Shalom and welcome to this edition of Through the Lens. I’m Rabbi Eric Walker.
Why are we here? What are we after? Is it fame or glory? Is it to leave something for our families or is there much more to life than this? As a society we have glorified the gifts and forgotten the giver. We have put more focus on appearance and wealth than on G-D. We are so concerned about what people think that we make decisions based on how it would look.
If I told you I was leaving a 12 year old in charge of my household, my business and my kingdom you would think I was crazy.
Before David dies, he appoints as king his son Solomon, who is 12 years old at the time, with these words: 1 King 2:2-3″I go the way of all the earth. You shall be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes and His commandments and His testimonies. As it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”
This classic blessing is often quoted by fathers to their sons on the day of their Bar Mitzvah. It restates the cardinal rule that has guided the Jewish people from the time of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai: in order to prosper keep the Torah.
Shortly after Solomon is anointed king, God appears to him in a dream in which He invites Solomon to make a request for himself. Solomon answers: “I am but a small child … Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people…” His request pleases God who tells him: 1 Kings 3:7-13 “Because you have not requested riches and honor but only that which would benefit all the people, I will give you not only an understanding heart like none other before or after you … but also riches and honor like no other king in your days.”
Solomon died at age 52 in 796 BCE, ruling as king for 40 years — the best years in all of Israel’s history — 40 years of peace and prosperity. He is known as chacham mi’kol ha’adam, “wisest of all the men.”
The Bible relates that kings from all over the world came to hear his wisdom, which included not only Torah wisdom, but also wisdom in secular knowledge and science. His fame spread through all the surrounding nations. He composed 3,000 parables, and 1,005 poems. He discoursed about trees, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows from the wall. He also discoursed about animals, birds, creeping things and fish. Men of all nations came to hear Solomon’s wisdom, as did all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Eccl 1:1 “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 “Meaningless! Meaningless! “says the Teacher, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.”
Eccl 9:11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Eccl 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him — before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. Everything is meaningless!”
Eccl 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
YES MEANINGLESS – the plans of Man, the chasing after the Wind – meaningless – the worry, the fear – the uncertainty – YES MEANINGLESS. Solomon tries diligently to find something that is meaningful. Through scripture we see that he tries the following things to see if he can find true meaning in them: Wisdom, Knowledge, Laughter, Pleasure, Wine, Folly (Foolish Behavior), Great Projects (Career), Slaves, Flocks, Silver and Gold (Wealth), Harem (Sexual Pleasure), and various Personal Achievements.
Solomon acknowledges that life goes through various phases. There will be a time in our life for everything. He seems to be saying that we should not be surprised when we encounter different “times” in our lives. It is to be expected that our lives will have different “seasons”.
– What season is it in your life? You can be sure that whatever the season is, good or bad, that another season is coming.
– Sometimes we get consumed with emotion when going through difficulty, we should take comfort in knowing that change is constant in our lives and that things won’t stay difficult forever.
Solomon is telling us to enjoy life. We should realize that though the things of this life are meaningless, that the best that we can do while we are here is to enjoy the life we have.– Many of us spend too much time worrying. Life is temporary. Why worry about something that isn’t going to last? Many of us will look back and regret that we spent so much of our time in despair instead of enjoying what we can of our experience on Earth. Why worry about things that in the end really won’t matter Why focus so much energy and time on that which is meaningless? Why chase things that you can have only temporarily? Enjoy your life experience here on Earth. Be sure to focus on the most important thing– Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the WHOLE DUTY of man.
Matt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God only gives us one day at a time and Lord willing we will have a tomorrow, but God has already planned your tomorrows and wants us to focus on Today.
With so much anxiety, worry and fear swirling around our lives we cannot forget why we are here and what we are called to do Today.
If your to do list does not have God as Number 1, your list is out of order.
You will be amazed at what will change in your life when you put God first.
And that my friends is this edition of Through the Lens.
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