Mishlei-Proverbs: Treasuring Wisdom
“My child: If you accept My words and treasure My commandments with yourself.” (Proverbs 2:1) The Gra focuses one the differences between “My words,” and “My commandments.” Why do “My words” call for acceptance, while
“My commandments,” demand being treasured?
He understands “My words” to refer to Torah, which must be studied day and night. Therefore Shlomo Hamelech describes a constant state of acceptance. However, “My commandments,’ Mitzvot, are not constant. One must treasure the Mitzvah until the time comes for its performance.
Why does the Gra say that we must treasure a Mitzvah until the proper time? How can we treasure a Mitzvah? Why do we need to treasure it when the Mitzvah does not apply?
The Maharal (Introduction to Derech Chaim) explains that the verse compares a Mitzvah to a candle, and Torah to light. A candle must have all its parts, the container, wick, oil and flame in order to burn and give light. So too, a Mitzvah is an external action without any light of its own, until the person adds the oil and the wick, his intellect, awareness and desire to his actions. The light of Torah is a constant. It is the light that emanates from the Mitzvah properly performed.
We must learn Torah day and night. When we learn an idea that adds depth to a Mitzvah, we must treasure that idea and save it until we have an opportunity to actually perform the Mitzvah with the added light we have discovered.
The Gra is teaching us that whenever we study Torah, we are discovering new ideas that will add layers of meaning to all we do. King Solomon reminds us that there is an intermediate step between Torah study and the performance of a Mitzvah: Treasuring the Torah we have learned, waiting for an opportunity to apply our newly acquired wisdom.
We must learn and practice how to treasure ideas. The first step is to review the new information until it is clear in our minds. We should then write it down. We can then consider the best way to apply the idea to our prayer or service of God.
An essential part of this process is to so love the new idea that we actually are filled with expectation over the opportunity to apply it to a Mitzvah.