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 1]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 10-09 (Integrity)
A person who lives his life with integrity has no need of lies or subterfuge because he is confident that no matter what happens, he will not be at a disadvantage if he stays with the truth. He trusts the good will of Hashem to ensure the best possible outcome.
To live with integrity as a guiding principle takes a great deal of self-control because a person is constantly beset with temptations. These options seem to offer an easy way out of his current difficulties or frustrations if he is willing to pervrert the truth.
Noach was the first person to be described as a man of integrity, as it says, “Noach was a righteous man. He was man of integrity in his times,” – נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו (Bereishis 6:9). As a man of integrity Noach displayed the quality of wholeness or blamelessness because he observed the mitzvos of Hashem whole-heartedly without consciously interpreting their meaning to suit his own convenience.
Because integrity requires great deal of effort, it is seen as a path through life, a road that must be followed. Noach followed that road, as it says, “Noach walked with G-d,” – אֶת הָאֱלֹקִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ נֹחַ (ibid.)
(ט) הוֹלֵךְ בַּתֹּם יֵלֶךְ בֶּטַח וּמְעַקֵּשׁ דְּרָכָיו יִוָּדֵעַ:
(9) He who walks with integrity, will go forward securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.
The man of integrity lives his life on the road of self-improvement, constantly working to develop his moral strength.
As long as such a man is on the road of integrity he trusts in Hashem to protect him from dangers, and to do whatever is best for him. He has no need to keep his life a secret because he knows that he is always trying to do what is right.
Mishlei contrasts the man of integrity with the devious man who is seeking to gain advantage by falsehood. Mishlei reminds him that his schemes are doomed to fail and he will surely be found out.
(ט) הוֹלֵךְ בַּתֹּם יֵלֶךְ בֶּטַח
וּמְעַקֵּשׁ דְּרָכָיו יִוָּדֵעַ:
He who walks in integrity — הוֹלֵךְ בַּתֹּם , trusting Hashem to take care of him will go forward through life confidently and securely — יֵלֶךְ בֶּטַח , but he who perverts his ways — וּמְעַקֵּשׁ דְּרָכָיו , seeking to take advantage and hide his motivations, will be found out — יִוָּדֵעַ .
(1) The sincerely trusting person does not let fear of others make him compromise on his principles.
(2) The person who has bitachon has no fear of threats because he knows that Hashem is watching him.
(3) A person who lives his life in whole-hearted sincerity like Noach, is constantly working on himself to improve his moral strength and his-discipline.
(4) A person who practices deception to take advantage of another has to subterfuge to keep his friend from knowing the truith. But the one who practices integrity with no intent of harming his fwellow has no fear of being found out.
(5) The devious person lacks sincere bitachon in Hashem. Therefore, he tries to manipulate events to his own advantage. His motivations are hidden and he is constant fear of being found out.
(6) The devious person thinks he can keep he screts, but his machinations will be ultimately known to all when his schemes fail, for Hashgem will see to it that they fail.
(7) The person who leaves the straight road to gain advantage will be found out because people will quiestion why he changed his practices.
The primary sources used for the insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – רבינו יונה
(2) – אבן עזרא, רלב”ג
(3) – רשר”ה
(4) – הגר”א
(5) – הגר”א
(6) – אבן עזרא, הגר”א
(7) – רבינו יונה