Mishlei-Chapter 4-A Relationship With Wisdom
For I was a son to my father,
a tender only child for my mother.
And he taught me and said to me:
“Let your heart hold on to my words,
Keep my commands and live.
Get wisdom, get discernment.
Do not forget nor swerve from my mouth’s sayings.
Do not forsake her and she will guard you.
Love her and she will keep you.
The beginning of wisdom is – get wisdom,
and in all that you get, get discernment.
Dandle her and she will exalt you,
will honor you when you embrace her.
She will put a garland of grace on your head,
she will hand you a crown of splendor.”
I read these words before studying the commentaries and I hear the message of a father to a child pushing him to understand that one must not only acquire wisdom, one must have a relationship with wisdom.
Over the years, I have visited many colleges and universities with my children as they were trying to decide which school would be right for them. There was a fantastic presentation at each school. The students were given a picture of an entire culture committed to wisdom, research, growth and accomplishment. The presentations were never about the number of courses available, or the variety. All the presentations were focused on how a student could learn from great minds, and join their research programs in all sorts of new venues in science, philosophy, mathematics, physics and more. I envied my children having such an opportunity. I was so inspired by every presentation that I wanted to take a few years and go back to school.
My children were more interested in course requirements, which professors were easy graders, and the social life at the university. None of them approached this as an opportunity to live in a society of wisdom. They understood that they had to acquire wisdom; but they did not understand having a relationship with wisdom.
One of my fondest Yeshiva memories is from my father zt”l’s yeshiva in Toronto. Rather than have everyone study the same texts all day, everyday, he encouraged each of his students to choose to focus on a topic that was most meaningful to the student. My father had tens of students studying tens of different topics, and he regularly lectured in all of them. But all the students attended all the different lectures because they were attracted to a teacher who could speak with depth about any topic: they were attracted to the wisdom, not the information. These students learned how to have a relationship with wisdom.
The relationship influenced the way they acquired wisdom. The experience of wisdom changed them, and, I believe, influenced them to become great human beings and teachers.
The relationship with wisdom was the driving force behind all the stories that my grandfather zt”l used to tell of the great European rabbis he had known in his youth. Each story was a lesson in wisdom; not just an interesting story.
This, then, is what King Solomon is conveying to us in these verses; develop a relationship with wisdom. Don’t be satisfied with acquiring information. Love wisdom, love the way it will enrich your life, change you, inspire you, hold you steady, and guide you in using that relationship to develop the deepest relationship with the Source of all Wisdom, God.