Vol. 6 No. 22
Honey and Wisdom
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)
"Eat honey, my son, because it is good, and drippings, which are sweet on your palate. So you should know (seek) wisdom for your soul - if you find it, you will have a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (Mishlei 24:13-14).
Shlomoh ha'Melech is comparing wisdom, an intellectual, rational delight, to honey, which is a physical, instinctive one. Indeed, this is the method that he very often employs in Mishlei. He adopts parables from the physical issues in which a human being is steeped, adapting them to the rationale, to convince it to make the right decisions.
It is well known that the tangible world is divided into four progressive levels of creation: still-life (such as mountains and hills - which have no soul at all); plant-life (such as flowers and trees - which possess a soul of growth); living creatures (such as the animals - which, in addition, have a soul of movement); and speaking creatures (human beings - who, above all, possess a soul of wisdom). And it is in that progressive order that they first appear at the creation of the world: dry land, plants, animals and man, in the reverse, regressive order to which the heavenly bodies were created - first light, then the heavens and then the luminaries.
And it is because man is connected to the plants through his soul of growth, and to the animals through his soul of movement, that it was necessary to imbibe him with a soul of wisdom, in order that his intellect should control his natural instincts.
As has already been mentioned, the order of the four levels is progressive. Consequently, man's creation is a test of supremacy between the intellect and the instinct - should the former vanquish the latter, it makes the victor an 'Angel of G-d'; whereas should the latter vanquish the former, it renders him like an animal.
That is why Dovid ha'Melech warns us in Tehillim (32:9-10) to follow our rationale - failing which, we are like a horse and a mule.
Shlomoh too, points out the harm that is caused by obeying one's natural instincts. Man is instinctively lazy, he says. He would not even bother to look for food, clothes or a house, even though these are his basic needs. It is his rationale that prompts him to make the effort - by convincing him that food will save him from starvation, clothes from the cold and from embarrasment, and a house from the cold and the heat - because the intellect understands this, whereas the natural instinct does not.
And even after he comes to the realisation that he will starve if he does not eat, his primitive instinct tells him that the way out of his predicament is to steal, to rob and to cheat (wealth that is easily obtained); but his rationale awakens him to the shame and disgrace that await him in this world and the eternal punishment in the World to Come, if he follows the dictates of his heart.
Man's primitive instinct craves pleasure, lewdness and adultery - because that desire has been implanted into him in order to have children. But his rationale convinces him that the sweetness that he craves will turn bitter in his mouth - it will be sharp and damaging like a two-bladed sword.
Just as humans and animals alike will run away from a fire - for fear that they will get burned; from deep water - for fear that they will drown, and from a frightening noise, in terror, so too, does the rationale teach the primitive instinct to run away from performing evil, from hearing it or from speaking it. And it proves its point from the person's reaction in the above cases.
That is why Shlomoh ha'Melech constantly uses physical analogies to convey spirituality. He compares trust in G-d to a strong fortress, conjuring up in the mind the safety and security of the person taking refuge in a fortified castle, and convincing him that someone who places his trust in G-d is equally safe - and even more so, because the enemy can still set fire to the fortress.
He compares G-d's control over the hearts of kings to pools of water - which are vital to man's existence (like a king is to his subjects), and can be made to flow in any direction; theft to birds who fly into a trap to obtain the corn and then cannot extricate themselves; and adultery to somene who falls into a deep pit from which he cannot escape.
He compares the sin of revealing secrets to a city without a wall around it, and that of living with a married woman to walking on coals, whose sin is two-fold - touching her (which he portrays as his clothes getting burned) and the act itself (as the person).
Because the primitive instinct and the intellect are as distant from each other as light is from darkness, Shlomoh finds it necessary to bring them together by means of simple analogies that speak for themselves.
