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News Item 328. Mishlei 18-10 (Strength)


A new segment 18-10 was added to the Mishlei section on Wednesday June 28. This contains two proverbs covering aspects of the concept of strength.

Why do we need strength? We turn to Hashem to grant us the strength to withstand threats to our safety and well-being. These threats include sickness, poverty, and people who seek to do us harm. We also need strength to overcome our internal weaknesses, such as jealousy and irrational hate.

Mishlei symbolizes strength as a tower, referred to as מִגְדַּל עֹז , a tower of strength. The tower is a metaphor for strength because we can readily visualize climbing a sturdy tower from which we can defend ourselves in times of danger. From the top of the tower we have a commanding view of the enemy, who finds it more difficult to strike us with his weapons. In military terms, the tower is a position of strength.
Another metaphor for strength is a walled city. The high fortified walls serve the same purpose as a tower and offer more space to shelter the people of a community and their possessions.
To whom do we turn to for strength? The righteous man calls upon the Name of Hashem for protection. The wealthy man looks to his accumulated wealth to insulate him from unexpected expenses and changing economic conditions. But how much of a cushion is enough? Is it ever enough?

News Item 327. Mizmor 119-041 (Zayin) - Time

A new pasuk has been added to the Zayin segment of Mizmor 119 as of Wednesday June 21. 

(119:53) Shuddering seized me because of the wicked who forsake Your Torah.

In reviewing his life and the life of the Jewish people David found himself torn between hope and fear. In the previous pasuk he expressed his relief and comfort found in the optimistic lessons of past history. But then he was shaken by the realization that he must avoid complacency. He looked around him and saw the many wicked people who started out in the purity of commitment to Torah but who had fallen along the way. They had succumbed to the challenges and temptations of life. In doing so, their example offered a warning that David himself needed to be always vigilant. As long as a person lives, he must be alert for the dangers and tragedies that can appear at any time.

News Item 326. Newsletter

Some subscribers to the NAFSHI weekly newsletter have asked about the fact that recent issueswere not sent out. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we hope to resume publication as soon as certain technical matters are resolved. In the meantime we expect to continue notifying you of NAFSHI updates through the News tab.

Yitzchok Kirzner (Yitzchok @

News Item 325. Mishlei 18-09 (Energy)

A new proverb was added to the Mishlei section on Monday June 19.
Acquiring the wisdom of the Torah is a very demanding activity. Despite the fact that we think of the Torah as a parchment scroll on which its words are written, the essence of Torah is the knowledge that exists in the mind of each Jew who keeps the Torah. This knowledge is far more voluminous and complex than can possibly be contained in the words on a scroll. It is referred to as the Oral Torah because it is meant to be studied and taught through the power of speech.
Tremendous vitality and energy are required to fuel the process of acquiring and preserving the knowledge of the Oral Torah throughout a person’s lifetime. This means that one cannot be relaxed about one’s approach to Torah learning. A person whose attitude in life is shaped by general lassitude will fail to measure up.
What about a person who is not ready to approach Torah energetically. Is that so bad? Mishlei argues that the failure to build some degree of Torah knowledge is tantamount to destroying it, for Torah cannot exist in the mind without energy and commitment.

News Item 324. Mishlei 18-08 (Resentment)

A new proverb on the attitude of Resentment was posted to the Mishlei Section on Tuesday, June 13.
People who suffer from an attitude of resentment are continually overwhelmed by disappointment. They view themselves as victims who have been treated unfairly. Instead of appreciating the good things of life they focus on what they are missing. Instead of feeling gratitude for the benefits they have been granted they are embittered at being denied what they don’t have.
The resentment that such people feel leads them to blame others, especially those who are close to them. They are inclined to take revenge upon the perceived source of their misery and they do this by hurtful remarks and malicious gossip (lashon hara). They may also act as instigators to encourage others to join them in their attitude of resentment.

News Item 323. Mizmor 119-049 (Zayin) - Time

A new pasuk has been added to the presentation of the Zayin segment of Mizmor 119 as of Wednesday June 7. The new pasuk is 119:052, which is the fourth pasuk in the Zayin segment. This addition deals with learning a lesson from the experience of past history.

Previously (Zayin 2) David spoke of finding comfort in times of suffering. He drew strength from the knowledge that the fulfillment of Hashem’s promise is just a matter of time. Now he turns to the morale uplift to be found in the experience of past history. The story of mankind may be viewed as a sequence of periods in which human behavior has angered or pleased Hashem. In each case man was brought before the Divine Court of Judgment. At such a time there is encouragement in the knowledge that Hashem has always shown that He tempers justice with mercy. Periods of harsh judgment were tempered by mercy and were ultimately followed by periods of blessing and good fortune.

So in times of suffering David remembers the lessons of the judgments of old ( מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ מֵעוֹלָם ). David refers to Hashem by His attribute of Mercy ( ה‘ ) because even in the most difficult periods, the love of Hashem has always been present and the promise of future Redemption has always been there.

News Item 322. Mishlei 18-06 (Belligerence)

A new segment was posted to the Mishlei section on Monday, June 6. This segment actually covers two proverbs, 18:06 and 18:07.

There are people who enter any verbal exchange in an argumentative or confrontational tone. They think their aggressive attitude protects them from being taken advantage of. Such people are especially afraid of being considered soft or weak. They use their mastery of language to put other people at a disadvantage and they think they will thereby succeed in any test of wills.

Inevitably the aggressive individuals invite defensive or reactive attitudes on the part of the people they talk to. As a result, quarrels ensue which result in painful confrontations with everone involved losing out.
The individuals that instigate quarrels are referred to as fools because instead of gaining advantage from their aggressiveness, they end up suffering physical or emotional injury.

News Item 321. Mizmor 119-049 (Zayin) - Time

A new pasuk has been added to the Zayin segment of Mizmor 119 as of Monday, May 29. Here David explores the quality that enables a person to survive psychological torment. 


News Item 320. Mishlei 18-05 (Favoritism)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Sunday, May 28.
It teaches that a person who is in a position of power, whether it be a judge, employer, parent, or teacher should be careful about allowing his natural instinct to make unconscious judgments about others. Before he has had a chance to make a considered evaluation he may be inclined to favor some people and disfavor others.
The tendency to show favoritism may be so subtle that he doesn’t even realize it. He may fool himself into believing that he is justifiably rewarding good behavior and discouraging bad behavior by means of his body language, his smile, and his choice of words.
However, those who look to his favor will be watching him very carefully for any sign of prejudice, whether it is justified or not. If he is not careful he will be achieving an effect that is the opposite of what he was hoping for.
Anyone in a position of authority is advised to cultivate a carefully managed neutral attitude so that those dependent upon his fairness will feel that justice is being done and their honest efforts to earn his goodwill have been rewarded.

News Item 319. Mishlei 18-04 (Words)

A new proverb was posted on Wednesday May 24.
People often underestimate the significance of the words spoken by a wise man. Mishlei encourages the listener to think carefully into the implications of what this man has said. There may great depth to his words of wisdom and the listener should pay special attention to the important lessons that may lie below the surface. Even the choice of words used by the wise man deserve study.
The listener should be aware that the man of wisdom is able to draw upon an unending stream of Torah knowledge and everything he says reflects what he has absorbed and thought about over the years.