The king then took an oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.” — 1 Kings –30
The Torah portion for this week, Chayei Sarah, which means “the life of Sarah,” is from Genesis 23:1—25:18 and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 1:1–31.
Inside the city of Jerusalem, there is a little jewelry shop known for creating hammered pieces engraved with meaningful words. Some people order pieces with their names, others with favorite Bible verses. However, the store’s most popular piece is a silver ring with the Hebrew version of these words: “This too shall pass.” Thousands of years ago, this often-quoted phrase was made known to the world in those very same streets.
There are many different versions of the story, but the simplest version is this: A man who was suffering from his many life challenges decided to travel to Jerusalem in order to seek advice from King Solomon, the wisest man of all. After listening to the man’s problems, Solomon gave him a ring bearing the inscription “this too shall pass.” The man was consoled and was at peace.
In this week’s Torah portion, the story of Abraham’s life is concluded. The Jewish sages teach that Abraham endured 10 difficult tests during his lifetime, beginning with the commandment to leave his birthplace for an unknown land and ending with the commandment to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. In this week’s Haftorah, we read about the final days of King David’s life. He also endured many trials and tribulations during his lifetime. From facing the giant Goliath to being hunted down by King Saul as a common criminal, to having his own son rebel against him, King David was no stranger to difficulties and challenges. Yet, like Abraham, he got through them all with prayer and faith.
In this particular reading, David’s final challenge is making sure that his son Solomon would succeed him. Another son was already trying to seize the kingship even as David was still alive. So David promised his wife, Bathsheba, that their son Solomon would be the one to become the next king. He vowed: “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you . . .”
The sages note that David referred to God as the one “who has delivered me out of every trouble” and they comment that those words would seem to be unnecessary. Yet King David wanted to teach Bathsheba how God had helped him through life’s challenges. So important is the message that it would one day end up on his son’s famous ring: Just as God has saved us from troubles before, He will save us again; this too shall pass.
Friends, let us carry these words with us throughout the days and years of our lives. Let us constantly think of them and turn to them as though they were a ring on our finger reminding us: Troubles come and troubles go, but God’s salvation is forever.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein