Some people in my synagogue this morning were discussing the aphorism

אין שמחה כשמחת התרת הספקות
there's no joy like the joy of the resolution of doubts

or words to that effect. Specifically, they were trying to remember where the line comes from. (One of them thought it was from the Rambam.) Googling led me to the commentary of M'tzudas David to Mishle 15:30:

אין בעולם שמחה כהתרת הספקות
the world has no joy like the resolution of doubts.

Does anyone know an earlier source?

  • One more data point: PMG MZ OC 682:1 has this in the name of "החוקר" (whoever that is).
    – msh210
    Feb 19, 2015 at 4:15
  • 1
  • I found the Lubavitcher Rebbe quoting it in the name of Yerushalmi (although did not succeed to identify it in the original). See: sie.org/templates/sie/article_cdo/aid/2518605/jewish/… He says here: "The Talmud (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 4:2) says, “There is no joy greater than the resolution of doubts” — which implies that before the doubt is resolved, one is in a state the antithesis of joy."
    – Binyomin
    Jul 7, 2019 at 16:26
  • After some research, there's a possibility that it may have come from Epicurean thought (yeah, 'apikoros'...). In his Letter to Menoetus he wrote: "The truest happiness does not come from enjoyment of physical pleasures but from a simple life, free from anxiety...– but by pleasure we mean the state wherein the body is free from pain and the mind from anxiety..." books.google.co.il/…
    – Harel13
    Jul 16, 2020 at 15:07
  • Adding to my comment above, in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, David Sedly wrote on Epicurianism: "...There are mental as well as bodily kinetic pleasures, for example, (perhaps) the 'joy' of resolving a philosophical doubt or holding a fruitful discussion with friends." - caae.phil.cmu.edu/Cavalier/80130/part1/sect2/texts/… - I have no idea if he wrote this based on the Jewish saying or it's an example brought somewhere else in Epicurus' writings or that he thought it up himself, based on said writings.
    – Harel13
    Jul 16, 2020 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


רמ"א, תורת העולה, ח"א פרק ו

The Rema in תורת העולה, ח"א פרק ו says

וכבר כתב חכם אחד שלא טעם טעם שמחה מי שלא טעם התרת הספיקות השכליות

and a wise man said that someone who has not tasted the resolution of (intellectual?) doubt has not tasted joy,

in connection with שמחת בית השואבה !

Metzudat David is from “18th century David Altschuler” and the Rema was born 1520.

So this is an earlier source but we do not know who the "Chochom Echod" was.

  • 3
    The Rema in his Shutim, siman 5 (first column), also phrases it as "מי שלא טעם שמחת ספיקות והתרתם", perhaps implying that not only the resolutions, but also the questions themselves contain an element of שמחה.
    – magicker72
    Feb 16, 2015 at 19:47

To add to Avrohom Yitzchok's answer:

The B'nei Yissaschar (Sivan 5:13; cf. Kisleiv 3:19) attributes this statement to the Rambam:

ואמר הרמב"ם מי שלא טעם טעם התרת הספיקות (בתורה) לא טעם שמחה מימיו


And the Rambam said, "Whoever has not tasted the taste of resolving doubts (in Torah), has not tasted joy all his days."

I don't know where in the Rambam's writings he may have meant, but, as R' Betzalel Shafran remarks in his responsa (vol. I, §82, fn. 1), this seems similar to the idea mentioned in the Rambam's Hil. T'shuva (8:2):

העולם הבא אין בו גוף וגויה אלא נפשות הצדיקים בלבד בלא גוף כמלאכי השרת... כך אמרו חכמים הראשונים העולם הבא... צדיקים יושבים ועטרותיהם בראשיהן ונהנין מזיו השכינה... וכן זה שאמרו עטרותיהן בראשיהן כלומר דעת שידעו שבגללה זכו לחיי העולם הבא מצויה עמהן והיא העטרה שלהן... והרי הוא אומר ושמחת עולם על ראשם ואין השמחה גוף כדי שתנוח על הראש כך עטרה שאמרו חכמים כאן היא הידיעה. ומהו זהו שאמרו נהנין מזיו שכינה שיודעים ומשיגין מאמתת הקב"ה מה שאינם יודעים והם בגוף האפל השפל

Translation of the Rambam:

There is no body or physical form in the World to Come, only the souls of the righteous without a body, like ministering angels.... So said the early sages, "In the World to Come... the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and enjoy the splendor of the Divine Presence"... That which they said, "their crowns on their heads," means that the knowledge that the righteous knew, on account of which they merited the life of the World to Come, will be found with them, and this is their crown....

And it says, "and eternal joy on their heads," though joy has no body with which to physically rest on a head. So too, the crown of which the sages spoke here refers to knowledge. And what is the meaning of that which they said, "enjoy the splendor of the Divine Presence"? That they will know and apprehend of the truth of the Holy One Blessed be He that which they did not know while in a dark and lowly body.

  • Re the Rambam, see my comment on the question re "hachoker". Any idea who that is?
    – msh210
    Feb 19, 2015 at 4:16
  • 1
    @msh210 That standalone appellation is sometimes used to refer to Aristotle, e.g. by the Abarbanel, Akeidat Yitzchak (frequently), R' Chasdai Crescas, and the Radbaz (all Spanish rabbis during the 14th-16th century, incidentally). The P'ri M'gadim (in his hakdama) cites R' Yosef Tzarfati (Yad Yosef, Va'eschanan) who in turn cites a statement from "hachokeir", also likely a reference to Aristotle. (Though the P'ri M'gadim in ראש יוסף on Chullin also refers to R' Yosef ibn Ezra as a chokeir, it's a qualified reference).
    – Fred
    Feb 19, 2015 at 6:02

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