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Key Concepts of Mishlei 10-24 (Hopes and Fears)
A person’s thoughts of the future are affected by his hopes and his fears. He hopes that his desires will be fulfilled and that any potential threats on the horizon will be avoided. He may fear that potential threats will be realized or that he will be disappointed by the failure of his hopes.
The specific content of a person’s hopes and fears depends on his character. Is he a tzaddik (righteous person), a rasha (wicked person), or somewhere in between? To the extent that a person is a tzaddik, he hopes for the opportunity to please his Creator and to the extent that he is a rasha he hopes for the means to satisfy his personal cravings.
Ultimately, the outcome of what a person was hoping for and what he feared is determined by Hashem. Mishlei reminds us in this proverb that this outcome will be based on that individual’s status in Hashem’s eyes.
(כד) מְגוֹרַת רָשָׁע הִיא תְבוֹאֶנּוּ וְתַאֲוַת צַדִּיקִים יִתֵּן:
(24) What the rasha dreads will come upon him and [Hashem] will grant the desire of the tzaddikim.
Out of all the fears that confront the rasha, he will take special steps to protect himself against the the threat that he most dreads. However, it will be to no avail because his fate is not in his own hands, but in the hands of the Master of the world. In contrast, Hashem fufills the hopes of tzaddikim, even those that they have not expressed.
(כד) מְגוֹרַת רָשָׁע הִיא תְבוֹאֶנּוּ
וְתַאֲוַת צַדִּיקִים יִתֵּן:
What the rasha dreads will come upon him — מְגוֹרַת רָשָׁע הִיא תְבוֹאֶנּוּ – because his sinful actions carry the seeds of his own misfortune. And Hashem Himself will grant the desire of the tzaddikim — וְתַאֲוַת צַדִּיקִים יִתֵּן – as a sign of His love and goodwill towards them.
(1) The rasha is motivated by ambitions of wealth. His greatest fear is poverty, which will prevent him from satisfying his sensual cravings.
(2) The rasha tries everything in his power to defend himself against a threat, but will be punished with those things he most fears and most actively seeks to prevent.
(3) The downfall of the rasha will be the direct result of his defensive actions which are unethical and inherently defective.
(4) The rasha knows he is committing offenses, but he continues to take risks, hoping that he will not be caught and will not be punished. That for which he hopes will not come to pass. Instead that which he fears will befall him.
(5) The rasha fears his downfall. But that calamity is what the tzaddikim hope for. The very same event will fulfill the fears of one and the hopes of the other.
(6) The tzaddikim crave the kindness of Hashem and the opportunity of being close to Him. These things they will gain, and that which they fear, persecution by the reshaim, they will escape.
(7) The tzaddikim are motivated by the opportunity to guide others in the right way, and bring them to avodas Hashem. Their hopes will be granted.
(8) The desires of the tzaddikim will be granted by Hashem in kindness and love because the reward of their good deeds is given in a measure greater what is inherent in the deed itself.
(9) Hashem will grant to the tzaddikim wishes that they have not even expressed.
The primary sources used for the insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – רבינו יונה, רשר”ה
(2) – מלבי”ם, רשר”ה
(3) – הגר”א
(4) -אבן יחייא
(5) – חנוך לנער
(6) – רבינו יונה
(7) – אבן יחייא
(8) – הגר”א
(9) – מלבי”ם