt i am looking for the source Feb 3, 2015 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Ferber, in his commentary on the Torah, Kerem HaTzvi, says:

‏ וע״ד צחות אפ״ל מה שמועה שמע ובא, כלומר למה הוצרך‏ ‏לבא הלא כבר שמע הכל, אך אינו דומה שמיעה לראיה, ודבר זה נראה מעמלק‏ ‏אעפ״י ששמע הכל מה שעשה ה׳ לפרעה וכל הקמימ על בנ״י, בכ״ז ויבא עמלק‏ ‏להלחמ ולראות כעצמו כח ה׳ כי אינו דומה שמיעה לראיה‏

to loosely sum it up, he makes a light-hearted connection between what Yitro heard (and why Rashi questions what Yitro heard) and why hearing is not compared to seeing. Yitro saw that Amalek attacked even though they heard what G-d did to the Egyptians. Yitro realized that they could only do this if hearing is not comparable to seeing, so he decided he should travel to see G-d's hand for himself.

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