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Key Concepts of Mishlei 07-01 (Bonding with Wisdom)
In contrast to the dangers symbolized by the “strange woman,” Mishlei has already given us an idealized image of the female Wisdom who appears everywhere throughout the city and calls out to mankind to overcome ignorance (see Segment 01-05). Now he associates that virtual image of Wisdom with the bonds of love that a person feels towards a sister, for that love represents a relationship of purity and unselfishness. And so Mishlei calls upon his reader to permanently relate to Wisdom, saying to it, “You are my sister.” Wisdom symbolizes the the eternal Torah, given to man by Hashem. Just as the bond to a sister begins at birth and can never be abrogated, so is man’s bond with Wisdom.
PART 1. PRESERVE. Mishlei begins the segment in the Name of Hashem by instructing the student to closely guard and preserve the teachings of the Torah and the practice of the mitzvos.
(א) בְּנִי שְׁמֹר אֲמָרָי וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ: (ב) שְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתַי וֶחְיֵה וְתוֹרָתִי כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינֶיךָ:
(1) My son, heed my words and keep My mitzvos with you. (2) Heed My mitzvos and you will live. Guard My Torah as the apple of your eye.
PART 2. ACCESS. To make the weapon of wisdom available when it is needed, Mishlei advises the reader to symbolically bind the mitzvos upon his ten fingers so that he thinks of them throughout his day. He is also told to inscribe the words of the Torah upon the tablet of his heart so that they will always be accessible.
(ג) קָשְׁרֵם עַל אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ כָּתְבֵם עַל לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ:
(3) Bind them on your ten fingers. Inscribe them on the tablet of your heart.
PART 3. BOND. Mishlei then instructs the student to bond with the Torah and mitzvos so that they are part of him. He calls upon his reader to permanently relate to Wisdom, effectively saying to it, “You are my sister” and “You are my comrade.”
(ד) אֱמֹר לַחָכְמָה אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ וּמֹדָע לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא:
(4) Say to Wisdom. “You are my sister.” Call insight a comrade.
PART 4. CONCLUSION. He concludes by explaining that all these steps are needed to enable the student to call upon wisdom whenever needed to protect himself from the temptations of life. These temptations are to be further elaborated in the remaining segments of the chapter.
(ה) לִשְׁמָרְךָ מֵאִשָּׁה זָרָה מִנָּכְרִיָּה אֲמָרֶיהָ הֶחֱלִיקָה:
(5) That they may safeguard you from the strange woman, from the alien woman who smooths her words.
PART 1. PRESERVE.
(א) בְּנִי שְׁמֹר אֲמָרָי
וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ:
My son — בְּנִי , I will now be speaking to you of what you must do when you encounter temptations that can lead to spiritual disaster. Therefore, heed my urgent words — שְׁמֹר אֲמָרָי of admonition and keep all the details of My mitzvos with you — וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ at all times. You need to be fully aware of what is forbidden to you and you must prepare yourself to take the right course of action in every situation.
(ב) שְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתַי וֶחְיֵה
וְתוֹרָתִי כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינֶיךָ:
Heed My mitzvos — –שְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתַי and you will live — וֶחְיֵה in this world and the next. Guard My Torah as the apple of your eye — וְתוֹרָתִי כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינֶיךָ , for without it you will be like a slightless person groping in the darkness.
But with the Torah you will experience the blessing of light, as it says, “For the mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah is light” – כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר (Segment 06-05). The Torah gives you a conceptual framework to give meaning to the mitzvos and help you understand my instructions to you.
PART 2. ACCESS.
(ג) קָשְׁרֵם עַל אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ
כָּתְבֵם עַל לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ:
Let your thoughts continually dwell upon the Torah and the mitzvos. In this way you will not forget them. Bind them symbolically on your ten fingers — קָשְׁרֵם עַל אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ , which represent the work of your hands as you go about your day doing the mitzvos. Inscribe them on the tablet of your heart — כָּתְבֵם עַל לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ so that you are aware of the significance of every action that you take.
PART 3. BOND.
(ד) אֱמֹר לַחָכְמָה אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ
Form a loving bond with Wisdom, which calls out to mankind and urges each person to examine himself [see Segment 01-05]. Then you will be able to say to Wisdom — אֱמֹר לַחָכְמָה , “You are my sister” — אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ . Through Wisdom you will be empowered to focus on relationships of purity and unselfishness, modeled on your relationship with your sister. And just as she will will always be your sister, so should your relationship with the wisdom of the Torah be eternal.
וּמֹדָע לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא:
Empowered by Hashem’s gift of wisdom, you will have the opportunity to develop further insight and understanding. And so you will be able to call insight a comrade — וּמֹדָע לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא . Just as a comrade stands ready to help you in time of need, so should you call upon the power of understanding to help you gain additional insight whenever you need it.
PART 4. CONCLUSION.
(ה) לִשְׁמָרְךָ מֵאִשָּׁה זָרָה
מִנָּכְרִיָּה אֲמָרֶיהָ הֶחֱלִיקָה:
Remember well these teachings, that they may safeguard you from the strange woman — לִשְׁמָרְךָ מֵאִשָּׁה זָרָה , from the alien woman who smooths her words — מִנָּכְרִיָּה אֲמָרֶיהָ הֶחֱלִיקָה to trick you into immoral and unethical behavior.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
א – המאירי, אלשיך, חנוך לנער
ב – המאירי, אלשיך, חנוך לנער, מלבי”ם
ג – אבן עזרא, אלשיך, אבן יחייא
ד – רש”י, אבן עזרא, המאירי, הגר”א, מלבי”ם
ה – המאירי