Howard Salamon


Its (sun’s) source is the end of the heavens and its circuit is to their end; nothing is hidden from its heat. God’s Torah is perfect restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy making the simple one wise (Psalms 19:7,8)


Saadia Gaon says that the phrase “The sun said” is missing. The sentence should, read as follows: “The sun said, ‘God’s Torah is perfect’” (Ibn Ezrah 19:8).

 In Psalms 19 read on shabbos, King David first discusses natural wonders. He then transitions to the wonders of the Torah.  Ibn Ezra quotes Saadia Gaon who says you need to add the words “the sun said”— meaning that creation is saying (metaphorically) that as wondrous as creation is, Torah is even more perfect. How are we to understand this? If we look at creation, we see the many wonders, and at the same time we know there’s much more we can never penetrate. In what manner does Torah surpass creation?

We have two answers. Rabbi Israel Chait said that Torah teaches us perfection, whereas nature does not. Torah teaches us about morality, justice, kindness, etc. But from nature, we can never learn about character perfection as we can through Torah, which specifies matters like tzedaka and tithes. The second answer my friend Marshall suggested: nature offers no “communication” or words. We can only “derive” from observation. But Torah is God’s very articulations: perfectly formulated truths. We gain far more from studying God’s words and thoughts than by deriving our own notions from nature. 

The sun, as it were, “admits” to Torah’s superiority with the phrase, “God’s Torah is perfect.” Meaning, Torah is perfect, whereas nature is not. Nature lacks God’s articulated words and thoughts. The sun’s admission of Torah’s superiority means that in nature itself this discrepancy is observed.