“מַה-יִּתְרוֹן, לָאָדָם: בְּכָל-עֲמָלוֹ–שֶׁיַּעֲמֹל, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ”
“What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun?”
In chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon repeats himself and describes a life of achieving wealth, pleasures and honors. He concludes;
“וּפָנִיתִי אֲנִי, בְּכָל-מַעֲשַׂי שֶׁעָשׂוּ יָדַי, וּבֶעָמָל, שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת; וְהִנֵּה הַכֹּל הֶבֶל וּרְעוּתרוּחַ, וְאֵין יִתְרוֹן תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ”
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
King Solomon was known as the wisest person ever lived (1 Kings 5:10). He built the first and long lasting Holy Temple and conducted no wars. It could sound as strange statement from such a high person but as we know the Bible speaks with codes.
The ‘Sun’ is the aspect of the Zeir Anpin and the Torah that brings life to this world. All the gains in the material world has no value without the Torah.
The word ‘תחת’, ‘under’ in Hebrew also means ‘replacement’. All the material existence, even honor in his world can not replace the Torah. Because we all die and disconnect from our material existence, body and property, all we have left is what our soul gains from study and following the Torah.
When the wisest man of all gives us advice, it would be wise of us to listen and follow.