That is why, in Koheles (2:13) Shlomoh compares the advantage of wisdom over foolishness to that of light over darkness. For you see, the primeval instinct of man sees only what is before it, but not the end result. When someone plants a seed, he dirties it and destroys it - instinctive man considers this an act of folly, for he thinks that more would be gained by eating it. It is the intellect that teaches him the multiple long-term benefits of planting it.
And it is for the very same reason that the Torah in Ha'azinu refers to the stories of the early generations, to demonstrate the end reward of the tzadikim who followed their intellect, and the ultimate retribution that the resho'im suffered because they followed their primeval instincts - such as the generation of the flood, which was destroyed, and No'ach and his sons, who were saved.
The primeval instinct of man chooses to lie and to speak loshon ho'ra. It loves rest and laziness but rejects giving charity, for fear that it may lead to poverty; fasting, because it might result in sickness; and wisdom, because of the effort involved. Comes the intellect and warns him to avoid rest and laziness (because it leads to a sagging beam and a leaking house), lies (because they result in his disassociation with the Shechinah) and loshon ho'ra (because it causes death). And it instructs him to pursue wisdom, which gives him rewards, both in this world and in the next.
Just as honey is good for the body and sweet to the palate, so too, is wisdom sweet to the soul. The difference between them is that wisdom "has a future", for it is beneficial both in this world and in the next, whereas the sweetness of honey is confined to this world. The benefits of wisdom will not be cut off, whereas those of honey will.
Shlomoh used the example of honey, because there is no physical commodity that is sweeter than honey - but wisdom is sweeter than it, as Dovid his father said in Tehilim "and sweeter than honey and than the dripping from the honey-combs". What he therefore means to say is that in the same way as the body derives much pleasure from honey, so does the soul derive much pleasure from wisdom. And we see this at Mattan-Torah, where the Torah writes "And they saw G-d, and they ate and drank", comparing the pleasure of seeing the face of the Shechinah to the pleasure of eating and drinking.
Moshe too, remained on the mountain for forty days without eating or drinking, because his soul derived such pleasure from its closeness to G-d, that the body was able to survive on it (in the same way as the soul is normally sustained by the food that the body eats). And this great level Moshe retained for a hundred and twenty days, from the sixth of Sivan until Yom Kipur, when he descended with the second Luchos. He went up for the last time on Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Ellul (see Rav Shavel's notes) and he came down on Monday, Yom Kipur. The following day he commanded the construction of the Mishkon - that is the gathering of the entire congregation that is mentioned here.
Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim
The Princes and the Clouds
"And the princes brought the onyx stones and the filling-stones for the Efod and the Choshen" (35:27).
The Ba'al ha'Turim quotes a Targum Yerushalmi, which translates "ha'nesi'im" not as 'the princes', but as 'the clouds' (as in "ma'aleh nesi'im" - He causes the clouds to rise ..." (Tehilim 135:7).
According to the Targum Yonoson, the clouds drew the precious stones from the River Pishon and deposited them in the desert together with the Mon, which the princes would later collect. He appears to give the words "ve'hanesi'im heivi'u" a dual meaning.
According to Rashi, the princes had been lax inasmuch as instead of donating for the Mishkon immediately, they volunteered to donate whatever was missing at the end.
They did not contend with the eventuality of the rest of Yisroel donating all that was needed, leaving them with nothing to donate - which is precisely what happened.
If not for the miracle of the clouds, they would not have been able to participate in the donation at all!
Betzalel's name is not mentioned in connection with the holy vessels, except by the Oron (possuk 38:27), where the Torah writes "And Betzalel made the Oron" - to teach us that he was in the shadow of G-d ('be'tzel Keil'), that he knew the secrets of the Oron and the Merkovoh (G-d's throne and the angels that support it), since the Oron corresponded to G-d's throne. Indeed, our Sages say that he knew the combination of letters that G-d used to create the world - and he could have done likewise!
"And Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur ... ". Three times in the Torah, Betzalel's lineage is spelled out, corresponding to the three areas in which he was supreme - in chochmah. tevunah and da'as (wisdom, understanding and knowledge).
