In the previous segment Mishlei taught us to place restraints on the acquisition of wealth and to set aside an appropriate portion to help others. Now he responds to those who are concerned that they will not have enough money to meet every contingency. Are not extraordinary efforts justified in case of recession or famine?
The answer he gives is that Hashem watches over the tzaddik (righteous man) and will not let him go hungry. Hashem loves the tzaddik and even when times are difficult, it is a temporary trial designed to enable him to perfect himself.
In contrast Hashem hates the resha’im (wicked) and sees to it that any assets they have acquired in their exploitation of others will be not last.
לֹא יַרְעִיב ה’ נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק וְהַוַּת רְשָׁעִים יֶהְדֹּף
(3) Hashem will not impose hunger upon the soul of the tzaddik
but the assets of the resha’im will be pushed aside.
Hashem keeps the tzaddik from hunger by protecting his wealth. In contrast, the wealth of resha’im will not last.
Hashem watches over the righteous. Thus, even in times of famine,
Hashem will not impose hunger — לֹא יַרְעִיב ה’ –
upon the soul of the tzadik — נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק.
His soul will continue to be gratified physically and spiritually,
but the assets of the wicked — וְהַוַּת רְשָׁעִים
will be pushed aside — יֶהְדֹּף.
It is they who will experience misfortune rather than the righteous.
(1) Don’t hold yourself back from helping the poor out of concern that you won’t have enough for yourself in time of need. And don’t make extraordinary or unlawful efforts to acquire wealth. As long as you are living a righteous life and are helping those in need you won’t suffer privation, even in times of general famine. On the contrary, you will see success in all your endeavors and will always be able to feed your family. (אבן עזרא, המאירי, מלבי”ם)
(2) Hashem watches over the righteous person, and even when he is being put through trials and tests, this is in order to allow him to perfect and ennoble himself. Hashem does this out of fatherly love and will not let him be destroyed. Evil, however, unfailingly ends in ruin. (רשר”ה)
(3) The resha’im are hated by Hashem as well as their fellow man. And so they and any one who joins them will be pushed aside together with their wealth. (אבן יחייא)
(4) It may happen that the resha’im experience success and their wealth expands, you will find that it is only temporary and their wealth will ultimately pushed aside and disintegrate on its own. (תבונת משלי)
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