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Story: Parshat Lech Lecha, 11/8/19

11/10/2019 10:54:48 PM

Nov10

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This week’s Torah portion is parshat Lech Lecha where God asks Abraham to go on a journey. He travels hundreds and hundreds of miles with Sarah and all their possessions so they can make it to the Land of Israel.

We had another great leader, King Solomon who went on a different kind of journey. King Solomon was known as the wisest person in the world. He knew the language of every animal. He kidnapped Ashmodai, the king of the demons, and he could control the wind.

King Solomon built up a huge kingdom, he had built the great Temple in Jerusalem, he had accomplished everything he wanted. There is a danger to being so wise and so powerful – you don’t always remember to treat everyone the right way. You just get used to commanding someone and having that person do it – the pleases and thank yous are forgotten. The idea that every person, every creature is important is forgotten. And so King Solomon was wise and powerful, but not so nice.

The other problem with being so wise and powerful is that King Solomon got bored. It makes sense – he had done everything, solved every problem. So he looked for new mysteries to explore.

And that’s why King Solomon, Ashmodai, and his advisers ended up on a journey. And let me tell you, King Solomon travelled in style. Using his control of the winds, they flew on a great carpet. On their journey, they were looking to uncover something Important.

From the air, they saw a large structure none of them had never seen before mostly buried by the sands of the desert. They touched down and Solomon commanded the winds to blow the sand away from the building – which is pretty cool, right? This revealed an ancient palace. But after circling the palace carefully three times, they didn’t see a way to get in.

King Solomon commanded Ashmodai to have demons find someone who could help them get inside. They returned with a giant eagle who was 700 years old. She knew of the palace, but didn’t know how to get in. But she returned with her older sister, the oldest of all the giant eagles, who was 1300 years old. She remembered that on the west side, there used to be a door.

King Solomon commanded the wind to blast away the dust from ages past on that exact spot and after a few minutes, the wind uncovered an old iron door, which they were able to open. Inside was amazing. Each room was designed with pearls and gold and precious stones – diamonds and emeralds and rubies and more. Each room was more magnificent than the last.

Taking steps down, King Solomon finds even more treasure underground. All the rooms seem to surround this one room in the middle. When he and his group enter, they see statues of people. Amazingly, the statues come to life and shockingly move to attack them. King Solomon speaks God’s name and the statues returned to their places.

On the floor in the middle of the room, there was writing that even King Solomon didn’t know. He commanded Ashmodai to translate it. The writing said:

“I am Shadad ben Ad. I ruled over a thousand thousand provinces. I rode on a thousand thousand horses. I commanded a thousand thousand kings who were beneath me. I defeated a thousand thousand heroes in battle. But as powerful as I am, nothing remains of one’s possessions, but a good name.”

King Solomon had to sit down because he realized that he had just found something Important on his journey. As amazing as the eagles were, as amazing as the palace and the treasure were – after hearing those words, he realized that he still had work to do. He was wise and he was powerful, but he had forgotten how to be a good person.

They locked up the palace, covered it back with sand and then King Solomon did something he hadn’t done in years. He said thank you – to the great eagles, to the members of his party, and even to the wind. And the entire trip back on his flying carpet, King Solomon thought of all the ways he could show kindness and appreciation, in addition to wisdom and power.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Inspired by stories from Legends of the Jews: https://www.sefaria.org/Legends_of_the_Jews.4.5.115?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

And “The Mysterious Palace” by Howard Schwartz in the book, Elijah’s Violin.

 

Thu, July 9 2020 17 Tammuz 5780