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‘The Feast of Wisdom’

At Gibeon the Eternal appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and the Divine said, “Ask, what shall I grant you?” – 1 Kings 3:5[:10-13??]

One midrash teaches that the holiday of Simchat Torah derives from the celebration of Solomon. In a dream, the Holy One asks Solomon his dearest wish. Solomon prays for wisdom, not wealth, knowing that wisdom will bring him all good things. His prayer is granted, so he makes a feast. So too, each year as we reread the Torah, we ask for new wisdom to come to us, and we celebrate it when it comes.

This legend hints that wisdom derives not only from the Torah but also from the earth. Solomon’s gift is not that he is a scholar, but that he can understand the language of birds and animals. As we celebrate the completion of the circle of Torah, we ask to be part of the greater circle of wisdom: the wisdom of life. In this way, we draw closer to all our fellow creatures. As the holiday season ends, we re-enter the world to learn what it can teach us.

This year, Simchat Torah is observed October 14. The above excerpt is drawn from Jill Hammer’s book “The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons,” which offers reflections, meditations and readings for each day of the year.

Reprinted from “The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all Seasons” (© 2006, by Jill Hammer, published by The Jewish Publication Society) with permission of the publisher.

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