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 2]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 10-29 (Stability and Integrity)
The person who follows the way of Hashem will be blessed with a life of stability, one that is long and productive. The stability that is granted by Hashem is like a towering stronghold with firm foundations that are deeply implanted in the earth. Even when powerful winds shake the tower, its foundations remain firm.
And so, when a tzaddik (righteous person) is challenged by problems which bend him low, he will be able to overcome them and recover to his full potential. On the other hand, the resha’im (wicked people) who reject Hashem’s way will ultimately be held accountable and they will stay down.
The tzaddik who follows the way of Hashem, lives a life of integrity. That means he conscientiously observes Hashem’s Torah and mitzvos without re-interpreting their meaning to suit his own convenience. As previously noted (Segment 10-09), such a person 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.
(כט) מָעוֹז לַתֹּם דֶּרֶךְ ה’ וּמְחִתָּה לְפֹעֲלֵי אָוֶן: (ל) צַדִּיק לְעוֹלָם בַּל יִמּוֹט וּרְשָׁעִים לֹא יִשְׁכְּנוּ אָרֶץ:
(29) The way of Hashem is a stronghold to the tzaddik who lives with integrity, but a disaster to wrongdoers. (30) A tzaddik will not be toppled forever, but the resha’im will not dwell in the land.
Mishlei conveys the message of this segment in two proverbs (29 and 30). The first describes the way of Hashem as being a stronghold. It teaches that the essential characteristic of the tzaddik who follows the way of Hashem is his integrity and so he is referred to as תֹּם (person of integrity). The second proverb elaborates on the concept of stronghold. Because of his strong foundation, the tzaddik will not be toppled forever, even though he may falter.
As far the resha’im are concerned, they are described in the first proverb as being פּעֲלֵי אָוֶן (wrongdoers). Because they reject the way of Hashem their destiny is disastrous. The second proverb adds that they have no long-term future, that is, “they will not dwell in the land.”
(כט) מָעוֹז לַתֹּם דֶּרֶךְ ה’
וּמְחִתָּה לְפֹעֲלֵי אָוֶן:
The way of Hashem is a stronghold to people of integrity — מָעוֹז לַתֹּם דֶּרֶךְ ה’ for they are inspired to conscientiously emulate the qualities of Hashem, His kindness and His truth. But it is a disaster to wrongdoers — וּמְחִתָּה לְפֹעֲלֵי אָוֶן – for their dishonest behavior will bring about their own downfall.
(ל) צַדִּיק לְעוֹלָם בַּל יִמּוֹט
וּרְשָׁעִים לֹא יִשְׁכְּנוּ אָרֶץ:
Even when he falters, a tzaddik will not be toppled forever — צַדִּיק לְעוֹלָם בַּל יִמּוֹט . But when the resha’im fall, it will be permanent and they will not dwell tranquilly in the land — וּרְשָׁעִים לֹא יִשְׁכְּנוּ אָרֶץ . Even in the grave they will have no peace.
A series of insights illuminating these two proverbs are presented below. The numbers identifying the insights refer to the listing of sources of at the end of the segment.
THE WAY OF HASHEM (v. 29)
(1) The way of Hashem is a stronghold for people of integrity because even though they may be physically weak and their innocence may make them vulnerable to deceivers, Hashem is their strength and He will protect them.
(2) Furthermore it is a stronghold in that they have gained the benefit of the wisdom of the Torah, which will guide them in every situation.
(3) Because it is a stronghold, the righteous plans they make in honesty and sincerity will surely succeed.
(4) The tzaddik pleases Hashem by following His way. Therefore, Hashem will reward him by becoming his stronghold to bring him the joy to which he aspires.
(5) Because the way of Hashem is a stronghold, the tzaddik who follows it is inspired to emulate the qualities of Hashem and practice kindness and honesty with everyone.
THE TZADDIK (v. 30)
(6) Despite his troubles the tzaddik does not stay down forever because Hashem is his stronghold. (v. 29).
(7) The hashgachah (direct care) of Hashem will protect the tzaddik from being pushed away from his place in this world (Eretz Yisrael).
(8) Even when the tzaddik dies, his descendants will carry on his life’s work.
WRONGDOERS (v. 29)
(9) The way of Hashem is a disaster for wrongdoers because they are held to account for disregarding it. Their fate is to perish from the world.
(10) Because they reject Hashem’s qualities of kindness and truth, their behavior will bring about their own downfall.
(11) Even though they may be full of pride and arrogance because of their apparent good fortune, Hashem will ultimately see to it that they are brought down. Their plans in violation of Hashem’s way will surely fail.
RESHA’IM (v. 30)
(12) When the resha’im die, they won’t leave descendants who will cherish their memory.
(13) The good fortune of the resha’im will not last and they will ultimately be doomed to oblivion. When they fall, they will not rise again. they will not live on in the World to Come. (See Yeshayah 60:21) (Rabbeinu Yonah, Hameiri, Metzudos, Hagra)
(14) Because of their sins, the reshai’m will be will be driven out of their secure place by their many enemies. Even in this life they will have no peace. And when they fall it will be permanent. (Ralbag, Ibn Yachyah, Chanoch Lenaar, Shevet))
The primary sources used for the insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – רבינו יונה, דעת סופרים
(2) – המאירי
(3) – רלב”ג
(4) – מצודות, חנוך לנער
(5) – מלבי”ם
(6) – רש”י, רבינו יונה, אבן יחייא, מצודות
(7) – רלב”ג, חנוך לנער
(8) – אבן עזרא
(9) – מלבי”ם, חנוך לנער
(01) – מלבי”ם
(11) – רש”י, אבן יחייא, מצודות
(21) – אבן עזרא
(31) – רבינו יונה, המאירי, מצודות, הגר”א
(41) – רלב”ג, אבן יחייא, חנוך לנער, שבט מיהודה