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Shabbat Parashat Teruma 5779

Parashat Hashavua: Shlomos Wisdom and the Wisdom of His Gentile Friends

Harav Yosef Carmel

Our haftara begins with the statement that Hashem gave wisdom to Shlomo as he had promised (Melachim I, 5:26). The navi actually mentions Shlomo’s wisdom in several p’sukim in this section, stating that he was wiser than other famous wise men and that his wisdom was well-known throughout the world (ibid. 9-11). The wisdom being discussed is “universal” wisdom (the word being connected to the institution of a university), which was studied in the leading academic centers throughout the Middle East.

The navi also tells of the correspondence between Shlomo and Chiram the king of Tzor (Tyre), who had been a friend of David (ibid. 15-21). Shlomo told Chiram of his plans to build the Beit Hamikdash and of his request that Chiram help by cutting down cedar trees and sending them to Shlomo. Shlomo confided in Chiram that he was aware that no one knows how to cut trees like the people of Tzor.

These p’sukim illustrate the exchange of scientific/technological information between the leaders of these two friendly nations. This helped facilitate the great engineering accomplishment of building the Beit Hamikdash, a project that excited people throughout the world. We see elsewhere that the people of Tzor were known for their wisdom, as Yechezkel spelled out clearly in his lamentation over them (Yechezkel 28:2-5). Therefore, it is natural that Shlomo sought out their assistance. This is in line with what Chazal tell us: “If you are told that there is wisdom among the nations, believe them; … there is Torah among the nations, do not believe them” (Eicha Rabba 2:13).

Scientific and technological cooperation with the nations of the world can bring great advantages and can sanctify Hashem’s Name throughout the world. Every Nobel laureate who is Jewish and especially who is Israeli, promotes such gains. Every Israeli innovation that advances the world is a valuable blessed matter, and we applaud the State of Israel’s steps to encourage such accomplishments.

Let us pray to see Hashem’s return to Zion, whereby Jerusalem will be the center of the world for Torah and spirituality for the whole world.

(As we complete the topic, let us just state for the record that the wisdom of Shlomo that we have been discussing is not that which Shlomo prayed for in Givon (Melachim I, 3). There he asked for wisdom that he could use to properly judge his people. That is why it is followed by the story of Shlomo’s famous court case. We will continue with a discussion of the different types of wisdom in the near future.)

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