Split the Baby? King Solomon's Test of Wisdom | Aleph Beta

Episode I

Split the Baby? King Solomon's Test of Wisdom


Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

This is the first in an ongoing lecture series by Rabbi Fohrman on King Solomon's Test of Wisdom.


Rabbi Fohrman:  Okay folks, welcome. It's nice to see you all. I see some new folks here as well as some folks that I recognize. Over time we'll get a chance to maybe introduce folks. Since we're getting a little bit of a late start, I wanted to just jump in a little bit to what we're doing. 

This is a new time slot for Shiny New Things, as well as a new topic. It has a little bit to do with what we talked about before, but it's a shiny new topic, as it were. What we're talking about tonight is an exciting piece that adds a whole bunch of interesting permeations. The famous story of King Solomon and the two mothers and the two babies.

I'm coming to you here, actually, when I originally set this up. I thought I was going to be on the West Coast, for this and possible on the East Coast, but I’m in Israel actually. Yes, believe it or not, but Caryn you're here in Israel too, so -- are you in Israel?  No, you're not, so you're back in the States or at least in the East Coast. Anyway, in Israel it's the middle of the night so I'm going to make this not quite as long or extended as Shiny New things, as some of these are. I'll be teasing some things for the weeks ahead. 

So, let me tell you where I'm coming from in picking this story. This story of King Solomon and the two babies, it is quite famous. It has given rise to the modern notion, or the modern quip to split the baby as a way of understanding.  Kind of splitting the difference in business settings and it all comes from this story, this famous fable-like story demonstrating King Solomon's wisdom. 

I first began to work in this story maybe six, seven years ago or so, when I came across something very striking which I hope to share with you in three weeks from now. But tonight I want to share with you -- or today, wherever you are -- I want to share with you something else about this story that is quite uncanny. It's something which I came up with not too long ago and frankly am still in the middle of parsing what I think it means. That's one of the nice things about Shiny New Thing Time, that we can parse that together and try to figure it out together because it's really a work in progress. 

I will say that one of the tantalizing things for me about what I want to talk to you about tonight and the next two weeks before we get to what I found out six years ago, is that although what I think I discovered in this story, that I'll show you over the next two weeks, is quite different than what I found six or seven years ago. It's complimentary in a number of very remarkable and tantalizing ways. Very mysterious ways.

In some ways, you know if I can sort of devolve into a little bit of jargon at the deep end of the Aleph Beta pool for a minute. Those of you who have been around the block with me for a while, you know that one of the school's that I use in trying to undertake a closer reading of Tanach is intertextual readings of text. Ways in which one text seems to correspond, link out, highlight and shed light on another text. We've done that countless times at Aleph Beta. It never fails to me to be surprised by the astonishing ways that the Torah seems to use that technique and to refresh that technique. To just find marvelous things.

There's a particular thing that the Torah seems to be doing using intertextuality with these stories that is remarkably subtle. Although what I found six years ago is very different from what I found recently, what is similar about it in terms of two texts that seem to be intertextually connected to the King Solomon narrative, is that they're both doing something that's almost exactly the same comparing the text of King Solomon to another text. Yet, it's almost unique in my understanding of intertextual connections, these two things. It's a remarkably subtle thing. I'm almost at a loss of words to describe it to you without showing it to you. So I kind of have to show it you rather than sit here trying to describe it. It's just going to sound like gobbildy gook to you until you actually see it. 

So let me stop talking about all of this and actually show you what it is that I'm talking about. We can come back in a few weeks from now and kind of marvel at it, I think, and try to explore some of the mystery in its meaning. Let me begin with a little bit of an introduction to this story of King Solomon and the two babies. We're going to read the text in the Book of Kings, it's just a few verses, we're going to read it together in a moment. I invite you in the week ahead to reread it at home a few times, over and over again, in preparation for the next week.

The text is kind of remarkable in a few basic ways. It's kind of strange and difficult to understand in a few basic ways. Basically, what happens is King Solomon comes to the throne and he is a young king and something strange happens, which is that he has a dream. God comes to him in the dream. God basically says, look, I love you, I want you to ask of Me anything that you'd like. King Solomon chooses wisdom of all things.  He says, I'd love wisdom and he describes why he wants to have wisdom. God look favorably upon this and says He's going to grant him this wisdom. Then King Solomon wakes up from the dream. 

The next thing that happens is the story of King Solomon and the two babies. There's this dispute between two women who have two babies, one of whom is dead and one of whom is alive, as to who the true mother of the living baby is. King Solomon figures out a clever way of discerning who the true mother is. He says, bring me the sword and he's going to kill the live baby and split it between the mothers. Only to have the mother of the true child say no, no, don't do that, please don't do that, just give it to the other woman. King Solomon says, aha, that's the real mother. The other mother said, sure, split the baby and the real mother is like, no, I don't need the baby, just whatever you do don't touch the baby. 

So King Solomon says that's the true mother and they award that mother the baby. At that point all of Israel sees King Solomon's wisdom and realizes that he's the wisest of all men and they hail him as the greatest. That's basically the way the story ends. 

Now, not to be too much of a cynic, but you know, let's just pretend this didn't happen in Biblical times. Let's just imagine this was the Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Senate. Where somebody is presenting their credentials as to why they should be the next Justice of the Supreme Court. Back in the day when Supreme Court confirmations where like a thing and not just a partisan slugfest. So imagine it was back in the days in the Marshal Court, or something like that, and the Senate was really taking this seriously in a bipartisan kind of way. 

Somebody, a young king, or a young justice, really didn't have that much experience, came and they said, what are your qualifications? He said, well, the truth is I can't say that I aced my law school exams or was the editor of Law Review, or anything like that, but I do have one story I want to tell you that I think qualifies me as the smartest guy who ever lives. So that gets -- the Senator raises an eyebrow and says, please continue sir, we would really like to hear what qualifies you as the smartest guy who ever lived.

He says, well, once upon a time in my courtroom there were these two women who came to me with this baby and didn't know who the baby belonged to. So I have this great idea. I took out my 35-caliber shot gun, which I always keep in my car, and I said, let's just blast the baby in two and we'll give half to you and half to you. One of these women said, please don't do that and the other was like sure. I realized who the real mother was and that's when I awarded here the baby. You could just imagine the awkward silence in the Senate chambers. Uh huh, so that qualifies you as the smartest guy that ever lived? Yup, that certainly does. Don't you think that was clever? 

