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Mishlei 02-01 (The Price of Wisdom)

Mishlei 02-01

The Price of Wisdom

[Pesukim 2:1 thru 2:4]

Key Concepts

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 01-07.) But before elaborating on the infinite benefits of wisdom, Mishlei wants his talmid to realize what he will be getting into.

Exploring Mishlei

The four pesukim of this segment (2:1 through 2:4) present five requirement of what will be necessary 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

 2:1. My son, you will gain the rewards of wisdom if you take my words to heart and keep my instructions with you,

1- to make your ear listen carefully to wisdom,

2- to incline your heart to understanding,

2:3. but only
3- if you call for the insight, raise your voice for the understanding,

2:4. and only
4- if you seek it like money,
5- and you search for it as you search for buried treasure.

Learning Mishlei

א = בְּנִי אִם תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי  וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ

My son בְּנִי,
I know that it will not be easy for you to devote yourself to the great challenge of acquiring wisdom.
But if you take my words of advice to heart — אִם תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי
and keep my instructions with youוּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ
at all times, your reward will be very great.

ב = לְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה אָזְנֶךָ

1- To listen carefully to the wisdomלְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה
with your earאָזְנֶךָ.

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 must incline your heart to understandingתַּטֶּה 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 must feel a great sense of humility.
You will succeed only if you 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 understandingלַתְּבוּנָה 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.

וְכַמַּטְמוֹנִים תַּחְפְּשֶׂנָּה

(5) Finally, you will succeed only if you search for it with intense excitement and pleasure as you do when you search for buried treasureוְכַמַּטְמוֹנִים תַּחְפְּשֶׂנָּה.

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