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Shir ha-Shirim VII: Part Three: The Complete Poet

“And I applied my heart to seek and to explore, ve-latur, by wisdom “Ecclesiastes 1:13).” “Latur,” also has the sense of lehotir, to leave over. When a poet writes an alphabetical poem, sometimes he completes the alphabet, sometimes he does not. But Solomon made an alphabetical poem plus five letters (the five “final letters,’ or corresponding to the five letters of his mother’s name, Batsheva, or corresponding to the “five” letters of Shlomo [with a ‘strong’ final ‘Hei.’], As it is written, “And his song, shiro, was a thousand (‘Elef’ can be read “Alef,’ meaning the Alphabet) and five (I Kings 5:12),” as if to say, what was left over, “shi-uro,” (as in “shiro,”) from the alphabet was five.


Nor was it only words of Torah that Solomon searched out, but all that was done under the sun; for instance, how to sweeten mustard, how to sweeten lupines. The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Solomon: “You sought out words of Torah; I swear that I will not withhold your reward. Behold, I cause Divine Inspiration to rest on you.” Immediately, Divine Inspiration rested in him and he composed these three books; Proverbs, Kohelet, and The Song of Songs. (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:1.7 part three)

The only way that Solomon was able to compose a complete alphabetical poem with its plus of the “five letters,” was because he searched out all that was done under the sun, including what we would consider insignificant; “how to sweeten mustard, how to sweeten lupines.”

I believe that the “plus,” and the “insignificant” wisdom of sweetening mustard, are what allowed him to receive Divine Inspiration. It was his unceasing search for more wisdom so that he could more fully understand the words of Torah, “You sought out words of Torah,” that elevated him to a level above and beyond wisdom as we know it, to the level of wisdom directed and articulated by Divine Inspiration.

In order to merit the Pesach Divine Inspiration we too must be fully committed to this idea of “more and more,” “everything under the sun,” to understand that we will never fully be considered those who “seek out words of Torah,” until we concomitantly search for the “more.” We cannot be satisfied with what has been taught; we must seek out more. We must approach all our learning, but especially our Pesach conversations and articulation, with a sense that there is always more, and that nothing, no detail, is insignificant, even, “how to sweeten mustard.”

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