You could imagine that he probably wouldn't have been confirmed if that made him the smartest guy who ever lived. So what in the world is going on here? Why does this dramatic demonstration of Solomon's wisdom serve to convince all of Israel? It sounds like it really worked. Like, this is just amazing. This is just amazing, amazing wisdom. To give another example, imagine you were scrolling through your Facebook feed at 2:00 in the morning, you're an insomniac. You're in Israel with jetlag and here you are going through your Facebook feed and somebody shares this story. Some judge in his chambers in Alabama or something, or California, a little town near Sacramento. Two women came in and he had this idea. Let's split the baby and he figured out who the mother way. 

What would you do? Would you stop right there and say, holy cow, that is the smartest person who has just ever lived? That is the wisest thing that I have ever seen. Or, would you smile and say, well, that was kind of clever, that really is clever and you'd keep on scrolling to see what the next interesting thing on Facebook is? Probably the latter. So why is it that Solomon's encounter with these two women and his undoubtedly clever way of figuring out who the true mother is, is so dramatic that it ratifies this dream by God. 

So that is one of the basic questions that I would put to you in reading this story. What I want to suggest by way of resolution to that question, it goes with one other observation. I mentioned to you that the two stories that go back-to-back, which we're about to read together, are Solomon's dream, where in his dream he asked God for wisdom. Then the very next story, which is a story of these two women who come to him with their baby and King Solomon says to split the baby. So I want to ponder the connection between those two stories with you. Maybe this is a good time to go into the text and at least read through the first of those stories on our way to the second. Let's read the story of the dream on our way to the story of the two babies. 

I want you to pay attention to this story of the dream for a moment and let's just read it closely and see what emerges here. So let's go into that. I have Al Hatorah up here in the screen. This is going to be -- get a Tanach in front of you if you want to follow in your own Tanach -- this is going to be the Book of Kings 1, Chapter 3. I'll share the screen for those of you who don't have that. So we'll read some of the background. 

"Vayitchatein Shlomo et Paraoh melech Mitzrayim," so Solomon married into the House of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, taking the daughter of Pharaoh, "vayevi'ehah el ir David," and he brings her into the City of David, "ad koloto livnot et beito v'et beit Hashem v'et chomat Yerushalayim saviv," before he actually built the Temple. "Rak ha'am m'zivchim babamot ki lo nivnah bayit l'Shem Hashem at hayamim haheim," people were still sacrificing on other alters and Solomon loves God. "Vayehav Shlomo et Hashem lalechet b'chukot David aviv rak bibamot hu mizbei'ach u'maktir." He loves God, he walked in the ways of David, his father, the only thing he didn't do is he didn't get rid of the other alters which the people weren't supposed to sacrifice at before he built the Temple. 

"Vayalech hamelech giv'onah," the king goes to Gibeon, "lizbo'ach sham," to offer offerings to God, that was the largest place that you could offer offerings before the Temple, "elef olot ya'aleh Shlomo al hamizbe'ach hahih," he would offer a thousand offerings on the mizbe'ach, that's what he would do. "B'Giv'on nir'eh Hashem el Shlomo bachalom halailah," in Giv'on God came to Solomon in a dream in the middle of the night. "Vayomer Elohim," and God said, "she'al mah eten lach," ask what you will, tell Me what I can give to you. "Vayomer Shlomo," and Solomon says, "atah asita im avdecha David avi chessed gadol," well, God, You were very kind to my father David, You did a great kindness to him, "ka'asher halach lefanecha ba'emet u'bitzedakah u'beyishrat levav imach," You did a great kindness for him in as much as he was a good king, he walked before You in truth, he walked before You in righteousness, he walked before You in integrity. "Vatishmar lo et hachessed hagadol hazeh," You, for Your part, you did this great kindness for him and that kindness was giving him me, "vatitein lo bein yosheiv al kiso kayom hazeh," You gave him a child who inherits his throne and sits on his throne to this day, me. 

Just so you understand why that's such a big deal. If you think about this historically, Solomon is referencing what until now was a unique moment in Jewish history. This has never happened before. If you thing about the early prophets, the Book of Joshua, the Book of Judges, the Book of Samuel, the Book of Kings, to some extent what these books are about, especially the Book of Judges and the Book of Samuel, is the quest of Israel for a stable political paradigm.  Some sort of stable mode of government that's actually going to work.

Now various different possibilities for that government had been suggested in the Five Books of Moses itself, specifically in Deuteronomy, Sefer Devarim in Parashat Shoftim. About halfway through Devarim the Torah offers a list of possible leaders that could lead people. It's almost as if there's a constitution of sorts being put forward in the middle of Deuteronomy as we talk about these leaders. It's a constitution in the sense that various different leaders are described; a king, a prophet, a kohen, a priest and then a sort of anti-leader, the soothsayer or the witch. The powers of these various leaders are delineated. We hear about the rights of the kohen, the rights and responsibilities of the king. The checks and balances, to some extent, of the king. We hear about a prophet. What makes somebody a true prophet? What makes somebody not a true prophet? We're given to understand that each of these leaders have their sort of reign and things that they can do. 

What makes Deuteronomy not a constitution, a political constitution, at least not in the modern sense of the word, is that the relationship between these leaders is not delineated. You hear about the king, you hear about the prophet, you hear about the priest and you hear about the shofet, you hear about the judge as well. You hear about these four kinds of leaders and you hear some laws about those four kinds of leaders but you don’t actually hear about what the relationship between those branches of government actually are.

So in the American Constitution, famously, sets up a situation of checks and balances whereby I hear in the same document about Congress, about the President, about the Judiciary Branch and I understand something about how those branches interrelate with each other. That's not the case when it comes to reading the Book of Deuteronomy about these leaders. I hear about these leaders almost in a vacuum, and that's my understanding of how it is they relate to the other institution. 

So in other words, you don't really know which is the dominant leader. Is the judge going to be dominant? Is the kohen going to be dominant? Is the priest going to be dominant? Is the navi, the prophet, going to be dominant? Or is there going to be a king and the king is going to be dominant?

Why is that the Torah leaves this ambiguous? I can't tell you but what I can tell you is that it's almost as if by leaving this ambiguous what the Torah is doing is creating the possibility that history is going to sort it out. That things could go different ways here. Indeed, Israel tries out different paradigms of government. It's almost very modern in a certain way in the sense that much of the modern struggle over the last 300-400 years has been how do nations figure out how to govern themselves? It's not a problem that anyone has ever figured out. 

For a while there were kings, there was the divine right of kings and then that gave way to constitutional monarchy's and that gave way to democracy. But democracies are not perfect, and they can fail. Athens didn't last for that long. It's an open question how long America's going to last. It's not so clear what the best way, or what the most durable way to govern people really are. As much as we take pride in the notion of democracy nowadays, it happens to be the thing that people are into now. 

So the Torah allows for different paradigms to emerge. So if you look at the Book of Judges, where there are these provisional judges, and that's the dominant paradigm. But it doesn't seem to be working out very well. So as the Book of Samuel opens you've got another dominant paradigm The dominant paradigm seems to be the kohen, the kohen's in charge. Eli, the kohen, is in charge. All power seems to be centralized in his hands. War and all of that seems to go through Eli's decision. He basically fights this war against the Philistines, and he's actually killed and his children are killed in the battle. That's the downfall of the House of Eli and with you don't just get the loss of him as a leader, you get the loss of that paradigm as a leader. So the kohen gets his chance to try his hand at political leadership.

Followed by a new kind of leader, which is the navi, who grows up in the house of the kohen. The prophet, that's Samuel. Samuel becomes the new child leader, almost, of Israel having grown up in the house of Eli. 

What's significant about these transitions as you'll see is that the new leader tends to emerge from the shadow of the old leader, often as his son. Samuel is kind of an adopted son of Eli in the beginning of the Book of Samuel. Yet Eli would have loved nothing more than for his biological children to have taken over for him. He really wanted Chafni and Pinchas, his biological children, to take over for him but it wasn't to be. They were corrupt and they couldn't keep it going. So his adopted child, Samuel, becomes more of a child to him than he ever could have imagined. Samuel takes over but not in the same paradigm as Eli. He takes over as a new kind of leader, as a prophet. 

Then as you're reading the Book of Samuel and you're reading about the reign of Samuel, you think Samuel is a pretty good guy. If you stop reading right there, at the beginning of the Book of Samuel, you kind of get a sense that maybe we've arrived at a new dominant paradigm. Maybe the prophet is going to be able to carry the leadership forward and that's going to work out. But what happens is with Samuel, the same thing happens to him as happened to Eli, which is he really wanted his children to take over. But it doesn't really work out. His children are not really him and they don't command the same respect that he does, and they seem like they're a little bit corrupt. People don't go for his children. 

So it falls to Samuel to bring in a new leader. That new leader is King Saul, a king. Saul, interestingly enough, grows up in the house of Samuel. He too is kind of an adopted son of Samuel. Samuel takes care of him and all of that and yet Saul becomes the new leader in a different kind of paradigm, not a prophet but a king. There are vestiges, interestingly, of the old leader and each of the new leaders. As Samuel takes over, Samuel acts like a priest, acts like the kohen in certain ways. He offers offerings the same way that a kohen would. So even though he's not a kohen he kind of has that quality that he takes with him in a new kind of leadership. 

Similarly, Saul, even though he's a king and not a prophet, interestingly, on his way to becoming a king he prophesizes. He has elements of prophecy. Elements of this old paradigm accompany him as he sets up a new paradigm. By the way, that's kind of interesting, isn't it? That's sort of the way transitions in leadership go. Transitions in leadership usually aren't these dramatic breaks where you go from something to something entirely else. You have to have this bridge between them where you pay homage to the old even as you are developing something new. And that happens in these transitions. 

So there's Saul and Saul is the new leader. You look at Saul and you think, ah, I guess we've arrived at kings. It's going to be kings. Except that Saul, just like Samuel before him, and just like Eli before him, also has designs on his children taking over for him. But it doesn’t quite work out the way Saul wants. He and his child, who he thinks is going to take over, Yonatan, end up dying in battle against the Philistines. That's the end of the Kingdom of Saul, a kingdom that comes from Benjamin. Had Saul been able to establish a dynasty it would have been a dynasty of the smallest of the tribes, Benjamin, and it would have had that particular quality. But that was not to be. Instead, David takes over for him. 

Where does David grow up? Interestingly enough, just as Samuel grew up in the house of Eli, just as King Saul grew up in the house of his adopted father, Samuel. So too where does David grow up? But in the house of his adopted father, Saul. He literally marries into the family, he marries the daughters of Saul and Saul even addresses him as, my son, David, a number of times. Even though he tragically gets into this battle with David. In the end, as it is in every transition of leadership, there is this -- you almost think to yourself, boy, if only Saul knew how much David would really be like a son to him because David becomes the one to take over and to develop a new paradigm of leadership in the shadow of his adopted father.

So if you think about the integrity of the Book of Samuel, in a way, what makes the Book of Samuel the Book of Samuel? It's a strange book, the Book of Samuel, it doesn't really deal with Samuel all the way through. The sort of territorial integrity of the Book of Samuel, I think, can be seen as a sort of working out of the constitution in the Five Books of Moses back in Shoftim, which is like, what's it going to be? When are you ever going to have a stable paradigm?

Now when would you know you arrived at a stable paradigm? Well in all of these unstable shifts between one leader and another, one of the dominant themes is that the leader always hopes that his children take over for him, but it never really happens. There was always an adoptive child who takes over instead. So the question is when's the first moment that that changes? That brings us to King Solomon. 

King Solomon is the first moment when that paradigm really shifts and that's what Solomon is talking about in his speech to God. When he says that You've done this great kindness for my father, David. You've done this amazing thing. You've given him a child that sits upon your throne. Solomon is saying this with some understanding of Jewish history until now. He understands why that's such a big deal. Him sitting on the throne is the first time that the designated leader that a father would have chosen, his own child, in fact takes over for him in the same kind of leadership as happened before. Solomon is the second in a line of Davidic kings, that has never happened before. There's never been a second in a line of leaders before. 

That remarks a huge shift. It's the first time since Israel has come into the land in the Book of Joshua that this has ever happened. It's the beginning of a dynasty, it's just never happened before. That seems to be what Solomon is referencing here and why his accession to the throne is such a big deal. 

So with that background let's go back into the dream. So he says, look God, You've done this great thing, You've given a child to my father who sits upon his throne to this very day, and now Verse 7. "V'atah Hashem Elokai," and now God, "atah himlachta et avdecha tachat David avi," here I am, I’m the new king underneath my father, David, "v'anochi na'ar katan," I'm just a little guy, I’m nothing fancy, "lo eida tzeit u'vo," I don't even know my comings and my goings. "V'avdecha b'toch amcha asher bacharta im rav asher lo yimaneh v'lo yisafeir meirov," I've got this huge populace that I have got to serve. "V'natata l'avdecha leiv shome'a," and I'm asking You to give to me a listening heart, "lishpot et amcha," to judge Your people, "lehavin being tov l'ra," to understand the distinction between good and evil. That's what I want from you, "ki mi yuchal lishpot et amcha kaveid hazeh," because who could rightfully be expected to judge this people, that is really such a difficult burden. 

