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Key Concepts of Mishlei 05-01 (Wisdom in Depth)
Mishlei now begins a discussion of how a well-meaning person can be misled into corrupted morality and false doctrines. The powerful attractions of sinful behavior lie in the unconscious desire to satisfy physical and emotional needs. But ultimately it is the rational mind where the choice is made.
The only true protection against seductive pull of sin is the wisdom of the Torah. But if the wisdom that a person acquires is only superficial or if it is quickly forgotten, it will be a very weak protection against the challenges that he encounters in life.
In this first segment of Perek 5 Mishlei instructs us to gain wisdom in depth. It is not enough to have learned. The learning must be clear enough to be articulated and remembered. It is not even enough to know the final conclusions; the person needs to have insight into the considerations and arguments which support it.
(א) בְּנִי לְחָכְמָתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה לִתְבוּנָתִי הַט אָזְנֶךָ: (ב) לִשְׁמֹר מְזִמּוֹת וְדַעַת שְׂפָתֶיךָ יִנְצֹרוּ:
(1) My son, be attentive to my wisdom. Incline your ear to my understanding. (2) [Learn] to retain the [underlying] considerations and let your lips keep the knowledge.
Learning the Mizmor
(א) בְּנִי לְחָכְמָתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה
My son — בְּנִי , be attentive to my wisdom — לְחָכְמָתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה , for it is the wisdom of the Torah. When you learn Torah, give it your full attention. And when the subject matter is presented in the form an allegory (mashal), take the allegory itself to heart because there is much to learn from the simple meaning. But that is not enough.
לִתְבוּנָתִי הַט אָזְנֶךָ:
Incline your ear — –הַט אָזְנֶךָ and listen carefully to my understanding — לִתְבוּנָתִי . After learning Torah from your teacher don’t turn aside to other things before you reinforce what you have learned. You will quickly forget it. Put in extra effort and listen carefully to the Torah with your mind so that its concepts become clear to you. When the Torah is presented in the form an allegory, think carefully about the implied meaning and the additional lessons you can learn.
(ב) לִשְׁמֹר מְזִמּוֹת
וְדַעַת שְׂפָתֶיךָ יִנְצֹרוּ:
As you learn, don’t just focus on the conclusions. Learn to retain the underlying considerations — –לִשְׁמֹר מְזִמּוֹת on which the conclusions are based. And let your lips keep the knowledge — –וְדַעַת שְׂפָתֶיךָ יִנְצֹרוּ by studying until it becomes so clear that you can express it in spoken words and sentences.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
א – מדרש משלי, הגר”א, שבט מיהודה
ב – מדרש משלי, חנוך לנער, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה