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 2]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 02-01 (The Price of Wisdom)
Mishlei now speaks to the reader as a loving Rebbi who encourages his talmid (student) to make the sacrifices necessary to acquire the wisdom of the Torah. He has already suggested that there is a great reward for doing so. (See segment 01-04.) But before elaborating on the infinite benefits of wisdom, Mishlei wants his talmid to realize what he will be getting into.
The four verses of this segment present five requirement of what will be becessary for the talmid to acquire wisdom.
1. To acquire wisdom a person must listen carefully to the Torah that his teacher passes on to him. That means not adding to or subtracting from it.
2. He must faithfully review the material and internalize it by developing fresh insights and fitting them into the whole.
3. He must be overwhelmed with a great sense of humility and plead to Hashem for help in facing the great challenge.
4. He must address the challenge with a level of commitment comparable to what people feel when they travel far and wide to earn their livelihood.
5. He must also bring to his effort a level of joyful excitement comparable to that which a person feels when he is hunting for buried treasure.
(א) בְּנִי אִם תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ: (ב) לְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה אָזְנֶךָ תַּטֶּה לִבְּךָ לַתְּבוּנָה: (ג) כִּי אִם לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא לַתְּבוּנָה תִּתֵּן קוֹלֶךָ: (ד) אִם תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה כַכָּסֶף וְכַמַּטְמוֹנִים תַּחְפְּשֶׂנָּה:
(1) My son, [you will gain the rewards of wisdom] if you take my words [to heart] and keep my instructions with you, (2) 1. to make your ear listen carefully to wisdom, 2. to incline your heart to understanding, (3) 3. but only if you call for the insight, raise your voice for the understanding, (4) [and only] 4. if you seek it like money, 5. and you search for it as you search for buried treasure.
(א) בְּנִי אִם תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי
וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ:
My son — בְּנִי , I know that it will not be not easy for you to devote yourself to the great challenge of acquiring wisdom. But if you take my words — אִם תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי of advice to heart and keep my instructions with you — וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ at all times, your reward will be very great.
(ב) לְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה אָזְנֶךָ
(1) To achieve this goal you will need to focus on what I will be saying and make your ear listen carefully to the wisdom — לְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה אָזְנֶךָ that I will be passing on to you.
תַּטֶּה לִבְּךָ לַתְּבוּנָה:
(2) But listening is not enough. You will need to internalize what you have heard by reviewing it and thinking it through. That means you will need to incline your heart to understanding — תַּטֶּה לִבְּךָ לַתְּבוּנָה . If you do this you will gain new insight and add to the wisdom you have absorbed from listening to me. In this way your appreciation for learning will be heartfelt and the wisdom will become part of you.
(ג) כִּי אִם לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא
לַתְּבוּנָה תִּתֵּן קוֹלֶךָ:
(3) Furthermore, you can gain true wisdom only if you feel a great sense of humilty. You will succeed only if you reach out and call for the insight — כִּי אִם לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא to come to you in the way that you might call upon a very dear friend. You will then feel that you want to loudly raise your voice in sincere tefillah to Hashem, asking Him for the broad understanding — לַתְּבוּנָה תִּתֵּן קוֹלֶךָ that will show how your new insights fit into the larger picture.
(ד) אִם תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה כַכָּסֶף
(4) You will gain wisdom only if you seek it — אִם תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה with total dedication as you do when you travel far and wide to seek money — כַכָּסֶף .
(5) Finally, you will succeed only if you search for it with intense excitement and pleasure as you do when you search for buried treasure — וְכַמַּטְמוֹנִים תַּחְפְּשֶׂנָּה .
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
ב’ א’ – רבינו יונה, המאירי
ב’ ב’ – רבינו יונה, המאירי, אבן יחייא, הגר”א
ב’ ג’ – רבינו יונה, המאירי, רלב”ג, מלבי”ם
ב’ ד’ – רבינו יונה, הגר”א, מלבי”ם