Here you hear overtones of Moses talking about how difficult it is to judge the people. Solomon picks up on that language. So that's the request that King Solomon makes in the dream after God had said, ask for whatever you want.  

So, "vayitav hadavar b'einei Hashem," it was a good thing in the eyes of God, "ki sha'al Shlomo et hadavar hazeh," that Solomon had asked this thing.  

"Vayomer Elokim eilav," so God said to him, "ya'an asher sha'alta," because you asked this thing, "et hadavar hazeh v'lo sha'alta lecha," and you didn't ask for other things, you didn't, for example, ask for, "yamim rabim," a long life, "v'lo sha'alta lecha osher," and you didn't ask for riches, "v'lo sha'alta nefesh oyvecha," and you didn't ask for success in war, "v'sha'alta lecha havin lishmo'a mishpat," you asked for wisdom to be able to pursue justice. 

So, "hinei asiti kidvarecha," behold I have done as you asked, "hinei natati lecha leiv chacham v'navon," I have given you a heart that is wise and open to wisdom, "asher kamocha lo haya lefanecha," that before you there was none like you, "v'acharecha lo yakum kamocha," and after you there will be none like you. I've given you wisdom that is unimaginable.

"V'gam asher lo sha'alta," so I've give you what you asked for, wisdom, but will also give you what you didn't ask for, "gam asher lo sha'alta nasati lecha," I shall give you, "gam osher," I will give you riches, "gam kavod," also honor, "asher lo yaha kamocha," that no one has ever received that kind of honor before, "ish bamelachim kol yamecha," nobody has ever had that. No king will ever have to glory that I’m going to give you. 

"V'im teileich bidrachai lishlmor chukai u'mitzvotai ka'asher halach David avicha v'ha'arachti et yamecha." As for length of days, if you follow in the commandments of God, "ka'asher halach David avicha v'ha'arachti et yamecha," I will give you long life. That's the dream. "Vayikatz Shlomo v'hinei chalom," Solomon wakes up and behold it was a dream, "v'hinei chalom," and behold it was a dream, "vayavo Yerushalayim vaya'amod lifnei Aron brit Hashem va'yal olot va'yei'as shelamim," and then he went to Jerusalem and he offered all these offering. Then, wouldn't you know it, "az tavonah sh'tayim nashim zonot el hamelech." That's when two women harlots came before the king and stood before him. This is the story of King Solomon and the two babies. It immediately comes after this dream. 

Okay. So let's just think about that dream for a moment. Let me just ask you, as you listen to that story does anything strike as interesting about that story? Was it particularly intriguing about that story as you listen to that discussion between God and Solomon about wisdom? Does anything strike you, as you listen to it, that feels of note to you? That is Jeanette, go ahead. 

Jeanette:  Hi, Rabbi Fohrman. My first reaction was God is granting him things that he never asked for. Maybe he didn't ask for them for a reason.

Rabbi Fohrman:  So, Jeanette, you're wondering maybe he shouldn't be having them?

Jeanette:  Yeah, maybe he didn't ask for them for a reason. I don't want to be very rich because it'll be a distraction to me, I'd rather -- it'll be a detriment. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  That's funny. I never thought about that before but strangely, as I was reading it, I have the same reaction, Jeanette, that you are just now. It kind of struck me that that's true. In other words, if you think about it, maybe he didn't ask for riches for a reason. Maybe he didn't ask for great wealth and honor for a reason. Especially great wealth and riches that no one before him had attained. 

If you just think Lord of the Rings for a minute. It's not necessarily a good thing to have all that power, to have dizzying wealth, to have dizzying honor. In a certain way what great distraction -- not even distraction -- what greater temptation could you possibly imagine than to have obtained power at that level? So another way to read the dream is almost like, okay, I'll give you wisdom but that wisdom almost comes at a price. The price, ironically, is that you're going to have to balance that wisdom with some of the greatest distractions, or temptations, to misuse power than anyone else. That anyone has ever had in their entire lives.

What if I gave you incredible wealth? What if I gave you dizzying power that no one had ever had? What would you do then with this wisdom? So you can have wisdom but with wisdom comes great temptation. How is it that that plays out? I'll have a little bit more to say about that in a second. I see a bunch of you have your hands up. Vadim (ph) and Isaac and some of you said something in the chat, so I'll get to that in a moment. 

I'll just throw out one other thing that I happen to notice as I’m reading this. Really for the first time, I hadn't prepared to talk about this, but it just struck me. Did you guys notice that one of the things that Solomon asks for is --and I don't even know how to tell the difference between good and evil. I don't know what good is and what evil is. As you're reading this, of course, what are you thinking? When is the last time you heard about knowledge of good and evil, boys and girls?

Isaac:  Adam and Chava. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  That sounds like Adam and Eve, right? It really sounds like that tree. I noticed that a while before but what I hadn't noticed is that we've talked in Shiny New Thing Times before, recently, about the story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We know that there were two trees. Not just a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, there was also a Tree of Life. So there's this sly reference to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in that dream. Was there also a reference to the Tree of Life? 

Isaac:  Yes. Long life.

Rabbi Fohrman:  There is, right? The other possibility of what he could have asked for, interestingly, is long life. God says, I'm really impressed that you asked for knowledge of good and evil and you didn't ask for long life. Then God says, you know what? I'm going to give you long life too. Interestingly, God's gift of long life is not quite the same as all the other gifts he gives. What does God do? He sort of generously offers a bunch of unconditional gifts --

Isaac:  Exceptional, maybe. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  -- He says, you can have great honor, you can have dizzying wealth, unconditionally, along with your wisdom. But there's one gift that I’m giving you conditionally, it's the gift of long life. What is that conditional on?

Mx:  Following -- keeping the mitzvot.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Keeping the mitzvot. Not actually the word for keeping the mitzvot was quite interesting. Did anyone note the verb for keeping the mitzvot? What is it? 

Debby:  "V'halachat bidrachecha." 

Rabbi Fohrman:  It was, "lishmor mitzvotav," to watch over the mitzvot. Whatever exactly that means. Now that's kind of interesting because -- 

Jeanette:  Could that mean like watching over that the people follow the mitzvot? That the whole country follows it? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Possible. I’m not sure of what it means. It could have a lot of different meanings. To preserve and protect on some level. Whatever to preserve and protect the mitzvot means. 

Just in terms of Eden, what does that remind you of with the Tree of Life? 

Debby:  "L'avdo u'leshamrah." 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yes. In other words, man had two things in the garden. He was an oved and he was a shomer. He was somebody who served and somebody who protected. Indeed the New York police motto of to serve and to protect, comes from the Garden of Eden and what man was supposed to do back in the garden. To serve and to protect. 

