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Key Concepts of Mishlei 10-28 (Hope)
We live in the present but our state of mind is highly influenced by our hope and expectation of what will happen in the future. Hope is an essential quality that gives a person happiness and joy in what he is doing. It invigorates him and increases his inclination to expend positive energy in whatever task he is addressing. Thus, hope is important in avodas Hashem because it leads a person to put his heart and soul into the performance of mitzvos.
Hope is directly related to bitachon (trust) and to tefillah (prayer). A person who has bitachon in Hashem will place his hopes in Him. This is a constant theme in Tehillim. In Mizmor 027 David Hamelech provides us with a framework for thinking about tefillah, bitachon, and hope.
The word “hope” implies eagerly awaiting a future event. However, this leaves open the question as to whether the hoped for result is truly worthwhile and what basis the person has for expecting the desired outcome. Is it really likely to occur? And then there is the question of whether the person will be pleased with the final result. These issues are succinctly touched upon by Mishlei in the present proverb.
(כח) תּוֹחֶלֶת צַדִּיקִים שִׂמְחָה וְתִקְוַת רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד:
(28) The hope of tzaddikim will be [fulfilled in] joy, but the hope of resha’im will fail.
As in many of the previous proverbs, Mishlei provides us with a contrast, distinguishing between the effect of hope upon righteous people (tzaddikim) and wicked people (resha’im). He implies that the hope of tzaddikim is for a worthwhile outcome and this is related to the confidence with which they can expect it to be fulfilled.
To emphasize the difference between the hope of tzaddikim and that of resha’im, Mishlei uses different terms for hope ( תּוֹחֶלֶת – and– תִּקְוַת ) for the two types of person. Aspects of these terms are elaborated upon in the Additional Insights section below. These aspects are based on the views of different commentators, each of which emphasizes some of the important qualities inherent in hope. It is important to remember that hope is a good attitude to have and ultimately the difference lies in who is experiencing it.
(כח) תּוֹחֶלֶת צַדִּיקִים שִׂמְחָה
וְתִקְוַת רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד:
The hope — תּוֹחֶלֶת – for the promised result, which tzaddikim patiently and eagerly await with confidence will become their joy — צַדִּיקִים שִׂמְחָה , when it is fulfilled. But the hope for material gains which resha’im fantasize about will be doomed — וְתִקְוַת רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד , because it will never happen.
(1) The outcome for which tzaddikim are hoping is destined to fulfilled and when that time comes they will surely rejoice.
(2) The outcome for which tzaddikim hope is not subject to disappointment because it is not dependent on their own abilities or on chance, but on the kindness of Heaven. And even when it is delayed, tzaddikim are joyful because they know that they have served Hashem by putting their trust in Him. They will be rewarded for the trust.
(3) What do tzaddikim hope for? A longer, healthy life in this world so that they can serve Hashem and do more mitzvos, as in the previous proverb (Segment 10-27).
(4) What do tzaddikim hope for? The joy of eternal life in the World to Come. There is no material reward in this world that can compare to it.
(5) What do tzaddikim hope for? They also hope that the destructive hopes of the resha’im will be doomed to failure.
(6) The term תּוֹחֶלֶת implies eagerly awaiting an outcome.
(7) The term תּוֹחֶלֶת implies awaiting for an outcome that is sure to happen. Thus, it is especially applicable to tzaddikim for they have bitachon.
(8) The term תּוֹחֶלֶת implies patiently awaiting an event which may be delayed into the distant future. This is not a problem for tzaddikim because they have bitachon that, no matter how long it takes, the promise will be fulfilled in the next world.
(9) The resha’im are doomed to disappointment because that for which they are hoping will not happen.
(10) When the particular outcome for which resha’im are hoping fails, their hope is dashed because they do not receive any reward for having placed their hope in material gains.
(11) What do resha’im hope for? Acquisition of worldly goods and physical pleasures. These are temporary by their very nature and are therefore doomed.
(12) What do resha’im hope for? Success in criminal schemes involving violkence and deception. These are inevitably doomed to failure.
(13) The term תִּקְוַת implies awaiting an outcome that is expected to arrive in the immediate future. This can quickly lead to disappointment. Resha’im are impatient and expect gratification for their desires in the near term.
(14) The term תִּקְוַת implies optimistically looking for something to happen but with no real foundation or sense of certainty that it will actually take.
The primary sources used for the insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) -רש”י, מצודות
(2) – רבינו יונה, שבט מיהודה
(3) – חנוך לנער
(4) – רלב”ג, אבן יחייא, חנוך לנער
(5) – חנוך לנער
(6) – רבינו יונה
(7) – מלבי”ם
(8) – הגר”א
(9) – רש”י, מצודות
(01) – רבינו יונה
(11) – רלב”ג
(21) – חנוך לנער
(31) – הגר”א
(41) – מלבי”ם