Megillas Koheles

On Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos we read Megillas Koheles. We present here a commentary by the Maggid, taken from Ohel Yaakov, parashas Noach, on one of the verses in Koheles.
Shlomo HaMelech declares (Koheles 2:12): “I then turned my attention to analyze wisdom, madness, and folly, for who is man to approach the King about what He has already done.” The Midrash in Shemos Rabbah 6:1 explains this verse as an expression of regret on Shlomo’s part for having taken many wives, contrary to a Torah law. The Torah states (Devarim 17:17): “He must not take many wives (lo yarbeh lo nashim), so that his heart will not go astray.” Shlomo second-guessed this Divine decree, saying that he could take many wives while keeping his heart from going astray. At that moment, the Midrash says, the letter yud in the word yarbeh prostrated itself before Hashem and exclaimed: “Master of the Universe! Didn’t You say that no letter in the Torah will ever be nullified? But, behold, Shlomo has risen up and nullfied me. So today he has nullified one letter. Perhaps tomorrow he will nullify another, and afterward still another, continuing until he nullfies the entire Torah.” Hashem replied: “Shlomo and a thousand others like him will be nullified, but I will not nullify you in the slightest, not even the little point at your top.”
Eventually, as Melachim Alef 11:4 records, Shlomo’s wives turned his heart astray: The wives he took from foreign nations returned to idol worship, and he improperly allowed them to continue their idolatrous practices. Shlomo then expressed his regret, as described above. He was saying: “I played wise with the Torah’s words, and I convinced myself that I understood the Torah’s intent, but my way of understanding was but madness and folly. For who is man to approach the King about what He has already done – who has the right to judge what the King of Kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He, has decreed. … I tried to judge what He established, and I therefore stumbled.”
Shlomo concluded, after a careful self-appraisal, that taking many wives would not lead him astray, but nonetheless he did go astray. How could Shlomo, with his great wisdom, suffer such a fiasco? It appears from the Midrash that the explanation is as follows. Shlomo assumed that the reason the Torah states for prohibiting a king from taking many wives was the only reason for the prohibition, and then, based on his conclusion that this reason did not apply to him, gave himself license to nullify the prohibition in his case. He did not recognize that Hashem had additional, hidden reasons for imposing the prohibition. Hashem therefore deliberately arranged that Shlomo’s wives would indeed lead him astray, as punishment for tampering with the Torah’s laws. In the end, Shlomo admitted his mistake, and recognized how he had been punished for what he did.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.