Notice that Solomon references one of those two things and God references another. Solomon keeps on calling himself, Your servant, Your servant, Your servant and doesn't say anything about, Your watcher, Your watcher, Your watcher. Asks for the Tree of Knowledge of Good an Evil, in essence, and doesn't talk about the Tree of Life. God throws in this notion of the Tree of Life and then also throws in this idea of, and I'll also give you life if you watch over these commands. Now, of course, we've got this notion when we talked about the tress that the Tree of Life seems to have something to do with the mitzvot. As Solomon himself will say, in a different book, in the Book of Mishlei, "eitz chaim hi lemachazikim bah," the Torah is a kind of Tree of Life.  So it's interesting (inaudible - dog barking 00:42:42) -- 

So the Tree of Life are these mitzvot. It's interesting that back in the garden when man was banished, so he could no longer serve and work the land. He is actually going to work a different land, God say, you're going to work a different land. What does God do with the tree that needs to be watched over? He sets up these angels that are going to watch over the tree, watch over the Tree of Life. Now, here comes God and says, well, Solomon, you know, you're going to get long life if you watch over those mitzvot. It really seems very reminiscent of the Tree of Life. It's almost as if there's a Tree of Life playing out and there's a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in this dream somehow and perhaps in Solomon's kingship. 

So that's something we'll want to look out for. Frankly, that wasn't something I had really noticed before and I’m not sure what to do with it. Maybe we'll keep it in mind as we progress and see what it is that we make of that. So, meanwhile, a bunch of you guys have your hand up. I just want to also recognize something that one of you guys said on the chat. So, Jeff Berger, where's Jeff? I can't find Jeff. Jeff is somewhere here on my screen. 

So, Jeff, from the UK, Rabbi Jeff says, echoes of Pharaoh's dream, and he awoke and it was a dream. Now, this is really quite intriguing, and I think Jeff is exactly on the mark over here. I'm going to get to the rest of you guys with your hand up too, but I just want to focus on what Jeff said here. This is a big deal. This language, "vayikatz Shlomo v'hinei chalom," and Solomon woke up and behold it was a dream. We've had those words before. We've actually had those words with Pharaoh. Remember Pharaoh has a dream and he wakes up and what is Pharaoh dreaming about? Pharaoh is dreaming about those cows. Those beautiful cows and the ugly cows, then the ugly cows devour the beautiful cows and he doesn't know what it means. He wakes up and "vayikatzh Shlomo v'hinei chalom," and he wakes up and behold it was a dream.  

Now, what do we make of that? That's a very interesting little string to tug on. That little comparison of Pharaoh's dream to Solomon's dream and we'll have more to say about that in the weeks ahead. For the meantime, let me -- I'm really interested in hearing what the rest of you guys have to say, so I'm going to get off my soapbox in a second, but I want to bring things full circle to why it was that I wanted to talk about. Why it was that I wanted to read the dream narrative with you. I wanted to make a point in an introductory way about this dram and its connection to the story of the two mothers battling for the child. Here is the introductory point that I wanted to make. 

This is an observation that was brought up to me five or six years ago by Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, who I had the pleasure of seeing not long ago here in Israel. He actually told me this, minutes before I got on stage, at the 2016 or 2017 Yemei Iyun B'Tanach, to give my little talk, and it changed the way I gave that talk about Solomon and the two babies. He pointed out the connection between Pharaoh's dream and Solomon's dream in exactly the same way that Rabbi Jeff from the UK just pointed out. 

What he said was a very fascinating and intriguing possibility. I can't prove that it's true but it's a very intriguing possibility. What does the word, "vayikatz," mean? Normally we translate the word, "vayikatz," to wake up. But how awake are you when you're vayikatz? How awake are you? There's another time, by the way, when we have the language, vayikatz. Where else do we have vayikatz, besides Solomon? Besides Pharaoh? 

Moshe:  "Vayikatz Yaakov mishnato," 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Exactly. "Vayikatz -- was that Moshe? 

Moshe:  Yes. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yes, it is. Moshe has probably leined this for us, out ba'al koreh, but it's exactly right. It's "vayikatz Yaakov mishnato," it's Jacob's dream. Now if you go back to Jacob's dream, which is the first time I think you have this language, there's an interesting quality to that vayikatz. Which is when exactly does Jacob wake up and what's the quality of that woken-upness?

Let me take you into that "vayikatz Yaakov," Let's look at it on screen for a moment. Moshe, do you happen to know what the address of that is? Where is -- 

Moshe:  I know it's the beginning of Vayeitzei. So it would be maybe 27? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Let's take a look. 

Moshe:  Nope, 28, try that. Right before that. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Here we go. So here's Jacob's dream in the middle of Chapter 28, so follow along with me. Here he is, he's had this dream, God in heaven, I’m going to give you this land, it's going to be great, I’m going to watch over you. Now, here's vayikatz, Verse 16. "Vayikatz Yaakov mishnato," and Jacob woke up from his sleep and says, wow I can't even believe that God has been here, and I didn't even know that. "Vayira," and he was scared, and he says, "mah nora hamakom hazeh ein zeh ki im bein Elokim v'zeh sha'ar hashamayim," wow, I can't even believe this is true. This must be the portal, a wormhole, to a whole new universe with God in it.

Then it says, "vayash'keim Yaakov baboker vayikav et ha'even asher sam mei'roshotav," and Jacob woke up in the morning and he took that stone that was underneath his head and he made it a matzeivah and he put oil on it and called it Beit El and he made a pledge to God. Now, something very sly just happened in Verse 18. I want you folks to compare Verse 18, right over here, to Verse 16, over here, and tell me what the problem is when you read Verse 18 after Verse 16. 

Jeanette:  Could you scroll it a little bit more? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Sure, which way? This way? 

Jeanette:  Thank you.

Ax:  Which one is it? Vayitzku -- 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Take a look at 16, "vayikatz Yaakov mishnato," and take a look at 18. What's the problem? 

Mx:  He woke up after he woke up.

Rabbi Fohrman:  He woke up after he woke up. What's the deal with that? That was Menachem's point to me. How exactly does that work? I thought he was already up how could he wake up in the morning when he was up already?

Isaac:  And when? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  He realized he was dreaming and -- 

Isaac:  When did he wake up the first time? You don't know when in the night he woke up either. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Right. So seemingly -- but it never said that he went back to sleep, that was Menachem's point. He was up, you know what I mean? If you have a scary dream in the middle of the night you're up. But how do you say, and he woke up in the morning, without saying and then he went back to sleep? He woke up and he had his realization and then he woke up in the morning. Menachem's point is you never told me that he went back to sleep. So that leads to a very interesting interpretative possibility, boys and girls, which is what? 

