A Lesson From King Solomon

The next three readings examine how good Judgment is nuanced. It takes into account both facts and values, and blends the two together into a viable and morally sound solution.

Adapted from Chabad.org

Shortly after King Solomon was crowned king of Israel, G-d appeared to him in a dream and asked: What do you desire? Wealth? Power? Fame? Solomon asked for one thing only: Wisdom.

The next morning, two women appeared before him in his chamber. There was a beautiful baby boy, and each claimed to be the mother of this child. With no evidence except each woman’s word, it seemed impossible to know who was telling the truth. After a moment of thought, King Solomon issued his ruling: “Bring forth a sword; we will cut the baby in two, and each woman will receive one half.”

Immediately upon hearing this, one of the women began crying, and screamed that the other woman could have the baby, just as long as the baby was not hurt in any way. The other woman stood by impassively. “Give her the child,” said King Solomon, pointing to the first woman. “She is the true mother.”

King Solomon wrote, “Just as water reflects a face to a face, so does the heart of a man to a man.” One might ask why King Solomon chose to use water as the metaphor for reflection, and not a mirror? Some say the answer is that while one can look into a mirror from any angle, when you wish to look at yourself in water, you must bend. In order to execute true Judgment, one must be able to bend and understand the ones being judged.

“Wisdom is often times nearer when we stoop than when we soar.”