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News Item 350. Mishlei 19-05 (Falsehood)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Monday, November 13.

(ה) עֵד שְׁקָרִים לֹא יִנָּקֶה וְיָפִיחַ כְּזָבִים לֹא יִמָּלֵט:
A false witness will not be exonerated, but neither will the deceptive talker escape.
This proverb compares the person who distorts the truth for personal advantage with the individual who gives false testimony in a court of law. It is obvious that the false witness ( עֵד שְׁקָרִים ) is committing a sinful act by perjuring himself. However, the individual who misleads his listener with deceptive statements ( יָפִיחַ כְּזָבִים ) hopes to whitewash his behavior after the fact. Mishlei blasts such wishful thinking. Just as the false witness will not be exonerated ( לֹא יִנָּקֶה ), so will the deceptive speaker be unable to escape ( לֹא יִמָּלֵט ) the consequences of his behavior. He will have to face Divine judgment and this excuses will not be accepted.

 

News Item 349. Mishlei 19-04 (Excesses)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Friday, November 3.

 הוֹן יֹסִיף רֵעִים רַבִּים וְדָל מֵרֵעֵהוּ יִפָּרֵד

Wealth brings many new friends, but a pauper becomes alienated [even] from his friend.
This proverb compares the effect of excessive wealth and excessive poverty. What effect does money have on personal friendship?
The well-known ability of the wealthy man to attract friends is described by the proverb in terms of his wealth ( הוֹן ), rather than any other personal quality. This implies that many of the “friends” are actually motivated by self-interest. They are drawn by the opportunity to benefit from the association with a rich person.
In contrast, the effect of extreme poverty in destroying an individual’s self-confidence is evident in his dwindling circle of friends. The proverb refers to the pauper as a poor man ( דָל ) who may have only one friend left ( רֵעֵהוּ ). Due to an over-emphasis on appearances, the pauper sees himself as the kind of person that others will not want to associate with and so he retreats into isolation, withdrawing from his one good friend.

News Item 348. Mishlei 19-03 (Blame)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Thursday, October 26.

 

 

ג) אִוֶּלֶת אָדָם תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ וְעַל ה‘ יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ)

A man's own foolishness corrupts his way, yet his heart rages against Hashem.
As we have seen, Mishlei repeatedly emphasizes the importance of actively using our minds, and doing whatever is right within the framework of the options that are available to us. Here Mishlei refers to the failure of using one’s mind as foolishness ( אִוֶּלֶת ). Such foolishness is disastrous to a person because it can have the effect of corrupting his way ( תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ ) through life. A person who consistently fails to think things through may be forced to face harsh consequences because man’s life is governed by a system of reward and punishment, laws of action and reaction. If a person allows his life to be dominated by foolish thinking, he will be inclined to resent what has happened to his life. His heart will then want to blame Hashem ( וְעַל ה‘ יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ ) for not making it easier for him. But it does a man no good to rage against Hashem, for the foolish person has only himself to blame.

News Item 347. Mishlei 19-02 (Thought)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Monday, October 16.

Also, for the soul to be without self-knowledge is not good, and he who speeds up his feet [without taking time to think] is a sinner.

This proverb identifies two practices which although not directly sinful in themselves are factors in creating an attitude that leads to sin. One is failing to take the time and effort to gain self-knowledge ( דַעַת ) by comparing one’s own behavior with the teachings of the Torah. The other is to rush through life ( אָץ בְּרַגְלַיִם ) without fully thinking through the implications of one’s actions.

News Item 346. Mishlei 19-01 (Innocence)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Thursday, September 28.

Better a poor man who goes [through life] in his innocence than [a person who] perverts his lips [with deceit], and he is a fool.

This proverb compares the person who goes through life in a blessed state of innocence with one who practices deceit and is therefore unable to avoid the feeling that he may be found out. The difference between guilt and innocence is so great that even if he is poverty-stricken ( רָשׁ ) he would do well to live at peace with himself by preserving his state of innocence.
In contrast, the person who uses deception and thereby perverts his lips ( עִקֵּשׁ שְׂפָתָיו ) to gain temporary advantage will have to live with his guilt. He will be paying a high price and is therefore a fool ( וְהוּא כְסִיל ) because his temporary benefit is not worth the pain of guilt.
WISHING ALL OUR READERS A GEMAR CHASIMAH TOVAH 

News Item 345. Shanah Tovah

LESHANAH TOVA UMESUKAH 5778

News Item 344. Mishlei 18-24

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Monday, September 18.

A man has friends to socialize with; but there is [to be found] a beloved friend [who is even] closer than a brother.

Human beings are naturally drawn to form friendships and so most people agree that

having friends is important to a person’s well-being.

However, people have very different ideas about the role of friendship in a person’s life. According to one view, the number of friends a person has is a measure of how well like he is. Being popular enhances a person’s self-esteem and ensures that he will not lack for companionship as he goes through life.
Unfortunately, this view overlooks the potential depth one can find in having a close friendship. A close friend spends enough time with a person to really get to know him. That knowledge enables the friend to provide the individual with a mirror into his character, giving him insight into his strengths and his weaknesses. This kind of knowledge is essential if the individual is grow as a human being.
So although a person may think he will be better off with an ever expanding circle of friends, he runs the risk of being left with only superficial relationships. He may end up not giving any one friend the opportunity to really get to know him. As a result he may face a hollow gap in his self-knowedge.

News Item 343. Mishlei 18-23 (Misconceptions)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Wednesday, September 13.

The poor man speaks with entreaties, and the rich man answers with

harshness.

Rich people and poor people alike are victims of the same fallacy. They overestimate

the importance of financial wealth. As a result, they forget that the value of a person

is not determined by how much money he has but by the human qualities that make

him unique as an individual.

Unfortunately, the misconceptions of both rich and poor tend to feed on each other. A poor person may see the wealthy person, not for who he is, but as someone who could very well help him with a loan or gift. The rich person in turn sees the poor person as a failure who has only himself to blame for his inadequacies and is therefore not really deserving of financial assistance.

 

News Item 342. Mishlei 18-22 (Good)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Wednesday, September 6.

He who has found a wife has found the good, and has brought forth good will

from Hashem.

Mishlei is using the term “find” to refer to the idea of marriage because the potential

for blessing was already there. It is up to man to take the necessary step to “find”

the woman with whom the blessing of “good” comes into being for them both.

This suggests an important difference between marriage and shopping. In shopping for an expensive product, the buyer defines exactly what he wants (size, color, etc.) and checks each item under consideration to make sure it meets all of his specifications.
That approach cannot work in bringing together two complex human beings, especially in the light of the fact every human being is in the process of contiuous improvement and development throughout his life.
Marriage can only work if the entire process of Creation is active in matching the man and woman. If the man and woman trust in Hashem and act on that trust by focusing on qualities of human goodness, He will introduce His blessing and the man will be guided by that blessing to “find” the woman that was meant for him.

 

News Item 341. Mishlei 18-21 (Talking)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Thursday, August 31.

Many people are fascinated by their power of speech. They always find something to say because of the pleasure it gives them to hear the sound of their own voice. When someone is speaking he assumes that a listener is paying attention to him. In effect, the talker has taken control of the listener’s mind and that is a heady feeling indeed.
However, because people are so strongly motivated to express themselves in talk, they may not ask themselves if what they are saying is worthwhile. Even worse, it may actually be destructive, such as if it hurts someone’s feelings or someone’s good name. On the other hand, talking can do wonderful things, including cheering up another person and teaching him Torah.

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