Isaac:  Nisht ah hein, nisht ah heir.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Okay. 

Isaac:  He sort of woke up groggily or whatever and said something, as did Pharaoh. He woke up, sort of, and he fell back asleep. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Now take that same logic and take it just one little baby step further. What might the vayikatz mean? Let me give you a hint. Let's go to the next vayakitz, with Pharaoh. When is Pharaoh vayikatz? After the dream with the cows. Let's go to Pharoah? Anybody know -- Moshe, where's the Pharaoh thingy? 

Moshe:  Perek Mem-Alef

Rabbi Fohrman:  Okay. So here's Pharaoh. He has this dream with the cows. Look, "vayikatz Paraoh," and after the dream he wakes up. Interesting, "vayishan vayachalom sheinit v'hinei sheva," then he goes back to sleep, or he's sleeping, "vayachalom sheinit," and he has a second dream. 

Now interestingly that there's a second dream after the first dream. Basically -- 

Isaac:  There's another vayikatz, "vayikatz Paraoh."

Rabbi Fohrman:  Where is that? 

Isaac:  At pasuk, I can't point to it --

Moshe:  Pasuk Zayin

Ax:  Right at the bottom of your screen. "Vayikatz Paraoh v'hinei chalom."

Ax:  Pasuk Zayin.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Right. "Vayikatz Paraoh v'hinei chalom." Pharaoh woke up and in fact it was a dream. Then "vayehi baboker vatipa'eim rucho," then in the morning, "vatipa'eim rucho," he was startled, "vayishlach Vayikra et kol chartumei Mitzrayim." So what are you telling me? In the morning he was startled? Again, it sounds like in the morning he woke up too, after he woke up, and in fact it was a dream. 

So Menachem's point here is the possibility that vayikatz might not mean that you woke up in the conventional way that we understand waking up. His possibility was that it could be that vayikatz means that in a dream you woke up. 

Isaac:  You realize you're dreaming. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Exactly. In the dream you realize you're dreaming. Did that ever happen to you? You're asleep and you're really freaked out by this nightmare you're having, or some sort of dream you're having. It feels very real to you and then, all of a sudden, you realize it's a dream within the dream. 

Now what's cool about that? The moment that in a dream you realize it's a dream. You kind of wake up within the dream. It's almost like you wake from the dream within the dream but you're still sleeping. Now what possibility emerges then? What possibility emerges then is there is some sort of interaction between the conscious and the unconscious mind, which is very unusual at that moment, where you're still asleep and now, all of a sudden, having realized that you've dreamt, you're almost in control of your dream. You can actually act with your conscious mind within the unconscious space of your dream and direst things in ways that your conscious mind may not have been able to do before. 

In other words, you could almost ask a question of the dream at that point in a way that you can't when you wake up. You can inquire something of the dream. You could say where is this dream going? That, Menachem Aryeh, is what the vayikatz is. So when Jacob is vayikatz, he's still sleeping, but what happens is he realizes that a dream is going on and his conscious mind is able to enter into that and interrogate that and realize within the dream what the significance of what happened is. Then he wakes up in the morning and his conscious mind fully takes over within conscious phase and he makes his neder

Now if you take this idea, which I admit is speculative, it may not be true, it's speculative, but if you take it into Solomon's dream, there's a really interesting possibility that emerges about the story of the two women and the baby. Which is what would happen -- which is did the story of the women and the baby really happen or was it just the next part of the dream? The part of the dream in which Solomon's conscious mind is able to interact with his unconscious mind.

In other words, is it possible that when it says vayikatz Shlomo in that dream with God, he's still dreaming? Then there's the story of Solomon and the two women. Now let's say that's true, and I grant you that that's a speculative possibility. If that's true, how does that change things? Why is that such a big deal if that were true? What if the story of Solomon and the two babies was part of the dream rather than an event that took place afterwards? How does that change everything? 

In other words, first of all, it's sort of fits because there's something sort of fairytale-like about that story of Solomon.  The whole thing is fairytale-like. He's going to Givon, he's offering 1,000 offerings, God comes to him in this dream-like state. He says I love you, I'll give you anything you want. That doesn't happen very often in real life. That's like a dream thing to happen. 

Isaac J:  Then two prostitutes show up in the royal chamber. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Two prostitutes just show up and like here's this -- it's very, it's a dream-like weird sequence. We have these children and one's dead and one's alive. The king says bring a sword. All of Israel hails him. It doesn't even necessarily mean all of Israel. In the dream, all of Israel hailed him for this thing. So now the question is what's the significance of this happening in the dream?

Now, when Pharoah had a second dream there was something divine about that second dream. Is there something divine about this story of Solomon and the two women? Sort of the predicate that I want to put down today is a kind of introduction to our exploration of these episodes in the coming weeks, is the following possibility. Let's say the story of Solomon and the two babies is part of the dream. It doesn't have to be a part of the dream. What I'm going to say now is not dependent upon that, but it's even nicer if that's true. 

Here's the possibility that I want to suggest to you. Conventionally the way we understand -- here's how I think everything changes if Solomon and the two babies is part of the dream. Conventionally, when you read the story of Solomon and the two babies, you think that the point of the story is to demonstrate Solomon's wisdom. In the dream, God said I'm going to give you wisdom, and presumably by the time he wakes up he's got this great wisdom. Then the next thing that happens is some magical demonstration of Solomon's great wisdom and then everyone claps and says wow, that really proves Solomon is a smart guy. 

Let's say it's in the dream. If it's in the dream, then it doesn't really prove in reality Solomon's wisdom because it's just part of the dream. So why are you even telling me this, God? Like why does the Bible bother telling me about the rest of this dream? What am I supposed to understand from the rest of this dream if it was just a dream? 

Here's what I want to suggest. Maybe the story of King Solomon and the two babies is not a story that proves Solomon's wisdom. It doesn't -- it's not like Solomon got wisdom and here's the proof of that. Maybe it's the mechanism through which Solomon attains wisdom. In other words, God makes a promise. Sure, I'll give you wisdom. How is the promise fulfilled? This is the mysterious way the promise is fulfilled. God says here's a story. Think about it well. This is the story that gives you wisdom. It's actually the mechanism through which wisdom is attained. 

