Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gift Of Wisdom Is The Gift Of Fear

When King Solomon succeeded his father as King at a very young age, Hashem asked him to request what He should give him. Imagine having such a wish! King Solomon requested an understanding heart, the ability to judge the Jewish People, and to be able to distinguish between good and evil. In other words, the request was for wisdom, חכמה. But what King Solomon was really wishing for was "the fear of G-d." He remembered what his father, King David had said in Tehillim 111(10), that "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem." And so at the beginning of Proverbs, King Solomon repeats this teaching of his father by saying in 1(7) that "the fear of Hashem is the beginning of knowledge." But he goes further by adding that "foolish ones scorn wisdom (that is the fear of G-d) and discipline." They don't follow G-d's guidelines for a good life and use their own twisted logic to justify their inappropriate actions.
How interesting it is that one of the first blessings we make every day, a blessing that we say every time we leave the bathroom, begins with words blessing G-d for fashioning man with wisdom, חכמה. While fools never have G-d on their mind, righteous people think about, and thank G-d constantly. And that includes routine trips to relieve ourselves. We thank Hashem for giving us an understanding that He created us with a body so perfected in its function. We realize that if just one small opening would be ruptured we could not survive and continue to serve Him. With wisdom we can understand and appreciate Hashem's care in creating our bodies and maintaining and healing them when needed. Knowing this can indeed cause us to fear G-d because of His constant watch of our thoughts and actions. It certainly is not difficult to fear G-d when we are ill, or suffering or exposed to dangers. That is a natural human emotion. We can actually sense the might of G-d touching us. But a higher level of the fear of G-d is when things are going well in our lives. When Hashem has granted us the fulfillment of our prayers, when happiness and satisfaction has surrounded us, when love and contentment and sufficient wealth has filled our moments, that is the time to experience true wisdom and fear G-d. When we understand that G-d has focused His attention upon us and has given us what we desired, we should be in awe of Him and try our utmost not to disappoint Him. Like a child who does not want to disappoint his parents after they have rewarded him with a gift, we too should not disappoint Hashem after He has fulfilled our lives with goodness. We should fear that we might lose the good that we were gifted, or that we did not deserve this kindness in the first place. We should be flattered that G-d has demonstrated that there is a connection between Him and our lives. We should fear that someday we might cause this union to be severed.
When we have true wisdom through the fear of G-d we have a feeling that we can call on Hashem whenever we need Him. And we have the confidence that He will grant us what we request of Him. We will call upon Him constantly, just like a friend. We will talk to Him constantly and will establish a close relationship with Him. That is true wisdom. That is true חכמה. Indeed, the atbash gematria of חכמה is 190, the same value as יענני, "He will answer me."
May we all establish a close relationship to G-d, call on Him constantly, and may He always answer us when we call.

1 comment:

  1. Dr.Wolf,

    Could you please tell me when you will be on the Tamar Yonah Show. I listened last night 8/31, but it was a rebroadcast of another show. Thank you Nora Williams