Weekly Torah Commentary -Trumah March 3, 2017

Torah reading: Exodus 25:1-27:19

Haftorah reading: I Kings 5:26 – 6:13

This week’s haftorah reading opens with these words: The LORD had given Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him.  I Kings 5:26

Solomon has long been associated with wisdom for it is written of him that ‘God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.’ I Kings 4:29-30.

So profound was his wisdom that we read four verses later: Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom. I Kings 4:34

wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.  As a virtue, it is a habit or disposition to perform the action with the highest degree of adequacy under any given circumstance with the limitation of error in any given action. This implies a possession of or the seeking of knowledge to apply to the given circumstance. (Wikipedia)

Wisdom involves an understanding of people, objects, events, situations, and the willingness as well as the ability to apply perception, judgment and action for the optimal course of action. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions as well so that reason prevails to determine one’s action. In summary, wisdom is the ability to find the truth coupled with the right judgment as to what actions should be taken.

Solomon is about to commence building the Temple, one of the greatest construction projects of all time.  His wisdom dictated every phase of the building process so that in the end, the Temple of God in Jerusalem was known to the world of that day as a most magnificent and stunning edifice.

The temple is called the house of the Lord, because it was directed and modeled by Him, and was to be employed in his service. Far beyond all its visible beauty, however, it was adorned with the beauty of holiness for it was unique, the earthly Temple of the God of Israel.

There is a very interesting aspect to this construction project: no iron tool was allowed to be used in the construction process.  The Temple was built in an atmosphere of quietness and silence.  Imagine being able to witness such a project yourself.  Construction sites are usually so noisy but not this one. It had to have been amazing.

But beyond that, there is a message we dare not miss.  All our service to God should be done with as much wisdom and attention to detail as Solomon employed in building the physical Temple. God’s work should also be done ‘quietly’ by those who serve Him.  By ‘quietly’ I mean, that our service to the LORD should be carried out in a humble spirit that does not draw attention to ourselves but to Him.

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan is reported to have kept on his desk a plaque that said, There is no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.  An accurate and succinct description of what it means to fulfill our duties ‘quietly’; in other words, not requiring attention and approval at every turn.

The book of Proverbs, written by Solomon, has much to say about wisdom.  Here are just a few of its descriptions:

Proverbs 2:2  Make your ear attentive to wisdom,incline your heart to understanding.

Proverbs 3:13. How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.

Proverbs 8:11. For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her.

Proverbs 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 11:2. When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:16. How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.

Proverbs 19:18. He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.

In Tune with Torah this week = like Solomon, we are enjoined to ask God for wisdom for He gives it willingly to those who ask.  And not just once – we may ask for wisdom continually for throughout life we meet all sorts of challenges and situation. Wisdom is indeed necessary in all of our affairs and relationships.

May He grant it in full measure to all who ask.

Shabbat Shalom

 

 

 

Weekly Torah Commentary – Vayechi January 13, 2016

Torah reading:  Genesis 47:28-50:26

Haftorah reading: I Kings 2:1-12

Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ ”  I Kings 2: 1-4

daviddeath

David, son of Jesse – Israel’s greatest king, apart from the Messiah – recognized that he was but a man and shared the common destiny of all men. Knowing he would soon pass from this life, David gave a final charge to his son, Solomon.

Perhaps David sensed some weakness in Solomon. Perhaps he knew Solomon would be tested in far greater ways than he was. Whatever the exact reason was, David knew Solomon needed strength and courage. Great responsibilities require great strength and courage.

David also knew that Solomon could not be strong or courageous without obedient fellowship with God. In this place of obedient fellowship, Solomon would prosper in all that he did.

David had a general reason to exhort Solomon to obedience, but he also had a specific reason, a specific promise of God. God promised David that as long as his sons walked in obedience, they would keep the throne of Israel. This was an amazing promise. No matter what the Assyrians or the Egyptians or the Babylonians did, as long as David’s sons were obedient and followed God with their heart and with all their soul, God would establish and protect their kingdom.

We love to read about the promises of God but sometimes overlook the condition tied to those promises.  The book of Deuteronomy is filled with the repetition of the words:  “If you will….I will…”  If WE will love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength, than HE will dispense blessing, protection and prosperity of soul and body to us in proportion to our obedience to Him.  This is an uncompromising principle in God’s Word.

Here are some examples of this principle:

Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all the nations you will be My treasured possession.  Exodus 19:5

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep His covenant of love with you, as He swore to your forefathers.  Deut. 7:12

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from the way that I command you today by following other gods which you have not known.   Deut. 11:26-28

If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.   Psalm 91:9-10

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land… Isaiah 1:18-19

The promises of God can be likened to a spiritual bank account.  He has placed those promises on deposit, not because of anything we have done but because of His own eternal covenantal integrity.  Our means of accessing those promises is obedient faith; i.e., to believe what God has said and to walk according to His ways.  That is what ‘takes us to the bank to make a withdrawal’.  To attempt a withdrawal without the ‘access code’ will get you nowhere!  Our ‘access code’ is obedience to the conditions.

God wants us to benefit from His promises.  If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have made them!

Application:

This Shabbat would be a great time to take the scriptures quoted above and in quiet reflection, examine our own hearts to see if there are conditions we have overlooked, dismissed or ignored.  Repentance is the way back.  May we all live in such a way that the blessings of the promises of God can flow freely into our lives.

Shabbat Shalom