Then you say well I don't get that. What happened there that gave him such incredible wisdom? That is where the intertextual reads come in. there's something about this story which is very, very, spooky for Solomon. As Solomon mediates on this story and really understands it, Solomon dreams another night about the story and another night about the story and lets him haunt not only his nights but his waking days as well. and ponders over and over the lessons of the king and the two babies. He will achieve the wisdom he's looking for, but it's not something you just get as a gift with a magic wand of God waving His hand and all of a sudden you get wisdom. It's something you actually achieve. 

which really leads me to another question, which is like, you know, it's so fairytale-like. How do you ask for wisdom? It's like Aladdin, you know what I mean? It's the genie. It's like sure, I want wisdom? I'll wave my magic wand you can have wisdom. Like let me ask you, wisdom ain't like -- wisdom is a very precious -- wisdom is actually not like riches. It's not like honor. It's not even like success. 

You can imagine all those other things that Solomon would ask for that could really be granted by the wave of a divine wand. You could imagine God waving His wand and making somebody rich. You could imagine God waving His wand and making somebody powerful, waving His wand and making somebody have all these really spiffy clothes and make it seem like he's got all this honor.

Can you imagine God waving His wand and all of a sudden someone becomes wise? Like that's not how it works to become wise. You can't become wise just because someone with a lot of power, even an all-powerful being waves -- the definition of wisdom is almost hard-won through life experience. That's just what wisdom is. How do you take a shortcut to it? Wisdom -- how do you just get wisdom? 

What I want to suggest is that Solomon didn't just get wisdom. There was a mechanism through which he achieved wisdom. The mechanism was the story if Solomon and the two babies. There's something about this dream that Solomon needs to struggle with and is the way that he achieves wisdom in life. I think we'll begin to see it as we begin to jump into the story and really, really, take it apart, which we'll do in coming weeks. 

In the meantime there's much more to say about the story of the dream even before we get to the story of Solomon and the two babies, some of which I see showing up in the chat, so let me just pick on some of you guys who have your hand raised. I'll devote our last minute to kind of your observations and let's see where that goes and we'll look at some of what you guys said in the chat as well. So let's start with Isaac. Go ahead. 

Isaac J:  thank you, Rabbi. Solomon did not ask for wisdom in general. He didn't say I want to be able to do this, I want to be able to do that. He asked specifically lishpot, in order to judge between people. I don't even know if lishpot is part of the work of a king, when you think about it. Not to judge, not a king. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  That's true, although seemingly a king --seemingly it is. A king can judge. It's part of his work or certainly in Solomon's world, that is. It's true. He's seeking wisdom not as an end in and of itself. He's seeking wisdom so as to be able to carry out his duties as leader of his people. I think that's certainly true. Isaac, what were you going to say? 

Isaac Jemal:  So as I was reading the text I thought that there were some Joseph words here. Chacham navon asher kamocha, that part actually spoke to Joseph about. Then there was a lot of Moses comments where ein kamocha, there's not going to be like you and that we only heard when we spoke about Moses. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Okay so I'll just comment that you're absolutely right twice, but I'm going to double down on the Joseph connection which you're suggesting there rather than the Moses connections, because even the Moses connection is a Joseph connection. In other words, just a background what Isaac is saying. 

You and I noticed before that vayikatz Pharoah, that language -- I'm sorry vayikatz Shlomo, and Solomon woke up reminds us of Pharoah but it's not just that which reminds us of Pharoah. Isaac is pointing out that there's other stuff in this story that's reminding us of Pharoah too. For example, the granting of wisdom. What kind of wisdom? It says there's going to be no one who's a navon or chacham kamocha. No one is going to be as wise or as understanding as you. 

Well if I ask you in the Torah where else have you heard that line before, that there's nobody as wise or understanding as you? That would be Pharoah talking to Joseph after Joseph correctly interprets Pharoah's dream. Remember that story? Pharoah got this dream, can't figure it out. Don't know what it means that the ugly cows swallow the beautiful cows. Joseph comes along, correctly interprets the dream, Pharaoh's astounded and says wow, "acharei asher hodia Elokim es kol zot," after God has made all this known to you, "ein navon v'chacham kamocha" there is no one who is as wise or understanding as you. 

That language is now showing up in Solomon's dream.  Now, what does that mean to you? So the first thing that means to you is wow, that's kind if interesting. So it's not just that there's one connection between Pharaoh's experience and Solomon's experience, but there's this other connection between Pharaoh's experience and Solomon's experience. There's this ein navon v'chacham kamocha connection. 

Okay. That's interesting. That's true, but what do you make of that? If you want to understand what to make of it, you're going to have to actually wait for more connections to emerge, and we'll talk about this in weeks to come, but there are a whole host of very mysterious connections between Pharoah's experience in the Joseph story and Solomon's experience in this story. 

We've stumbled upon two or three of them now. There are more. We will talk about a little more of them tonight, but let's begin to speculate a little bit on the meaning of some of those connections and let's do that by actually doing a little bit -- a show of sort of compare and contrast. 

How would you contrast Pharaoh's experience with wisdom and Solomon's experience with wisdom? In Pharoah's experience, what happens? Pharoah has this dream. He has no understanding of the dream. God gives him Joseph who then interprets the dream for him. Pharoah, astounded, says wow, if God made all this known to you, there's no one as smart as you. I'm going to give you all these riches. Does that sound similar? That's what God says to Solomon. I'm going to give you all these riches. I'm going to give you all this honor. That's the same thing that happened with Joseph, that because Joseph had all this hard-won wisdom, I'm going to give you all these riches. 

Here is God saying Solomon, you've got all this wisdom, I'm going to give you riches too. The difference is that in Pharoah's case, there was someone else who was able to interpret the dream and someone else who's very wise and someone else who gets all the riches because he's wise. Pharoah's the one who wakes up and Pharoah's the one who has the dream.  

In the Solomon story, interestingly, Solomon is the one who has the dream, Solomon is the one who wake up like Pharaoh, but Solomon's also the one who gets the wisdom and Solomon is also the one who gets all the riches, but Solomon didn't do anything. Now I'm wondering if maybe this goes hand in hand with the observation we just had about Solomon waking up in the middle of the dream and the story of the two babies being part of the dream. 

In other words, who's the Joseph character in the Solomon story? Who interprets the dream? No one does yet. In other words, maybe once again the vehicle for Solomon to have his wisdom is going to be his ability, like Pharoah, to successfully interpret a crucial dream. To successfully interpret the story of Solomon and the two babies. The rest of his dream. 

Again, maybe God says sure, I'll give you wisdom. Here's the mechanism for achieving it. Here's your fable. Happy wisdom, Solomon. Then Solomon wakes up. Sure, he gets his wisdom along with his riches, along with everything else just like Joseph did, if he can do what Joseph did, which is figure out the riddle. Joseph had a riddle to figure out. There is no Joseph in the Solomon story. In the Solomon story, the same one who had the dream has to figure it out. If he does, wisdom is his along with all of its accoutrements, power and wealth and all of those things. So I'm wondering if those things go hand in hand with each other. Miriam, what were you going to say? 

