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 3]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 03-06 (Wisdom, the Key to Happiness)
By acquiring the wisdom of the Torah and observing its mitzvos man has been given the opportunity to live his life in harmony with the world that Hashem created. Although human life is fraught with uncertainty and danger, man is given the opportunity to live out his years with wisdom under Hashem’s protection. By trusting in Hashem man need have no fear of any threat or potential mishap. On the contrary, man can be confident that just as Hashem gave him life, Hashem will continue to do what is best for him in this world and the next. No matter what happens, man can be happy in serving his Creator.
PART 1. WISDOM IN FOCUS. Mishlei begins this segment by emphasizing the importance of not letting wisdom be displaced as the central focus of our lives. If we guard the mitzvos of the Torah and their profound meaning, we will continually be cheered by the life they give us.
(כא) בְּנִי אַל יָלֻזוּ מֵעֵינֶיךָ נְצֹר תֻּשִׁיָּה וּמְזִמָּה: (כב) וְיִהְיוּ חַיִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ וְחֵן לְגַרְגְּרֹתֶיךָ:
(21) My son, don’t let them [wisdom’s three components] be turned away from your eyes. Guard the Torah and [its] profound thoughts. (22) They will life to your soul and they will be a graceful [adornment] for your throat.
PART 2. THE WISDOM ROAD. Mishlei compares the challenges of life to the experience of traveling a long and dangerous road. If we trust our Guide and follow His instructions, He will see to it that we come to no harm. Even when we set up camp for the night and lay down to rest, our slumbers will protected and we will wake up refreshed.
(כג) אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ וְרַגְלְךָ לֹא תִגּוֹף: (כד) אִם תִּשְׁכַּב לֹא תִפְחָד וְשָׁכַבְתָּ וְעָרְבָה שְׁנָתֶךָ:
(23) Then you will walk securely on your way. You will not stub your foot. (24) when you lie down you will not be afraid. You will lie down and your sleep will be pleasant.
PART 3. SECURITY. We will see that living a life of security and trust in Hashem is a life of serenity in His service. Through the blessing of wisdom we are assured that our immortal soul will continue to reflect that life in the glorious World to Come.
(כה) אַל תִּירָא מִפַּחַד פִּתְאֹם וּמִשֹּׁאַת רְשָׁעִים כִּי תָבֹא: (כו) כִּי ה’ יִהְיֶה בְכִסְלֶךָ וְשָׁמַר רַגְלְךָ מִלָּכֶד:
(25) Don’t fear sudden terror or the devastation of the wicked when it comes. (26) For Hashem will be your Guarantor. He will keep your foot from being caught.
PART 1. WISDOM IN FOCUS.
(כא) בְּנִי אַל יָלֻזוּ מֵעֵינֶיךָ
My son — בְּנִי , we have seen that all of Creation is dependent on wisdom’s three components — chochmah, binah, and daas. Therefore, don’t let them be turned away — –אַל יָלֻזוּ from before your eyes — מֵעֵינֶיךָ , even when you are busy with your day-to-day concerns.
נְצֹר תֻּשִׁיָּה וּמְזִמָּה:
Stay alert and guard the mitzvos of the Torah — נְצֹר תֻּשִׁיָּה , which translate the wisdom of Creation into the deeds of men. And guard the profound thoughts — –וּמְזִמָּה that give them meaning. True devotion to Hashem has to be based on understanding.
(כב) וְיִהְיוּ חַיִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ
The components of wisdom will be life to your soul — –וְיִהְיוּ חַיִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ for wisdom is a tree of life. (See verse 18). Your soul can only truly live when it is allowed to use its spiritual power to operate with wisdom. Otherwise it is like a lifeless heart in a body that is mechanically breathing.
And they will be a graceful adornment for your throat — וְחֵן לְגַרְגְּרֹתֶיךָ . Your wisdom will enhance every word that you utter. (See Mishlei 1:9).
PART 2. THE WISDOM ROAD.
(כג) אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ
וְרַגְלְךָ לֹא תִגּוֹף:
Then you will walk securely — –אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח on your way — –דַּרְכֶּךָ through life and you will have no fear of death because death is nothing more than a portal to immortality. You will be secure in the knowledge that you will not stub your foot — –וְרַגְלְךָ לֹא תִגּוֹף on any unseen obstacle along the way. With Hashem’s help you will overcome any challenge blocking the road.
(כד) אִם תִּשְׁכַּב לֹא תִפְחָד
Even while traveling, when you lie down you will not be afraid — אִם תִּשְׁכַּב לֹא –תִפְחָד of bandits who come to steal your possessions. If your wisdom is your prize possession, you can be secure in the knowledge that it cannot be taken from you.
וְשָׁכַבְתָּ וְעָרְבָה שְׁנָתֶךָ:
Because of your trust in Hashem, you will lie down — –וְשָׁכַבְתָּ without reluctance or fear and your sleep will be pleasant — וְעָרְבָה שְׁנָתֶךָ , unencumbered by bad dreams.
PART 3. SECURITY.
(כה) אַל תִּירָא מִפַּחַד פִּתְאֹם
וּמִשֹּׁאַת רְשָׁעִים כִּי תָבֹא:
Do not fear a threat of sudden terror — אַל תִּירָא מִפַּחַד פִּתְאֹם . You should fear only Hashem and trust that He will protect you should the threat of tragedy becomes a reality. That means you should not fear the devastation of the wicked when it comes — וּמִשֹּׁאַת רְשָׁעִים כִּי תָבֹא , for you will escape their catastophe.
(כו) כִּי ה’ יִהְיֶה בְכִסְלֶךָ
וְשָׁמַר רַגְלְךָ מִלָּכֶד:
For Hashem will be your Guarantor — כִּי ה’ יִהְיֶה בְכִסְלֶךָ against any danger. If you are faithful to Him, He will keep your foot from being caught — וְשָׁמַר רַגְלְךָ מִלָּכֶד in the trap of sin as you continue to walk the road of life.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
כא – רש”י, רבינו יונה, המאירי, אבן יחייא,מלבי”ם, כד הקמח, רשר”ה
כב – רש”י, רבינו יונה, אבן יחייא, מלבי”ם
כג – המאירי, אבן יחייא
כד – רש”י, רבינו יונה, רלב”ג, חנוך לנער
כה – רש”י, רבינו יונה, אבן יחייא, הגר”א, מלבי”ם
כו – רש”י, מלבי”ם