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 01-04 (Negative Influences)
My son, don’t be surprised if someone approaches you with a shady get-rich scheme that seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until it is too late that it is too good to be true and you will pay a high price for the lesson.
You may very well be tempted because the person seems trustworthy and he assures you of his friendship. It may give you a good feeling to be part of such a “successful” venture, but the end can be tragedy.
My advice is to stay away from suspicious schemes and from the kinds of people who promote them. In the end they will fail. Don’t let them drag you down with them.
PART 1. AN INVITATION TO TROUBLE. When you hear of a dishonest scheme I suggest you visualize it as an invitation to join a band of highwaymen, who claim they can get rich by robbing rich wayfarers. The story they give you makes your eyes light up and you are tempted to overlook the terrible wrong they are doing and the risks they are taking.
(י) בְּנִי אִם יְפַתּוּךָ חַטָּאִים אַל תֹּבֵא: (יא) אִם יֹאמְרוּ לְכָה אִתָּנוּ נֶאֶרְבָה לְדָם נִצְפְּנָה לְנָקִי חִנָּם: (יב) נִבְלָעֵם כִּשְׁאוֹל חַיִּים וּתְמִימִים כְּיוֹרְדֵי בוֹר: (יג) כָּל הוֹן יָקָר נִמְצָא נְמַלֵּא בָתֵּינוּ שָׁלָל: (יד) גּוֹרָלְךָ תַּפִּיל בְּתוֹכֵנוּ כִּיס אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לְכֻלָּנוּ:
(10) My son, if sinners entice you, don’t go along. (11) If they say, “Come with us. We’ll set up an ambush to [spill] blood. We’ll hide to [catch the] innocent, free [of complications] . (12) We’ll swallow them alive like the grave. [We’ll swallow them] whole like those who descend into the pit. (13) All [kinds of] valuables are to be found. We’ll fill our houses with plunder. (14) Cast in your lot among us. We will share in one purse.”
PART 2. GOOD ADVICE. Turn down the invitation, no matter how tempting it sounds. You are like a bird who sees tasty seeds laid out in a hunter’s trap. The bird fools itself into thinking that the seeds just happen to be there and there will be no price to pay. But the bird will inevitably get caught and likewise, the robbers are likely to add their new “friend” to their list of victims.
(טו) בְּנִי אַל תֵּלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ אִתָּם מְנַע רַגְלְךָ מִנְּתִיבָתָם: (טז) כִּי רַגְלֵיהֶם לָרַע יָרוּצוּ וִימַהֲרוּ לִשְׁפָּךְ דָּם: (יז) כִּי חִנָּם מְזֹרָה הָרָשֶׁת בְּעֵינֵי כָּל בַּעַל כָּנָף: (יח) וְהֵם לְדָמָם יֶאֱרֹבוּ יִצְפְּנוּ לְנַפְשֹׁתָם: (יט) כֵּן אָרְחוֹת כָּל בֹּצֵעַ בָּצַע אֶת נֶפֶשׁ בְּעָלָיו יִקָּח:
(15) My son, don’t go with them on [their] way. Keep your feet away from their paths. (16) For their feet are running to evil and they are rushing to spill blood. (17) For the [trapper’s] net is spread out for no purpose in the eyes of every winged creature. (18) They are waiting in ambush for their [victims’] blood and they are hiding themselves [to take] their [victims’] lives. (19) Such are the ways of all who make unjust profit. They take the lives of its owners, [including yours].
PART 1. AN INVITATION TO TROUBLE.
(י) בְּנִי אִם יְפַתּוּךָ חַטָּאִים
My son — בְּנִי , if sinners entice you — אִם יְפַתּוּךָ חַטָּאִים to join their group, don’t go along — אַל תֹּבֵא with them because what they have in mind will end up disastrously for you.
(יא) אִם יֹאמְרוּ לְכָה אִתָּנוּ
נֶאֶרְבָה לְדָם נִצְפְּנָה לְנָקִי חִנָּם:
If they say — אִם יֹאמְרוּ : “Come with us — לְכָה אִתָּנוּ and get rich. You won’t have to do anything bad yourself. We know of a rich man carrying large amounts of cash and diamonds on his person. We’ll set up an ambush — נֶאֶרְבָה and grab it all even if we have to spill some blood — לְדָם . But don’t worry because we’ll hide — נִצְפְּנָה in a good spot to catch that innocent — לְנָקִי fool and we will be free — חִנָּם of any complications.”
