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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5778

Ein Ayah: Complete Heart, Complete Head

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:71)

Gemara: Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: Whoever says that Shlomo sinned is mistaken, as it says: “His heart was not complete with Hashem, his God, like the heart of his father, David” (Melachim I, 11:4) – his heart was not like his father David’s, but he did not sin either.   


Ein Ayah: When the kingdom was first established, it had to spiritually contain everything that would have to grow out of it for the complete leadership of the future generations of the nation. 

For an individual person, the main part of the heart is the emotion or the understanding of what he needs to do. It is not possible for it to be totally complete to the extent that he will not be missing any inclination or feeling of any level of significance in both the good and bad feelings. Actually, it is not good for the heart for negative feelings to find expression in his consciousness. These bad feelings should only exist in the potential recesses of the personality so that he can use them as necessary for good actions. Another point for latent negative emotions is so that he can have the moral accomplishment of using his intellect to choose a path of good instead of bad.

A complete intellect of a thinking mind is different. The mind has to be all inclusive. When it comes to the elevated mind of the king, it has to encompass all paths of thought in breadth and depth. Only in this way can the practical wisdom that can lead all be complete in all ways. It is not enough for the element of wisdom for negative ideas to exist only in the subconscious realm of potential. That is because if they were so distant, one would not be able to negate the bad ideas before they are acted upon. That is the reason that all-inclusive wisdom deals openly with all different types of approaches to life. This includes the light of Israel and the wisdom of Hashem along with the wisdom of ancient nations and of Egypt. Only when they are dealt with openly can one remove their impurities and have the bad surrender to the light and truth of Torah. With this in tow, leadership can be based on truth and can persevere forever.

David and Shlomo, the foundations of the Davidic dynasty, each built the base of an element of the kingdom. David, the pleasant poet, established the element of the heart and the lofty emotion and spirit of sanctity that dwelled over Israel and its kingdom. Shlomo followed and built the foundation of all-inclusive wisdom – the wisdom of the Jewish kingdom, the wisdom of Shlomo. David’s great activities were built on a complete heart, whose completeness included no need for anything negative or lacking sanctity. That which was not good could remain deep in the recesses and be totally subjugated to the good. Wisdom, in contrast, has to openly deal with improper ideas. Therefore, Shlomo had to develop the special existence of incompleteness and of that which contradicts light and goodness. Under those circumstances, light and goodness show their greatness by removing that which is false.

In this context, we must understand the gemara’s statement that Shlomo’s heart was not as complete as David’s. That is because the heart was not his main field of endeavor; the intellect of the mind was his main field. If his heart had been complete, he would not have been able to shine light on all the dark places and banish darkness by means of divinely produced light, which is brought to the world by the divinely ordained kingdom. That’s what the gemara means by saying that Shlomo was lacking David’s heart but did not sin.    

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