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Mishlei: The Gift of Wisdom

“When wisdom enters your heart and knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2:10) I would spend every Friday afternoon of my first year in Rabbi Zweig’s Yeshiva in Miami, sitting at the feet of Rabbi M. who had served as a Poseik, (Halachic authority) in Auschwitz. I went to learn Halachah from the great rabbi, but learned something far more powerful:

Rabbi M’s approach can be encapsulated in his favorite saying, “When a Jew in the hell of Auschwitz requested a Halachic ruling before doing something, I understood that I was speaking to someone standing at Sinai! We heard the first two of the Ten Statements directly from God. That was not just a lecture but an experience that reshaped the marrow in our bones and the essence of our souls. Only someone who experienced the gift of the first two Statements would think of asking for Halachic guidance in Auschwitz.”

Rabbi M approached everything he studied and observed as addressing the part of his soul that stood at Sinai. He saw all Torah as a gift from God. It was never just information and rules. All Torah spoke to the part of his soul transformed by the gift of the experience of hearing Torah taught directly by God.

The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 41:6) teaches; “The entire forty days that Moshe spent in Heaven, he would learn Torah and then forget it. He said to God, ‘Master of the Universe! I have spent forty days and I don’t know anything!’ What did the Holy One, Blessed is He, do? He gave the Torah as a gift to Moshe.” It is only when we receive Torah as a gift that we can say, “When wisdom enters your heart and knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul.”

The entire Wisdom Course until this point has been to prepare us to receive Torah as a gift from God. It is the gift of Torah that enters our hearts. It is the gift of knowledge that is pleasant to our souls that stood at Sinai.

We must approach the Wisdom Course of Mishlei as a way of developing our souls to receive the gift of Torah. We must approach everything we learn as a gift designed to speak to the part of our souls that still stand at Sinai.

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