Miriam:  He's interpreting his own dream. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yes. He's the Joseph character interpreting his own dream or tasked with interpreting his own dream. His kingship will be the test of the mettle. In other words, as he develops as king, what the reader needs to keep on asking himself is hmm, did he get that wisdom? In his dream he was hailed by all of Israel. What did that wisdom look like? How did it play out in his kingship? Is he acting wisely? What does it look like? 

So I'm wondering if that's an open question that the reader is challenged with that kind of has to figure out as time goes on. Vadim, what were you going to say? 

Vadim:  Many things, but they all dropped off. The last one that comes to mind is if it's a mashal, if it's in a vision, then why would all Israel be afraid at the end? Because it says vayishma kol yisrael, all Israel heard. If it's his private vision, how would Israel here? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  No, because that's part of his private vision. Possibly, that's also part of his private vision. Everyone congratulates him and he wakes up and that's the end and then the story goes on. My suggestion would possibly be that that is part of -- I want to close with the point that Moshe made in the chat here, which is also, Reb Moshe writes, there's the path to the tree of life, which is kind of interesting. 

This is an interesting thing to ponder. We talked before about tree of knowledge and tree of life metaphors in the dream and the idea that there's both. It's almost as if Solomon is asking for tree of knowledge kind of stuff and God is saying oh by the way, did you forget about the tree of life? I can give you long life too. Right? Tree of life kind of stuff.  All you need to do is watch over these mitzvot. That doesn't come for nothing. It comes from watching over these mitzvot

What's interesting is that if you go back to the garden those themes of watching the mitzvot express themselves with the idea of watching the tree of life, but not just watching the tree of life, watching what's called the path of the tree of life. Remember, when God sets up His angels, they are there lishmor et derech eitz hachaim, to watch over the path of the tree of life. What is the path of the tree of life? It's an intriguing question. 

The path of the tree of life, the thing that we're bidden to watch over for seems to be a pathway -- a way of living in the concert with the principles of the tree of life. Later on in the Torah, the metaphor of lishmor derech appears one more time. Lishmor not the derech eitz chaim, but lishmor derech Hashem. It actually occurs 17 chapters later or so in the Abraham story. In the story of Abraham in Sodom, God says that Abraham is here lishmor et derech Hashem and then immediately after that la'asot tzedakah umishpat, to do tzedek and mishpat, to do righteousness and justice. 

Interestingly is the same thing that Solomon is asking for. Solomon is asking for the ability to at least judge. Interestingly he doesn't mention righteousness, he mentions to judge justly, not righteously. When Abraham is told about the derech Hashem, the pathway of the tree of life or the pathway of God and watching over the pathway and the language that evokes the garden, he's told about two central values, tzedek and mishpat, righteousness and justice. 

It's interesting that Solomon makes reference to only one of those. Is God referencing a second one of those and an interesting question, what is wisdom about? Is it really enough to be just? Is that what wisdom is for or does wisdom give you the ability to create some sort of hybrid between righteousness and justice? 

So these are some sort of stream of consciousness thoughts I have and maybe that's an appropriate thing for someone who's lecturing in the middle of the night to be talking about, waking up and dreaming. Maybe this whole talk has been one dream within a dream to me in my own stream of consciousness musing, but the conscious part of my mind wants you to remember aside from all of these musings, which hopefully we'll come back to and develop over time, the following central idea. That the story of Solomon and the two babies might not just be a demonstration of Solomon's wisdom, but a mechanism through which he achieves that wisdom. 

What is so powerful about this story? What is so tantalizing about this story? Why is this the story which if you're Solomon, you can go back to it over and over and over again at different stages of your life and it's almost like everything you need to know to be wise, everything you need to know to equip yourself with wisdom and integrity and justice and righteousness in your life comes from your memories of this dream that you had, this strange story about where you managed to execute judgment -- justice with these two women and to find the live baby and not the dead baby.

That I think is a very tantalizing question, to which the Torah point us to some very interesting answers to and to hear those, we have to hear the echoes in the story, not just of the dream but in the story of Solomon and the two babies.  

So boys and girls, here's your homework for next week, ladies and gents. Take a look -- what we've done today is trace some of the intertextual parallels in the story of the dream. There are more. There are other Pharoah references as well that we haven't yet picked up on. We'll talk a little bit about some of those next week the Pharoah Joseph references in the story of the dream.

Your homework is that as you go forward into the story of Solomon and the two babies, what other stories in the Torah, what earlier stories in the Torah does that story remind you of? Are there other earlier stories being evoked that Solomon is supposed to be thinking about as he contemplates the story of in his dream how he managed to adjudicate a case of the women and the two babies? 

If you look carefully at the language, I think you'll find at least two stories and maybe more which the Torah seems to be -- which the author of Melachim, of Kings seems to be referencing, and that I think is the beginning of a grand journey into the nature of Solomon's wisdom and what it was that he could possibly learn from this fable that he saw in his dream. 

So I'll end over here and go back to sleep myself for my second part of my dreams and next time I see you it will probably be from a different continent. In the meantime, I will bid you farewell. Happy thinking, and we'll pick up next week where we left off and I'll see you then. 

Isaac J:  Thank you, rabbi. 

Karyn:  Thank you. Sleep well. Happy dreams. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Thanks for joining. See you guys. Thank you very much. 

Isaac J:  This whole class was a dream. What are you talking about? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  That's right.

Bernie:  Thank you very much. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  The thing about dreaming is you never know when you're really dreaming or you're awake. It's like one of these mysteries. Okay, guys.  

Jeanette:  Rabbi Fohrman, did Solomon wake up from that second dream if the story of the two women -- the two babies -- 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Well it's funny because you never have that at the end. It never says vayashkeim baboker, that he woke up. So then you have the tantalizing question is if it's true, when does the dream really end? You never hear about that. Again, it's a speculative theory, Menachem's theory, that it's a dream within a dream, but even if it's not a dream within a dream I would suggest that it's still the case. In other words, even if it actually happened, I want to suggest that tit's stull a mechanism that God uses to give Solomon wisdom rather than a device that proves his wisdom. 

It's not the cleverest thig in the world. It doesn't make you the next supreme court justice just because you could figure it out, but it may be a touchstone to wisdom that Solomon can mine to learn everything he needs to know to go forward and that's the theory I'm going to develop in the coming weeks. Okay, guys. See you then.

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