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“And he should not accumulate wives lest his heart turn away from Hashem.” (17:17)

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The Torah states in very strong terms the prohibition of Jewish king from accumulating a large number of wives, horses, or wealth. To each of these prohibitions the Torah attaches a reason, “Lest his heart turn away from Hashem.” Shlomo Hamelech, whose Torah wisdom was so immense and whose heart was so pure, felt certain that no surfeit of wives would turn his heart from Hashem. He therefore declared that he maintained the strength to withstand all the trials without sinning, and proceeded to transgress these commandments. The Midrash points out that when Shlomo transgressed these commandments, the letter “yud” of the word “yarbeh” (the king may not have too many) flew up before Hashem and complained that Shlomo had uprooted it by these various transgressions since he had nullified these mitzvos, and perhaps, the whole Torah, would now become nullified.

Hashem quieted it down, with the pledge that Shlomo and a thousand like him would fade away but not one letter, even the smallest one, the “yud”, would ever be uprooted from the Torah. To illustrate Shlomo Hamelech’s error to all future generations, Hashem withdrew from him the special wisdom that Shlomo trusted would protect him from falling into the clutches of sin.

Why was the only letter to rise up and complain the “yud”. Didt not Shlomo’s audacious act threaten the whole word? This can be clarified with the understanding of the function of the letter “yud” in changing the tense of a word from the past – it was (vhv) – to it will be (vhvh). The letter “yud” represents the future generations which were offended by Shlomo’s act. Their accusations were not leveled at Shlomo in his own right, but rather at the impression and possible destructive influence caused by this defiant act. Shlomo, perhaps, was aware of his pure nature, but could his statement be applied to future generations who might follow in his footsteps? These generations would include people who would definitely not be of the same caliber and mettle as he. These people, with their selfish notions and personal prejudices would conjure up various rationales for changing the Torah’s commandments to suit themselves. Hashem’s response was immediate, “A thousand Shlomos would come and go, but not one iota of the Torah would ever be changed.”

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