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Shir ha-Shirim XVII Part Six: Sefirah 36 Print E-mail

Shir HashirimRabbi Chanina the son of Rabbi Adda said in the name of Rabbi Tanchum bar Acha: And they (the words of the Sages) are even more stringent than the words of the Torah and the prophets, as it is written, “Do not preach! they preach (Micah 2:6).” They (the Scribes and Prophets) are like two agents whom a king sent to a province. Regarding one he wrote: If he shows you my signature and seal, trust him, but otherwise do not trust him. Regarding the other he wrote: Even if he does not show you my signature and seal, trust him. So of the words of prophecy it is written, “If there arises in your midst a prophet...and he gives you a sign (Devarim 13:2), but of the words of the Scribes it is written, “According to the law that they will teach you (12:11).” It does not say, ‘which the Torah will teach you,’ but, ‘which they will teach you.’ Nor does it say, ‘according to the judgments which it (the Torah) shall tell you,’ but, ‘which they shall tell you.”


“You shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare to you to the right nor to the left,” if they tell you that the right hand is right and the left hand is left, listen to them, and even if they tell you that the right hand is left and the left hand is right. (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1.2.2:6)

The people often said to the Prophets, “Do not preach!” This was despite the ‘signature and seal of the King,’ the sign proving they were prophets. The ‘signature and seal of the King,’ were not as impressive to the people as was the wisdom used by the Sages to apply Torah to each generation.

This was because, “even if they tell you that the right hand is left and the left hand is right,” meaning, who switches right and left? Someone who is facing the opposite direction; someone who views something from an entirely different perspective. The Sages consistently demonstrated that they viewed the world through a different lens. They had a different way of understanding everything around them. They did not allow themselves to be caught up in the immediate passions or movements of the moment; they viewed the world through Torah. The Sages had no ‘sign’ of authority other than their wisdom and perspective. This is what has always been of greater importance to Israel.

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