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 03-08 (Wisdom and Personal Destiny)
Wisdom guides us in making the right choices in life. Mishlei teaches that foolish people make the wrong choices when they ignore the wisdom that is accessible to them. These people prefer to disregard the full consequences of their decisions because of wishful thinking. They only take into account the consequences that appeal to them. Therefore Mishlei advises us to avoid being led into taking such people as role models because of their temporary prosperity.
In this segment Mishlei shows how the choices that a person makes can have a major impact on his personal destiny and that of his family. Bad things that happen in a person’s life are a direct result of ignoring consequences:
PART 1. MEN OF VIOLENCE. People may be impressed by the visible prosperity of an unethical or violent individual but they ignore the long-term consequences of his behavior. Mishlei reminds us that the wrongdoer is a cursed abomination in the eyes of his Creator whereas the righteous man is blessed.
(לא) אַל תְּקַנֵּא בְּאִישׁ חָמָס וְאַל תִּבְחַר בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו: (לב) כִּי תוֹעֲבַת ה’ נָלוֹז וְאֶת יְשָׁרִים סוֹדוֹ: (לג) מְאֵרַת ה’ בְּבֵית רָשָׁע וּנְוֵה צַדִּיקִים יְבָרֵךְ:
(31) Don’t envy a man of violence. Don’t choose any of his ways, (32) for one who deviates is an abomination to Hashem. [Hashem’s] closeness is with the upright. (33) Hashem’s curse is upon the house of the wrongdoer. He blesses the abode of the righteous.
PART 2. SCOFFERS. People may be impressed by the quick wit of the scoffer who undermines respect for talmidei chachamim, but they ignore the corrupting effect of such a person on their own character.
(לד) אִם לַלֵּצִים הוּא יָלִיץ וְלַעֲנָוִים יִתֶּן חֵן:
(34) If [one is drawn] to the scoffers, he will become a scoffer, but if [he is drawn] to the humble, he will find favor.
PART 3. FOOLS. Fools who ignore wisdom because its consequences cramp their behavior will end up being exposed to disgrace, whereas wise men will earn the respect of all who come into contact with them.
(לה) כָּבוֹד חֲכָמִים יִנְחָלוּ וּכְסִילִים מֵרִים קָלוֹן:
(35) The wise will inherit honor, and fools elevate disgrace.
PART 1. MEN OF VIOLENCE.
(לא) אַל תְּקַנֵּא בְּאִישׁ חָמָס
וְאַל תִּבְחַר בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו:
Don’t envy — –אַל תְּקַנֵּא the prosperity of a man of violence — בְּאִישׁ חָמָס , whether it be the criminal who commits violence against others or the unethical person who commits violence against his own soul. In either case, don’t follow his practices, thinking that they are the secret of his success. Don’t choose any of his ways — וְאַל תִּבְחַר בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו , even the ones that seem good to you and even if the choice is only in your thoughts.
(לב) כִּי תוֹעֲבַת ה’ נָלוֹז
וְאֶת יְשָׁרִים סוֹדוֹ:
For one who deviates from the path of integrity is an abomination to Hashem — כִּי תוֹעֲבַת ה’ נָלוֹז . He distances himself from Hashem’s way and so Hashem distances Himself from him. In contrast, Hashem’s closeness is with the upright — וְאֶת יְשָׁרִים סוֹדוֹ .
(לג) מְאֵרַת ה’ בְּבֵית רָשָׁע
Don’t be misled; even when a wrongdoer flourishes, his success is only temporary for Hashem’s curse is upon the house of the wrongdoer — מְאֵרַת ה’ בְּבֵית רָשָׁע , no matter how great is his mansion. And when his end comes it will be sudden. Therefore, it is wise to distance yourself from him.
וּנְוֵה צַדִּיקִים יְבָרֵךְ:
On the contrary, Hashem blesses the humble abode of the righteous — וּנְוֵה צַדִּיקִים יְבָרֵךְ , even if it not a great house like that of the wrongdoer.
PART 2. SCOFFERS.
(לד) אִם לַלֵּצִים הוּא יָלִיץ
וְלַעֲנָוִים יִתֶּן חֵן:
If one is drawn to the scoffers — אִם לַלֵּצִים , he will become a scoffer — הוּא –יָלִיץ like them and end up being scoffed at himself, but if one is drawn to the humble — וְלַעֲנָוִים , he will be humble like them and the result is that he will find favor — –יִתֶּן חֵן in the eyes of men. A scoffer puts down others and his punishment will be that he himself is disgraced; a humble person puts every else above him and his reward will be that everyone will hold him in high esteem.
PART 3. FOOLS.
(לה) כָּבוֹד חֲכָמִים יִנְחָלוּ
וּכְסִילִים מֵרִים קָלוֹן:
The wise, who appreciate and practice wisdom, will inherit honor — כָּבוֹד חֲכָמִים יִנְחָלוּ . Honor will come naturally to them and will belong to them for the world will come to recognize their choices in life as the right ones. And fools, who spurn wisdom, elevate disgrace — וּכְסִילִים מֵרִים קָלוֹן , because they unthinkingly follow their instincts, and the result is that they will lose the respect of mankind.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
לא – המאירי, אבן יחייא, הגר”א, מלבי”ם
לב – המאירי
לג – המאירי, אבן יחייא, חנוך לנער
לד – רש”י, רלב”ג, מצודות, הגר”א
לה – חנוך לנער