A rare term I found in the holy scriptures troubles my understanding with great doubt. In the narration of the divine prophecy with the incommensurable grace that God gave Solomon, it is written:

ויתן אלהים חכמה לשלמה ותבונה הרבה מאד ורחב לב כחול אשר על־שפת הים

God gave Solomon science and great intelligence, and wideness of heart as vast as the sand on the seashore.

(Melachim I – I Kings 5:9)

By granting him science, I understand, by granting him intelligence too, but granting wideness of heart, as stated in the verse, I do not understand its significance nor can I assert its meaning. Should it mean a courageous and fighting spirit? It cannot be, because God says to David about Solomon:

הנה בן נולד לך הוא יהיה איש מנוחה והנחותי לו מכל אויביו מסביב כי שלמה יהיה שמו ושלום ושקט אתן על ישראל בימיו

But you will have a son who will be a quiet and peaceful man, and I will give him rest without rivals around nor enemies. [His name will be Salomon.] And in his days Israel will be granted with unparalleled peace and quiet.

(Divrei Hayamim I – Chronicles 22:9)

The previous prerogative of a fighting spirit is hence superfluous. Neither could it be understood as liberalism (generosity), then if Solomon was liberal (in generosity), David was not less liberal than him, as it was mentioned by numerous authorities, out of which I share the statement by David himself, wherein poverty he prepared for the house of the Lord hundred thousand talents of gold, one million talents of silver, copper, and iron:

הנה בעניי הכינותי לבית־יהוה זהב ככרים מאה־אלף וכסף אלף אלפים ככרים ולנחשת ולברזל אין משקל כי לרב היה ועצים ואבנים הכינותי

In my poverty, I prepared for the house of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stones…

(Divrei Hayamim I – Chronicles 22:14)

Did God want to grant Solomon with a rare excellence, specific and particular to him? Which one is it? Courage, not, because it was superfluous. Neither was liberalism because common to him and David. Which prerogative is it? And what does this rare term mean in the bible?

ורחב לב

and wideness of heart

When God wants to bestow something, he also grants the disposition to receive it. So was it suggested by the wise elders when they said that God does not bestow science unless a person already possesses it:

נותן חכמה אלא למי שיש בו חכמה

He grants wisdom to those who already possess wisdom

(Berachot 55a)

Who says here that He doesn’t bestow it unless someone already has the capacity to receive it. And there is no doubt that this capacity to receive was granted by birth, by forming his organs adapted to perception and speech.

The philosophers state, and it is therefore reasonable, that the heart of some warriors is proportionally small and this is based on the principle that they are rapid, active and reckless, because the heart of the center of the blood, and when it goes out of its cavity and spreads over the body makes them rush, audacious and belligerent. The heart of the wise is the opposite, it is said to be very big and capable. All vital spirits (blood), understanding from within, don’t delay to go throughout the body, rendering the wise, shy, peaceful and calm.

Now I understand. Since God was willing to concede wisdom to Solomon, He gave him first the disposition to receive it, that is, in the verse, the wideness of heart, meaning for Solomon to be extremely wise before God granted him wisdom. He formed in him a big heart, wide to comprehend.

ויתן אלהים חכמה לשלמה ותבונה הרבה מאד ורחב לב

God gave Solomon science and great intelligence, and wideness of heart

(Melachim I – I Kings 5:9)

Solomon had a wide heart, whereas his belligerent father had it small and since he emulated the science of his son, he prayed to God, “my inclination brings me to the constant meditation of your holy Law; and since my organs, unlike my son’s organs, are not so adapted for that, because my heart is small and narrow, neither big nor capable, I pray to your divine Majesty, that in your disposition of the organs, I will execute their potential; if you make my heart wider and capable, I will do my best to meditate”:

דרך מצותיך ארוץ כי תרחיב לבי

I will run to pursue your commandments, so you widen my heart.

(Tehillim – Psalms 119:32)

Here we have explained this obscure phrase and we have shown the righteous and holy resolution of David. However, it remains to be seen, whether this resolution was accepted by God, and if it was meant to be executed in His holy throne. This can be easily determined by the axiom stating that a good thought is rewarded as if it was accomplished:

מחשבה טובה הקב״ה מצרפה למעשה

He links a good thought to the deed.

(Kiddushin 40a)

Since this axiom is very general and it was not corroborated by examples, it is necessary to mention one, so that the truth of this assertion may be alluded to with more precision.

As narrated in the Gemara, in the times of Rabbi Zera, an edict detrimental to Israel was published, it was explicitly ordered a prohibition of fasting or any act of contrition, against the penalty of the edict. The people went to Rabbi Zera to find a way to mitigate the anger of God. And he advised fasting, without fear of the tyrant, for when it is allowed, alluding to the example of the holy prophet Daniel, whom God comforted from the first fast-day by listening to him.
The precise words of the Gemara:

בימי רבי זירא גזור גזירה דלא למיתב בתעניתא אמר להו רבי זירא נקבליניה עילוון ולכי בטיל גזירה ליתביה אמרי ליה מנא לך הא אמר להו דכתיב (שם י) ויאמר אלי אל תירא דניאל כי מן היום הראשון נתת את לבך להבין ולהתענות לפני אלהיך נשמעו דבריך

In the days of R. Zera the government issued an edict. An edict was passed that no days of fasting should be observed. R. Zera then said to the people: “Let us take a fast-day upon ourselves now, until the government shall have rescinded its decree, we will then fast.” And they asked him: “How come that you infer this would be just as good?” “I know it,” answered he, “from the following passage. And he said unto me: Fear not, Daniel for since the first day that you set your heart to contemplate and to fast before your Lord, your words were heard.”

(Ein Yaakov, Taanit 1:34)

From said expression, we can infer that when lacking the resources to make a pious action, a reputed and determined resolution supplies it, before the divine tribunal, with the reputation of an accomplishment. So did David, by promising constant meditation of the holy Law when God granted him a suitable heart.
Similarly, the Angel assured Daniel, declaring that since the first day he was determined to fast, God had heard him, as if he had already accomplished his fast-days. Rabbi Zera thus advised his contemporaries:

נקבליניה עילוון ולכי בטיל גזירה ליתביה

Let us take a fast-day upon ourselves now, until the government shall have rescinded its decree

(Ein Yaakov, Taanit 1:34)

Here you have my poor loved ones, a solid reassurance to your yearning and a remarkable antidote to your distrust. Why do you flinch? From what? Why do you grieve? Because you see the wealthy assist the destitute with large donations? Because you see them clothe the naked or nurture the hungry? Or feed the orphans and help the widows?

Do not mind that, because you have the equivalent, not in your hands but in your spirit. Make the solemn pledge to God to do the same when your forces allow you so that it can be accepted by Him as something already accomplished. So did David:

דרך מצותיך ארוץ כי תרחיב לבי

I will run to pursue your commandments, so you widen my heart.

(Tehillim – Psalms 119:32)

ום הראשון אשר נתת את־לבך להבין ולהתענות לפני אלהיך נשמעו דבריך

The day that you set your heart to contemplate and to fast before your Lord, your words were heard.

(Daniel 10:12)

And so did finally the great Rabbi Zera:

נקבליניה עילוון ולכי בטיל גזירה ליתביה

Let us take a fast-day upon ourselves now, until the government shall have rescinded its decree

(Ein Yaakov, Taanit 1:34)

*From the Victories of Poverty by Rabbi David Nieto. London, 1709 (5469)  First translation from Judaeo-Spanish by Walter Hilliger,
© 2018 (5778)