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Mishlei 14-16 (Forbearance I)

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 14-16 (Forbearance I)
It is not easy to remain calm in a difficult situation. However, a person with sufficient forbearance doesn’t let himself be provoked into anger, no matter how frustrated he is by someone elses’s behavior.
It takes a wise person indeed to realize how much harm can be done through unrestrained anger and how easy it is feel the frustration that can trigger resentment.
Once a person learns the dangers that come from the bitterness of a hot temper, he maintains a powerful fear of being drawn into such a frame of mind. Besides anger being very sinful in itself, it moves a person to say and do things that are hurtful to everyone around him. Strife and conflict are the result. It takes a wise man to understand all this and to act accordingly.
Unfortunately, a foolish man, even if he is intelligent, will be complacent about the need to practice forbearance. He will let himself get excited by some provocation and he will convince himself that he can get away with it.
Exploring Mishlei
(טז) חָכָם יָרֵא וְסָר מֵרָע וּכְסִיל מִתְעַבֵּר וּבוֹטֵחַ:
A wise man is fearful and avoids evil, but a foolish man becomes angry and is confident.
This proverb calls attention to the wise man’s fear of falling prey to the evil of unrestrained anger. This fear is with him at all times and enables his forbearance despite provocation. It is contrasted with the attitude of the foolish man who blithely assumes he can safely enjoy the release that he gets from experiencing anger.
But what do you do when faced with verbal abuse by an angry person? This is addressed by the proverb in Segment 15-01 (Forbearance II). Another proverb dealing with this subject is in Segment 14-29.
Learning Mishlei
(טז) חָכָם יָרֵא וְסָר מֵרָע 
וּכְסִיל מִתְעַבֵּר וּבוֹטֵחַ:
A wise man is fearful  חָכָם יָרֵא of the consequences and avoids  וְסָר expressions of anger that he knows to be evil  מֵרָע , but a foolish man becomes angry when provoked  וּכְסִיל מִתְעַבֵּר and is sure  וּבוֹטֵחַ that he will escape any consequences.
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) A person’s natural instincts draw him away from morality. Therefore he needs the fear of Hashem as a framework to prevent from acting against his Creator’s will.
(2) The wise man knows that even if he is free of bad middos, he must continually be on guard because there may come time when a special sensitivity or concern is provoked and he will unable to resist acting on it.
(3) The wiser a person is, the greater will be his fear of sin, for the greater is he aware of the pifalls in ordinary behavior that lead to sin. He therefore uses the power of his wisdom to develop ways of resisting temptation.
(4) The wise man avoids evil with all his power but continues to be afraid that he will accidentally stray and fall short of his duty. In contrast, the fool does not avoid evil, but continues to trust that nothing bad will happen to him.
(5) The wise man avoids mocking or belittling any person, even one who seems powerless, because there is no individual who does not have his hour. Perhaps that individual will find this moment to take his revenge. The fool allows himself the luxury of being angry with his fellow, thinking that his victim will never be able to stand up to him.
Sources
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) - מלבי"ם
(2) - אור יחזקאל
(3) - מליץ יושר
(4) - רבינו יונה
(5) - הגר"א, רלב"ג