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Mishlei: Child, Wisdom & Heart

“My child, do not forget My Torah, and let your heart guard My commandments.” (Proverbs 3:1) The heart is the source of Awe of God, as we see in the Talmud: R. Samuel b. Nahmani, in the name of R. Jonathan: What is the meaning of the scriptural statement: “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool, to buy wisdom, seeing he hath no understanding.”  Woe unto the enemies of the scholars, who occupy themselves with the Torah, but have no fear of heaven! (Yoma 72b)

There is no comparison between Mitzvot fulfilled with a heart full of awe and those observed without the heart, regarding which Isaiah said, “It has distanced its heart from Me – their fear of Me is like rote learning of human commands.” (29:13)

However, we cannot achieve a heart full of awe without Torah: “A boor cannot be fearful of sin.” (Avot 2:6)

Therefore, Solomon teaches us, “My child, do not forget My Torah, and let your heart guard My commandments.” The Torah will nurture the observance of commandments with a heart full of awe. This is only for those who approach their Torah study as, “My children,” learning Torah as if hearing the words of a father to a son.

It is only those who study as a child of God, “Is Ephraim My favorite son or a delightful child, that whenever I speak of him I remember him more and more? Therefore, My  inner self yearns for him,” (Jeremiah 31:19) whose Torah study will nurture a heart filled with awe so that he, the child, will perform and study with awe, and achieve true greatness.

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