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“And he shall not have too many wives, so that his heart may not turn astray; and he shall not greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” (17:17)

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The Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 2:6, explains why Shlomo Ha’Melech was deposed. Chazal comment that the “yud” of the word vcrh came before Hashem and “complained” that Shlomo Ha’Melech was rejecting a Torah prohibition. The Torah states that the king may not increase his wives, and Shlomo had done just that. Hashem responded that a thousand Shlomos would come and go, but never would a single letter of the Torah be eliminated. We must endeavor to understand why, specifically, it was the “yud” that complained. Why did not any of the other letters voice their opinion ? What underlying message did the letter “yud” communicate that caused such a sharp reaction ?

Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, z.l., offers a profound explanation. Shlomo Ha’Melech, the wisest of all men, certainly was able to explore the rationale behind the prohibition of having too many wives. Ostensibly he felt that the stated reason, “They would sway him away from Hashem,” did not apply to him.  In addition, Shlomo Ha’Melech was a great tzaddik and meticulous in every area of mitzvah observance. Surely he had a strong basis for what he was doing. What is the explanation ? His error was in the area of “aveirah lishmah,” transgressing for the purpose of doing a mitzvah or performing an aveirah with a noble intention.

The Gaon M’Vilna writes that from the time of Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, every mitzvah has been “locked in place.” There is no flexibility in “performing avei’ros.” Yaakov Avinu, who married two sisters, and Amram, who married his aunt, both participated in marriage unions which are prohibited by Torah law. They did this, however, before the Torah was given to us. From the time the Torah “officially” became our religious code and blueprint for life, the halachic status of the mitzvos has been immutable. Shlomo Ha’Melech’s “cheshbonos,” personal reasons, albeit noble, were insufficient justification to transcend the law.

Horav Yitzchak Goldwasser, Shlita, explains the Gaon’s thesis in the following manner: When Bnei Yisrael were liberated from the Egyptian bondage, we became the servants of Hashem by virtue of His redemption of us. A servant must submit himself totally and unequivocally to his master without demanding a rationale for his master’s command. He serves because his master commands — regardless of the reason! Likewise, the underlying reason for the mitzvah in no way plays a role in the need for complete compliance to it. The fact that it is the tzivui Hashem, the command of Hashem, should be sufficient reason!

We now understand why it was the letter “yud” which criticized Shlomo Ha’Melech’s behavior. When the “yud” serves as a prefix to a verb, it transforms the verb into a command!  Shlomo’s action was not an inappropriate response given the rationale of the mitzvah. Rationale, however, does not play a role in the validity of a mitzvah. The mere fact that it is a tzivui Hashem is what determines its authority. Shlomo Ha’Melech’s action undermined the “tzivui Hashem” aspect of the mitzvah. Hashem responded that the Torah is unalterable. It is perfect in its essence and flawless in its integrity. One who does not accept the sovereignty of Hashem as presented by the Torah does not warrant his own monarchy.

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