(יב) נִבְלָעֵם כִּשְׁאוֹל חַיִּים
וּתְמִימִים כְּיוֹרְדֵי בוֹר:
“Stick with us and we’ll catch many more unsuspecting fools on the road and in their homes. We’ll have the advantage of surprise so it will be as if we swallow them alive — נִבְלָעֵם חַיִּים , like the grave — כִּשְׁאוֹל that swallows bodies. Everything they have will be ours. And so we will swallow them whole — וּתְמִימִים without effort as if they were innocently walking and fell down into an open pit — כְּיוֹרְדֵי בוֹר .”
(יג) כָּל הוֹן יָקָר נִמְצָא
נְמַלֵּא בָתֵּינוּ שָׁלָל:
“All kinds of precious wealth — כָּל הוֹן יָקָר are there to be found — נִמְצָא . We will fill our houses with loot — נְמַלֵּא בָתֵּינוּ שָׁלָל .”
(יד) גּוֹרָלְךָ תַּפִּיל בְּתוֹכֵנוּ
כִּיס אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לְכֻלָּנוּ:
“Cast in your lot among us — גּוֹרָלְךָ תַּפִּיל בְּתוֹכֵנוּ and you will get your fair share of the the loot to take home with you. But in addition, we will have one purse — כִּיס אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לְכֻלָּנוּ with a common fund so that we can celebrate together. You will be part of our great team and you will reap the rewards with us.”
PART 2. GOOD ADVICE.
(טו) בְּנִי אַל תֵּלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ אִתָּם
My son — בְּנִי , don’t go with them on their crooked way — אַל תֵּלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ אִתָּם . Even if you don’t join them in their ambush, sooner or later another opportunity will arise and they will tempt you to get involved. Your defenses will be lowered and what they are doing will come to seem normal to you.
מְנַע רַגְלְךָ מִנְּתִיבָתָם:
You should even keep your feet away from their paths — מְנַע רַגְלְךָ מִנְּתִיבָתָם so you won’t encounter them by chance and get drawn in.
(טז) כִּי רַגְלֵיהֶם לָרַע יָרוּצוּ
וִימַהֲרוּ לִשְׁפָּךְ דָּם:
For their feet are running to do evil — כִּי רַגְלֵיהֶם לָרַע יָרוּצוּ and they are rushing to spill blood — וִימַהֲרוּ לִשְׁפָּךְ דָּם . These people are driven by greed and the excitement of violence. And so they take chances, not stopping to calculate the risk of being caught. They may find success at first, but in the end they will fail.
(יז) כִּי חִנָּם מְזֹרָה הָרָשֶׁת
בְּעֵינֵי כָּל בַּעַל כָּנָף:
Don’t think you will come out of this unharmed. That’s what the foolish bird thinks when it when it ventures into the hunter’s net to eat the tasty seeds he has placed there. For the net seems spread out for no purpose — כִּי חִנָּם מְזֹרָה הָרָשֶׁת in the eyes of every winged creature — בְּעֵינֵי כָּל בַּעַל כָּנָף . The birds are focused on the seeds and pay no attention to the net that will close in on them.
(יח) וְהֵם לְדָמָם יֶאֱרֹבוּ
My son, your new friends act as though they have your interest at heart but that’s what the birds think when they see the hunter spreading the bait. They think he is giving them food out of the kindness of his heart. In the end you yourself will be a victim because the robbers will never be satisfied. Like the hunter they are waiting in ambush — וְהֵם לְדָמָם יֶאֱרֹבוּ for their victims’ blood and they are hiding themselves to take their victims’ lives — יִצְפְּנוּ לְנַפְשֹׁתָם . Once they draw you into their net you will be their next victim.
(יט) כֵּן אָרְחוֹת כָּל בֹּצֵעַ בָּצַע
אֶת נֶפֶשׁ בְּעָלָיו יִקָּח:
Such are the ways of all who make unjust profit — כֵּן אָרְחוֹת כָּל בֹּצֵעַ בָּצַע from property that isn’t theirs. They don’t stop until they take the lives of its owners — אֶת נֶפֶשׁ בְּעָלָיו יִקָּח . In the end they will take your possessions, and your life will be forfeit as well.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
א’ י’ – מדרש משלי, מלבי”ם, הגר”א
א’ יא – המאירי, מלבי”ם, הגר”א
א’ יב – רבינו יונה, מצודות, הגר”א
א’ יג – מצודות
א’ יד – מצודות, המאירי, מלבי”ם
א’ טו – רבינו יונה, מצודות, המאירי, הגר”א
א’ טז – רש”י, המאירי
א’ יז – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רבינו יונה, הגר”א
א’ יח – רש”י, המאירי
א’ יט – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם