An editorial Introduction
The Torah Science Foundation is pleased to present “The Wisdom of King Solomon” to our web site visitors. This article provides us with far-reaching insight on an integral relationship between Torah and science. For some, the realms of Torah and science should be kept safely separated. For others, the Torah is a complete source of wisdom and knowledge that makes science dispensable. For others, science provides an increasingly complete explanation of the universe that does not require the involvement of divine forces.
The unique viewpoint of "The Wisdom of King Solomon" is that not only Torah and science are meant to interact, but they are meant to interact in a precise and specific fashion. Central to this viewpoint is the concept that science is the most recent and advanced expression of "Chochmat Ha'umot", the wisdom of the nations. So defined, the relationship between Torah and the sciences constitutes the latest instance of the relationship between the Torah and the wisdom of the nations.
We are also taught in “The Wisdom of King Solomon” that the world was created in a state of goodness and perfection. Both the Jewish people, with the help of the Torah, and the nations with the help of their wisdom, strive to restore the perfection of the world.
The remarkable conceptual breakthrough of “The Wisdom of King Solomon” is the precise description of the process whereby the interaction between the Torah and the sciences contributes to the process of rectification of the world. The sciences embody sparks of holiness and truth that reveal the wonders of creation. Scientific knowledge is meant to be refined by the wisdom of the Torah, and the essence of such rectification is the injection of pure faith into the wisdom of the sciences. Thus, the Torah fertilizes the wisdom of the sciences with the power of faith and belief. And thus fertilized, scientific knowledge becomes a key instrument in the revelation of new secrets of the Torah.
Contemporary developments in physics and cosmology, in which scientists are asking questions about the origin of the universe that were considered completely out of bounds of the scientific discourse not long ago, provides us with a most plausible scenario for a fertilization of the sciences by Torah wisdom.
The implications of the integral relationship between the Torah and science described in “The wisdom of King Solomon” are exhilarating. Our visitors can find some specific details about a rigorous methodology for Torah-science interactions in our feature on Torah science methods. Enjoy.
THE WISDOM OF KING SOLOMON
Every true Jewish leader possesses a clear vision and plan of how
to restore the world in its entirety to its original state of goodness and
perfection (and, indeed, of how to elevate the world to a state of Divine
consciousness never experienced before). This is the goal of all mankind,
as we proclaim in the Aleinu prayer: “to rectify the world under the
kingdom of the Almighty.”
Of all Biblical archetypes, it was King Solomon who demonstrated
this consciousness most. He knew how to deal properly with the nations
of the world (many of whom came to Jerusalem to see him and visit the
holy Temple that he built) and to elevate their wisdom and their intrinsic
cultural senses of beauty and aesthetics.
This consciousness will manifest itself consummately in the
person of the Messiah, as the Rambam writes: “He will rectify the whole
world...to serve G-d together. As it is written, ‘At that time, I will bring
all nations to speak with one tongue, all to call upon G-d and serve Him
The Rectification of the World by Means of the Seven Noahide
The Torah’s means of rectifying the seventy nations of the world is
the seven Noahide commandments. The Rambam writes that G-d
commanded Moses to teach all of the people of the world to accept these
commandments. Any non-Jew who accepts them and is careful to
perform them properly, the Rambam writes, attains the status of a
“righteous gentile” and thereby merits a place in the World to Come. This
is true, of course, only when he keeps these commandments because he
was so commanded by G-d in the Torah. Thus, the true rectification of the
nations occurs only when they surrender in truth—just as the Jewish
people—to the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven as revealed in the Torah.
This rectification, like all processes of spiritual growth, must occur
in the order of “submission, separation, and sweetening,” as taught by the
Ba’al Shem Tov. First, the nations must submit themselves to the Jewish
people, the custodians and teachers of the Torah, since the Torah is the
sole and ultimate source of their obligation to fulfill the seven
commandments given to them. True submission—whether of man to G-d
or man to fellow man—is the soul’s way of giving of thanks for the gift
of true enlightenment. Despite the Torah’s explicit focus on the Jewish
nation, there is indeed much in the Torah that can enlighten and influence
the nations of the world on their level. (This is similar to our sages’
teaching that G-d suspended Mt. Sinai over the Jewish people in order to
coerce them to accept the Torah. In Hassidut we are taught that the
“mountain” was in fact G-d’s infinite love; G-d coerced the Jewish people
to accept His Torah by overwhelming them with His love.)
After this submission, the nations must acknowledge the
separation, i.e., the difference between them and the Jewish people.
Only after the separation can come the sweetening, the completion,
the transformation of the nations mentioned before: “I will bring all
nations...to call upon G-d and serve Him together.”
According to our sages, there are seventy archetypal non-Jewish
nations. All non-Jews, past, present, and future, belong to one or another
of these seventy nations.
As is taught in Hassidut, the seventy nations are a reflection of the
seven Divine emotional and behavioral attributes (midot), from chesed to
malchut. This is the source of their spiritual nourishment. These seven
attributes are manifest in man’s body as his torso and limbs. In contrast,
the Jewish people are a reflection of the three higher Divine intellectual
attributes, chochmah, binah, and da’at. The name of the Jewish nation,
Israel, is in Hebrew a permutation of the words for “a head for Me” (li rosh).
The seven Noahide commandments correspond to the seven Divine
attributes that are the source of the seventy nations. By accepting the
seven Noahide commandments, the nations draw Divine intellect into the
emotions and thereby rectify them. As a result, the nations feel the Divine
goodness associated with the commandments they perform.
The Rectification of the Wisdom of the Nations
Aside from the non-Jews’ acceptance of the seven Noahide
commandments, the rectification of the world further depends upon the
refinement of the wisdom of the nations. Again, we take our clue from
King Solomon: “G-d gave wisdom to Solomon…. And the wisdom of
Solomon increased, and he became wiser than any other person, and his
fame spread among all the nations. He taught three thousand parables,
and he was able to speak to the trees, to the animals, to the birds, to the
insects, and to the fish. And all the nations came to hear Solomon’s
wisdom” (1 Kings 5:9-14).
Our sages teach us that the nations indeed possess human wisdom,
but they do not possess the Divine wisdom of the Torah (Eichah Rabbah
2:13). Their wisdom therefore needs to be refined and elevated by the
Torah, which was given exclusively to the Jewish people. After the
wisdom of the nations undergoes this true “conversion,” the Torah can
incorporate it into the pure faith of Israel. This is the mystical meaning of
the statement “believe in the wisdom of the nations,” taking the word
“believe in...” (ta’amin) to mean “incorporate [the wisdom of the nations]
under the wings of faith.”
We can do this the same way King Solomon did, through the
strength and holiness inherent in the wisdom of Torah. As it is written,
“King Solomon possessed the wisdom of G-d, which enabled him to
execute justice.” He was able to apply the Torah’s wisdom to the wisdom
of nature and the wisdom of material reality. As it is written, “Solomon’s
wisdom flourished” and multiplied, as it is said, “G-d gives [the] wisdom
[to apply the Torah to worldly wisdom] only to somebody who already
possesses [the] wisdom [of the Torah],” and, similarly, “G-d gives
wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the wise.”
As is taught in Hassidut, the wisdom of the nations contains
“sparks” of holiness and truth—sometimes openly, sometimes hidden—
that we are called upon to refine and incorporate into the realm of
holiness. Moreover, there is an essential connection between the
discoveries of the natural sciences and the revelation of the esoteric
wisdom of the Torah. As explained in the Zohar and in Hassidut, the
outpouring of water from above and below that occurred during Noah’s
flood—“all the fountains of the great deep split open and the windows of
heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11)—alludes to the simultaneous and
complementary revelation of Divine and worldly wisdom. The natural
sciences are revealed to us from below, while the heavens open up to
reveal the hidden wisdom of the Torah.
The Rectification of the Arts and Sciences
What applies to the nations’ wisdom applies as well to their arts. It
is written, “G-d will beautify Japheth, and he will dwell in the tents of
Shem” (Genesis 9:27, Megilah 9b). Shem, Japheth, and Ham were the
sons of Noah. Shem is the progenitor of the Jewish people and Japheth is
the progenitor of Yavan (Greece), the cradle of secular civilization.
The true Jewish leader is open-minded enough to recognize the
beauty that exists in non-Jewish culture and is not threatened by it. He
does not try to accommodate (“bend”) his Jewishness to secular culture,
but rather robustly refines it with the strength of the Torah’s wisdom. (As
we explained above, Israel is li rosh—the Jew is the head, the seat of
wisdom.) He applies the Torah’s wisdom to both music and the visual
arts (including architecture). He takes his cue from King Solomon, who
built the most magnificent structure on earth, the Holy Temple, collected
treasures of art and had a company of singers (Ecclesiastes 2:8).
Presently, the true Jewish expressions of beauty and art are in exile.
By virtue of his immersion in the wisdom of the Torah, the Jewish leader
knows how to refine the beauty and art that is dispersed throughout the
world and to redeem it. This process, like the refinement of secular
wisdom, is a process of elevating the sparks of holiness that are scattered
In order to rectify all aspects of secular art and science, it is
necessary to harness the power of all aspects of the Torah, the Torah as it
is pure and complete. This means that the Jewish leader must be
conversant in and imbued with all four facets of the Torah: its literal
meaning, its allusive meaning, its homiletic meaning, and its esoteric
meaning. Through the rectification of the arts and the sciences, new facets
of the Torah are revealed. (Indeed, the numerical value of the Hebrew
words for “art” [omanut, 497] and “science” [mada, 114] is equal to that
of the word Torah .) The Torah inspires the unification of the two
primary domains of human endeavor, art and science, and is thereby
blessed in return with the revelation of deeper and deeper dimensions of
its own Divine wisdom.
In further depth: yet unrevealed dimensions of wisdom, whether
secular or Divine, are referred to in Kabbalah and Hassidut as
“darkness.” The Torah inspires the revelation of hitherto unrevealed
dimensions of the lower darkness of art and science, which in turn
arouses the higher darkness of hitherto unrevealed dimensions of Torah to
As noted above, secular knowledge, the wisdom of the nations, is
relatively “body”-oriented, while the Divine knowledge of the Torah, the
wisdom of Israel, is “head”-oriented. The higher waters of Torah wisdom
are relatively “theoretical,” while the lower waters of secular wisdom are
relatively “practical.” The sages teach that it is our task in this world to
apply the relatively theoretical knowledge of the Torah to our day-to-day
lives in the performance of the Torah’s commandments in action. In the
future, however, action itself will arouse knowledge. In extension of this
teaching: Now, the higher waters of the Torah inspire the lower waters of
secular knowledge to rise from the abyss (the lower darkness); in the
future, the lower waters will arouse the higher darkness of the hidden
secrets of the Torah to reveal itself. In the idiom of Hassidut, then the
body will impregnate the soul (the head) and the Divine Essence itself
(the higher darkness) will become Light.
King Solomon and the Messiah.
The involvement with the nations of the world, their wisdom and
their art, requires extreme caution. King Solomon’s desire or “passion” (1
Kings 9:1) to rectify worldly art and science—his attraction to the culture
and aesthetic of the nations—so overtook that it adversely affected his
devoted obedience to the law of the Torah. The Torah permits a king to
marry eighteen wives; in attempt to elevate all of the beauty and wisdom
unrectifiedof the nations (embodied in the princess of each nation) King Solomon
married a thousand wives: “King Solomon loved many foreign women,
and he had many wives, that numbered seven hundred, and three hundred
concubines (ibid. 11:1-3).
In descending to clarify the arts and wisdom of the nations, one
must be careful to assume the role of the influencer and not that of the
influenced, for otherwise he may well be drawn down into the
yet- clutches of foreign culture. Until malhut is rectified, the
yesod (male sexual power) must take the lead and not be led. Only the
rectified malhut, the rectified feminine consciousness associated with
nature, its beauty and wisdom, is able to channel yesod at its desire. Until
then, yesod must know how to control and limit himself, to fine-tune its
relation to malhut.
The Messiah, a direct descendant of King David and King
Solomon, will rectify in full King Solomon’s passion to elevate the
beauty and wisdom inherent in nature and manifest in the nations of the
earth. The Messiah will be even wiser than King Solomon, and he will
know how to uplift the nations and redeem their sparks of wisdom.
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