Talmid chacham or תלמיד חכם in Hebrew means a learned wise person.
Yesterday, while out with my best friend, roaming the streets of Jerusalem (mainly Geula but then also by the shuk), I went over to the owner of a photography store and asked him, “Do you have posters that show stories from the Torah (the Bible)?”
He said, “All the photography I sell is pictures I’ve taken around Jerusalem (and Israel). So, I can sell you my photography and I’ll tell you stories from the Torah.”
He then proceeded to show me and my friend a photograph of Ma’arat Hamachpeila in Hebron and he told us the story about how Avraham purchased the area, including quotes from midrashim.
Then he pointed to a picture of a sun clock and gave us the history behind it.
This man was not wearing a kippa. I was amazed at his knowledge of the texts and of the history of the area.
I don’t know his background – maybe he was brought up religious – but I think it’s a shame that people without kippot today are not being brought up with that amount of knowledge of their own heritage.