Shir ha-Shirim VI: Part One: Emulation
Therefore it is written, “Instead of your fathers, shall be your sons (Psalms 45:17) .” You find cases of a righteous man having a righteous son, a wicked man having a wicked son, a righteous man with a wicked son, and a wicked man having a righteous son; and each is confirmed by a verse, in a popular proverb, and in a figure of speech.
But a righteous man can have a righteous son finds support in a verse and in a proper. It is written, “Instead of your fathers shall be your children.” In a proverb: “a scion which proved its stock.” (A fig that reflects well on the tree from which it came.)
That’s a wicked man may have a wicked child finds support in a verse, in a proverb, and in a figure of speech. The verse says, “And behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful man (Numbers 32:14).” In a proverb: “As the Proverbs of the ancients says; Out of the wicked comes wickedness (I Samuel 24:14).” In a figure of speech: “what bears the beetle? Insects worse than she.”
That a righteous man can have a wicked child is indicated in the verse, “Let thorns grow instead of wheat (Job 31:40),” and in the proverb, “They do not produce those like their own; they raise children far different from themselves.”
That a wicked man may have a righteous child is indicated in the verse, “Instead of the thorn will come up the Cyprus (Isaiah 55:13),” and in the proverb, “From the thorn bush comes forth the Rose.”
Solomon, however, was a king, son of a king, a wise man son of a wise man, a righteous man son of a righteous man, a nobleman son of a nobleman.
You find that whatever is stated about one is stated about the other: David reigned 40 years and Solomon reigned 40 years.
David ruled over Israel and Judah, and Solomon ruled over Israel and Judah.
His father built the foundations for the Temple, and he built the structure.
His father ruled from one end of the world to the other, and he ruled from one end of the world to the other.
David wrote books, and he wrote books.
David composed poems and he compose poems.
David spoke of the vanity of things and he spoke of the vanity of things.
David composed “words” and he composed “words.”
David authored Proverbs.
David praised God in a message commencing with “Then,” – Az – and Solomon prays to God in a passage commencing with “Then – Az.”
David built an altar, and Solomon built an altar.
David offered a sacrifice, and Solomon offered a sacrifice.
David brought up the Ark and Solomon brought up the Ark.
Since you are comparing him to his father, compare him in all particulars. Just as his father had all his sins forgiven, as it is written, “God has put away your sin, you shall not die (II Samuel 12:13),” so with Solomon too, and more still, there rested on him Divine Inspiration, and he composed three books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.
Solomon was not Solomon because of his father. A righteous man can have a wicked son. A wicked man can have a righteous son.
Solomon was Solomon because he chose to be like his father. He was therefore able to achieve a life without limitation, not even the limitations of his sins, for he, as was his father, was forgiven for his sins. Despite his mistakes, Solomon was granted the Divine Inspiration necessary to compose his three Books of Wisdom.
This midrash is teaching us that the diligent effort described earlier begins with aspiration. Solomon aspired to be as was his father. We, who are prepared to work to become those who serve God as a Song of Songs, must know to what we aspire, whom we desire to emulate.
When we begin to commit ourselves to a path in life we must remember to ask ourselves who are the people we want to emulate. That will help us focus and direct our “diligent work.”