Mishlei: From Application To Awe To Higher Knowledge
“For only if you call out to understanding and give forth your voice to discernment, if you seek it as if it were silver, if you search for it as if it were hidden treasures, then you will understand the awe of God, and discover the knowledge of the Lord.” (Proverbs 2:3-5)
In our previous essay, Insight and Application, we described the process by which wisdom, leads to perception, Binah, and then to Tevunah as application. We concluded by saying that it is only at this point that we can, “Understand the fear of God, and discover the knowledge of the Lord.”
God and the Lord
I begin by apologizing for any confusion caused by my insistence on translating Hashem as God, and Elokim as the Lord. My father zt’l insisted that God is God, whether we accept Him or not as our Lord. I follow my father’s teachings and translate them as above.
Elokim describes our Lord, the One we obey as a “Lord,” and the One Who judges us, indicating His care for us and everything we do. Elokim also describes God as being above all other powers. It is the name of God that is universal, as in, “In the beginning the Lord created heaven and earth.”
Hashem is a proper name, a sign of a personal relationship.
Understanding & Discovery
Our verse focuses us on “Awe of the personal God,” and the knowledge of the Universal Lord.
Awe is a result of understanding. Knowledge is the result of a discovery process.
The Gra is bothered by the appearance of knowledge after understanding. Binah usually follows knowledge: A person receives knowledge and understands it well enough to apply the knowledge beyond its immediate context. Why does this verse describe knowledge as following Binah? He explains that the “discovery of the knowledge of the Lord,” describes the same level of knowledge as that of the Angels; How the Lord runs and directs the world.
When a person has experienced the expansion of Binah into Tevunah, meaning how knowledge begins to connect with all aspects of Torah, he will develop a sense of Awe of how everything is an expression of God’s unity. It is impossible for a human being to articulate this awareness. It is only accessible on a Binah level. True awe of God, connects me with Him on a personal level, hence, Hashem, and can only be reached through Binah.
This Binah of Awe of God transforms the way we receive knowledge. It is only after we have achieved Binah that we can begin to “know” the Lord, as do the Angels.
Our knowledge grew into Binah, developed into Tevunah, allowing us to experience the Binah of Awe of Hashem, then is transformed into an entirely different level of knowledge, equal to that of the Angels.
Thus, the following verse promises us an entirely new experience of Chochmah, Binah and Tevunah: “For God grants wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”