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    Solomon’s Simchat Torah

    A well-known Simchat Torah piyyut (“Avraham samach b’Simchat Torah”) asserts that our Biblical ancestors rejoiced on Simchat Torah.

    Depiction of King Solomon

    Depiction of King Solomon

    This present article looks only at the involvement of Solomon.

    The commentators quote I Kings 3, in which Solomon is asked in a dream what he most wants. His answer is “an understanding heart” (verse 9).

    God is pleased that Solomon has not asked for long life or anything material and promises him “a wise and understanding heart so that there has been no-one before you like you, nor after you shall anyone arise like you” (verses 11-12).

    Solomon wakes up, goes to the Temple, offers sacrifices and makes a feast for his servants (verse 15).

    Following this precedent, the sages see the Jewish people as asking God for the wisdom that derives from the Torah and celebrating God’s blessings by means of a feast.

    The implication is that the day of Solomon’s dream was Simchat Torah, possibly a personal Simchat Torah and not necessarily on the present date.

    The idea is valuable to every generation.

    If we ask God only for physical, material benefits, we have not asked for the things that really make a difference to history.

    Our prayer should not be for prosperity, except insofar as this gives us the means to bring blessing to those who need it, but for wisdom and understanding.

    With wisdom and understanding, you have everything, and you deserve to celebrate.

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