Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayakhel

Maintaining Greatness

The haftorah for this week’s parsha describes the efforts of the great King Shlomo in the construction of the First Temple. King Shlomo himself is a great and tragic figure. The attitude of the Talmud towards him is an ambivalent one.

On one hand, he is the builder of the Temple, the expander of the kingdom, the builder of great fortresses, and the administrator of twelve districts of his country. He is also the wisest of all men who understands even the sounds of animals and birds, the author of three of the great books of the Bible and someone upon whom the Divine Spirit itself has rested.

And yet on the other hand, the Talmud questions his right to immortality, criticizes his excesses and hubris, condemns his tolerance of the public support of idolatry by his foreign wives and even attributes the rise of Rome and the subsequent destruction of the Second Temple to his marrying the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Jewish legend actually has him driven off of his throne by a demon and having to wander in exile for part of his life. All of this naturally dims the luster of his great earlier accomplishment of building the Temple.

The haftorah parallels the parsha in the description of the work in constructing the mishkan and its artifacts, with the same type of artisanship in the creation of the Temple and its artifacts.

Shlomo, so to speak, becomes the second Moshe in supervising the building of the house of God. But, in the case of Moshe, the building of the mishkan was only one of his career’s accomplishments and was dwarfed by his major accomplishment of teaching and instilling Torah within the people of Israel. The building of the Temple by Shlomo was the highpoint of his career and afterwards he slipped off of the mighty pedestal of greatness that he had attained.

The Talmud teaches us that “happy are those whose later years do not shame their earlier accomplishments.” My old law school professor taught us that every lawyer makes a bad mistake at least once in his professional career. He also stated that those who are fortunate enough to make that mistake early in their career are truly blessed because they can recover and advance.

Making it late in one’s professional life can be disastrous to one’s reputation and life. The reverse trend may be true of accomplishments.

Early accomplishments can be very dangerous because they set a standard and inspire a sense of self aggrandizement that will prevent any further achievements. Only a gradual ascent and mature considerations, which usually are part and parcel of advancing years, can guarantee that those early achievements become lasting and untarnished by later behavior.

The comparison between the two great builders of God’s house – Moshe and Shlomo - is illustrative of this truth.

Building God’s house is a great achievement in itself. Maintaining it and using it for greater spiritual influence and instruction to the people of Israel is an even greater achievement.

Shabat shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON HAAZINU AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Learning History
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

The Kindness of Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5759

> Teshuva—Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5767

The Healer Is On-Call
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

To Walk With God
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Volume 25, No. 52
Shlomo Katz - 5771

Safely Carried on the Wings of Eagles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

Open Door Policy
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

ArtScroll

Thoughts for Pre-Rosh Hashanah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Time Is Now
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Humble Beginnings
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

Sensitivity Training
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5766

Elul
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5755



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information