Ariel Ben Avraham – Ecclesiastes: The illusion of vanity and the reality of love (XXXIII)
“If the snake bites before it is charmed, then there is no profit for the charmer’s tongue. The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but a fool is swallowed by his own lips. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also multiplies words. Man doesn’t know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him? The labor of fools wearies every one of them; for he doesn’t know how to go to the city.” (Ecclesiastes 10:11-15)
An undeveloped and uneducated discernment leads to foolish choices and decisions that can bring destruction. The same goes for an uncontrolled egotism, similar to an untamed snake that can kill the goodness that we have to embrace as the ruling principle in consciousness.
We have no profit, benefit or advancement in beliefs, thoughts, emotions and feelings inspired or fed by negative traits, but actually having the opposite. Hence we realize that our words and actions are the expressions of what we believe in, either good or bad. Thus we are able to know what is coming to us after what we say or do.
Nobody can tell us about the outcome of our actions but these. Our own ignorance leads us to the effects of our foolishness, derived from ego’s fantasies and illusions that obstruct our awareness of goodness as the city where we all belong. In this sense, “the city” is also Jerusalem as the permanent awareness of our connection with the Creator.
“Woe to you, land, when your king is a youth and your princes banquet [lit. eat] in the morning! Happy are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles and your princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! By slothfulness the roof sinks in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks.” (10:16-18)
We have learned that the earth and the land symbolize life, while kings and nobles represent the ruling beliefs and principles from which we conduct ourselves.
The first verse refers to wasteful and undermining traits and trends that turn life into something meaningless and futile as drunkenness, in contrast to the positive qualities that strengthen goodness as the cause and purpose of life.
Here we are warned to constantly live in goodness, and not fall in the idleness of vanity and futility that weaken and destroy the dignity of life.
“A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life glad; and money is the answer for all things.” (10:19)
This verse contains two separate statements, both meant to complement each other. As we have mentioned, the purpose of life is goodness as its laughter and enjoyment that are expressions of its plenitude and wholeness.
What money has to do with this? Money exists as the means to acquire services, goods and assets which are needed to achieve the plenitude and fullness of life in this material world under the sun.
We learned from our Sages that in the spiritual worlds there are no material possessions to be acquired, for the spirit is not sustained by matter. In this world the human body nurtures from physical food, for which we are commanded by God to work for. Thus we buy to acquire or possess what we need, in order to live and survive as human beings.
In this context we assimilate that “money is the answer of all things”, as the means to acquire the necessary things to make life as comfortable and pleasurable as God wants us to.
This is not meant to be forever while we live in the material world, for our Prophets tell us about “the end of times” when we won’t need money to live in the abundance and plenitude of the knowledge of the Creator.
- Ariel Ben Avraham
- Kochav Yaakov, Safed, northern Galilee, Israel
- Ariel Ben Avraham (f. Zapata) was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1958. After studying Cultural Anthropology in Bogotá moved to Chicago in 1984 where he worked as a television writer, reporter and producer for 20 years. In the 1990’s he produced video documentaries related to art, music, history and culture such as “Latin American Trails: Guatemala” distributed by Facets.org. Most of his life he studied ancient spiritual traditions and mysticism of major religions, understanding the mystic experience as the individual means to connect with the Creator of all. Since 2004 he studies and writes about Jewish mysticism and spirituality mainly derived from the Chassidic tradition, and the practical philosophy of the teachings of Jewish mystic sages. The book “God’s Love” is the compilation of many years studying and learning Jewish mysticism. The messages of his book are part of the content, exercises and processes of a series of seminars, lectures and retreats that he facilitates in Israel