Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Adam’s PSALM for Shabbat
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2018 09:12:43 PM
Number of views: 1685

The Talmud (Shabbat 154) states, "Torah scholars grow wiser as they grow older, but boors become more foolish as they age."

We all see the same world, but how we interpret the events that we see varies greatly. King Solomon says (Mishlei 2:14), "The eyes of a wise person are in his head." How shall this verse be understood? Aren't everyone's eyes in one's head? The explanation is that the head in this verse refers to the intellect. A wise person processes the events that he sees through the intellect. A fool does not give proper thought to what he sees and thus comes to erroneous conclusions.

On Shabbat, we recite Chapter 92 of Tehillim, "A Song of Praise for the Shabbat Day." However, in this chapter of Tehillim there is not even one word of praise for Shabbat. What connection, then, does this Chapter have with Shabbat?

The Midrash says that this Chapter was composed and recited by Adam HaRishon. Adam was created on Friday, and he said this Chapter at the onset of Shabbat. Thus, it is NOT a PSALM that speaks about Shabbat, but rather a Tehillim that was said ON Shabbat.

Shabbat was Adam's first FULL day of existence, on which he saw the world in all of its splendid beauty and glory. He marveled at G-d's handiwork, Who had created a perfect world. Thus he exclaims, "You have gladdened me, G-d, with Your deeds, at the works of Your hands, I sing a joyous song."

There was only one major problem. In this perfect world, there appeared to be imperfection. Adam foresaw that the wicked would prosper, and the righteous would suffer. This seems to be a miscarriage of justice. However, Adam understood and thus states, "How great are your deeds, G-d, exceedingly profound are Your thoughts." Looking at the physical world with our eyes is not enough. One must try to fathom and understand G-d's intentions.

As Adam continues in Tehillim 92, "A boor cannot know, nor can a fool understand this, when the wicked blossom now like grass … so that they will be destroyed in eternity." There is no miscarriage of justice and the world is indeed perfect. If one sees imperfection, it is because we fail to understand G-d's plans. Things are always going according to plan, not our plan, but His Plan.

There is another world, which is spiritual and eternal, where the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. The wicked may prosper only in this temporary physical world, so to order to allow free will to operate.

Because if the wicked would be punished immediately, and the righteous would be rewarded immediately, then we would be like robots or puppets without free will. G-d does not desire puppets but rather partners in Tikkun Olam.

Getting back to Mishlei 2:14, "The eyes of a wise person are in his head," refers to the wise person's perception. The wise person sees the same physical world as the fool, but he understands that this is only a temporary world, as the Mishnah in Avot states, "This world is only a corridor or a lobby that leads one to the eternal palace of the next world."

The fool is not a profound thinker. He sees a person who does not observe a Torah way of life, living in luxury while some righteous people live with great suffering. Thus, the fool concludes that there is no justice in this world. However, that is only because he fails to use his intellect. He does not realize that there is a parallel, spiritual and eternal world beyond our perception. Thus in Tehillim 92, Adam explains why this is a perfect world after all.

During the work week, we are too busy with our smart phones to think profound thoughts. Therefore, our observation of the world may lead us to think that the wicked are rewarded more than the righteous. However, on Shabbat, which the Talmud tells us is a Portal to Olam Haba, the eternal spiritual world, we realize that the discrepancy between the lot of the righteous and the wicked is only an illusion. With this profound idea in mind, we can exercise our free will properly.

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