One Hundred Sockets
There were one hundred sockets, and, corresponding to them, David ha'Melech instituted one hundred b'rochos daily.
What is the connection between the two?
Perhaps it is the fact that the sockets were the basis of the Mishkon, much in the same way as 'Omein' is the basis of our Tefilos - and tefilah is the replacement of Avodah in the Mishkon and the Mikdosh. In addition, the very word 'Adonim' (sockets) has powerful connotations of Hashem's Name, which is the very essence of 'Omein' (the acronym of 'Keil, Melech, Ne'emon').
And the Work of the Mishkon was Finished
"Va'Teichel kol avodas Mishkan ... " has the same numerical value as "be'esrim va'chamishoh be'Kislev nigmar" - it was completed on the twenty-fifth of Kislev. Our sages tell us that the Mishkon was not erected immediately - that honour was reserved for Nissan, the month in which Yitzchok was born. However, Hashem never withholds honour that is due from any of his creations (even if they are only days). Consequently, he reserved the twenty-fifth of Kislev for a later date - the day on which He performed the miracle of the lights, which we celebrate in the form of Chanukah.
The Pillars of the World
Besides here, in posuk 39:40, the word "amudeha" (its pillars) appears three more times in T'nach - each time with reference to the pillars of the world, because the pillars on which the Mishkon stand, are at one and the same time, the pillars on which the world stands since it is on the merit of the Mishkon (and the Mikdosh) that the entire world exists.
"Like Hashem Commanded Moshe"
This phrase (or a slight variation of it) appears by every detail concerning the final construction of the Mishkon - eighteen times in all. Because Moshe asked Hashem to erase his name from the Torah (following the sin of the golden calf), Hashem inserted it again and again (by the construction of the Mishkon, which came to atone for the sin of the golden calf) - especially as, in most cases, the word 'him' would have sufficed.
Corresponding to these eighteen times, Chazal instituted the eighteen b'rochos of the Amidah (since the institution of Tefillah is to replace the Mishkon and the Mikdosh). And corresponding to the one time that the Torah writes "like Hashem commanded them so they did", Chazal added 've'la'Malshinim' the nineteenth b'rochoh (see also the first Ba'al ha'Turim in Tetzaveh).
The sum total of words of all these is 113, and the sum total of the concluding b'rochoh of each of the nineteen b'rochos of the Amidah also totals 113.
The word 'Leiv' also appears in the Chumash 113 times - because tefillah requires 'kavonas ha'leiv' (devotion).
History of the World
(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)
Chagai prophesies in the second year of Daryovesh the second's reign. On the 24th Ellul they begin preparing the materials for the construction of the Beis ha'Mikdosh, and on the 24th Kislev they begin building. The actual construction takes four years.
In the second Beis ha'Mikdosh there is no Oron, no Keruvim and no Urim ve'Tumim (the Name of Hashem in the folds of the Choshen Mishpot). The fire that descended in the days of Shlomoh ha'Melech and that crouched on the Mizbe'ach like a lion and devoured the sacrifices, was hidden since the days of Menasheh. During the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdosh, the fire appears in the form of a dog and does not devour the korbonos.
There is no Shechinah and no Ruach ha'Kodesh, and the bottle of mon and Aharon's stick remain hidden, together with the Oron ha'Kodesh.
The Beis ha'Mikdosh is completed in the sixth year of Daryovesh the second, also known as Artachshasta, though the walls of Yerushalayim are completed only many years later. As they are under the jurisdiction of Persia and Medes, they are forced to include a replica of Shushan the capital of Persia in the Heichal. They place it on top of the gate leading to the Har ha'Bayis.
Boruch ben Neriyah dies in Shushan. Ezra leaves Bovel and moves to Eretz Yisroel, bringing with him many exiles, including all those whose pedigree is impure - leaving Bovel pure. He separates the non-Jewish women (whom many have married). Then, together with Nechemyoh, he proceeds to build the walls of Yerusholayim.
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