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Mishlei 12-21 (Precedents)

 
NOTE: For a PDF copy of this segment, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 0]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 12-21 (Precedents)
A righteous person (tzadik) makes a conscientious effort to do the right thing in every situation. As a result, he influences his surroundings (his home, family, and friends) and thereby builds a support system which protects him from inadvertently committing a sin in the future. This adds to the reward that Hashem gives him for his righteousness. Because the tzadik has shown how much he fears sin, Hashem rewards him by helping him avoid it.
Furthermore, the tzadik is motivated to continually grow in his personal development and in his ability to do the will of his Creator. Thus, each action beco,mes a precedent that promotes further growth.
In contrast the wicked (resha’im) degrade their environment and they get the opposite effect. Furthermore, each time a sin is committed, the psychological resistance to committing sin becomes weaker. The person says to himself, “I did this before and had no problem, so why not do it again?”
Exploring Mishlei
(כא) לֹא־יְאֻנֶּה לַצַּדִּיק כָּל־אָוֶן וּרְשָׁעִים מָלְאוּ רָע:
No sin will happen to the tzadik but the resha’im will be filled with evil.
The proverb compares the events of the tzadik’s life with those of the resha’im. Through his mitzvos the tzadik has created factors that help him avoid sin. The resha’im have created a downward spiral in which events seem to conspire against them, leading to a bitter end. This is all their own doing and they are too ready to go with the flow.
Learning Mishlei
(כא) לֹא יְאֻנֶּה לַצַּדִּיק כָּל אָוֶן
וּרְשָׁעִים מָלְאוּ רָע:
No cause of sin will happen to the tzadik  לֹא־יְאֻנֶּה לַצַּדִּיק כָּל־אָוֶן  and so he will be protected from inadvertent sin. This is effectively a reward for always avoiding sin. But the sins of the resha’im continually lead to other sins until they become filled with evil  וּרְשָׁעִים מָלְאוּ רָע .
Additional Insights
A series of insights illuminating this proverb are presented below. The numbers identifying the insights refer to the listing of sources at the end of the segment.
(1) Every person is vulnerable to events caused by his surroundings. These may include sinful thoughts as well as sinful deeds that were committed without knowledge. In reward for his righteousness, Hashem protects the tzadik from all these factors.
(2) Each sin committed by a rasha becomes a causative factor which moves him to commit another sin.
(3) The tzadik is less likely to sin because he has no precedent for it and he instinctively avoids uncharted territory.
Sources
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) - הגר"א
(2) - מלבים
(3) - מלבים