Mishlei: Applying Acquired Wisdom
“To understand parable and epigram, the words of the wise, and their enigmas.” (Proverbs 1:6) King Solomon has been guiding us in appreciating wisdom and the advantages it offers from studying wisdom. In this the, the closing verse of his introduction to Proverbs (Gra), he tells us that the course on wisdom he offers in this book will change the way we understand and apply all aspects and levels of Torah. Basically, we will develop the ability to use all wisdom as practical advice.
The Vilna Gaon explains each step of this verse:
“To understand,” actually means to access the numerous branches of “Binah” as described in what follows. (Likutei HaGra)
“Mashal,” – parable: This refers to the Written Torah, which is actually Divine Wisdom wrapped in garments. “Just as when we cover something to make it attractive and accessible, so too, Divine Wisdom was presented to us in garments so that our first encounter will be attractive enough to catch our attention.” So too, the Torah is first presented to us on the most basic level, a garment, that hints to the wondrous ideas that lie within. The first level of understanding is to realize that the stories and information are only garments that will grant us access to what we can acquire when we work to understand Torah.
This does not mean that the stories are not true, but that although we may not understand what we can learn from them for practical living and building a relationship with God, we must understand that the story is only the surface of the Infinite Wisdom that lives underneath.
Everything in Torah can be used in the most practical ways in day to day living, which will, in turn, transform that living into a life mission and guide us in attaching to God. Every word and step of Wisdom is practical.
“Melitza,” – epigram: A Meilitz is an interpreter, as the Meilitz who stands between Joseph and his brothers. This refers to the inner wisdom of the Torah that lies hidden under the garment. King Solomon is teaching us that the Course in Wisdom of Mishlei, will serve as the interpreter that will translate the language of Hidden Wisdom into our immediate vocabulary. We will then begin to access one level after another of the Inner Wisdom
“Their enigmas,” The Aggadot of the Sages are presented in the forms of riddles. They do not intend to relate stories as anything other than riddles that will intrigue us to ponder their messages until we can understand..
“The words of the sages”: the true and deep messages they are conveying to people skilled enough in Wisdom to appreciate the layers of practical wisdom and solve the questions that are intentionally raised in each of their “riddles.’
Torah demands engagement. Its wisdom is infinite and demands work to be discovered and applied in practical ways. The purpose of Wisdom offered by King Solomon will teach us how to access and use the Infinite gifts of Torah.