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Key Concepts of Mishlei 10-30 (Speech and Goodwill)
When used by a righteous person (tzaddik) the human mouth becomes a source of life (see Segment 10-11). With the power of speech the tzaddik can share wisdom, promote goodwill, and communicate with his Creator. In contrast, wicked people (resha’im) use their power of speech to instigate controversy and strife.
(לא) פִּי צַדִּיק יָנוּב חָכְמָה וּלְשׁוֹן תַּהְפֻּכוֹת תִּכָּרֵת:
(31) The mouth of the tzaddik sprouts wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be severed
(לב) שִׂפְתֵי צַדִּיק יֵדְעוּן רָצוֹן וּפִי רְשָׁעִים תַּהְפֻּכוֹת:
(32) The lips of a tzaddik know how to placate, but the mouth of resha’im speaks perversity.
In the two proverbs of this segment Mishlei addresses two aspects of the positive use of the power of speech as used by the tzaddik: (1) sharing wisdom with others, and (2) reducing strife by placating those who have been wronged.
In contrast, the two proverbs tells us that resha’im use speech in a perverse way. They antagonizie people and foment strife. Since Hashem hates strife and ill will, He will surely bring that ability to an end (v.31).
(לא) פִּי צַדִּיק יָנוּב חָכְמָה
וּלְשׁוֹן תַּהְפֻּכוֹת תִּכָּרֵת:
The mouth of a tzaddik sprouts wisdom — פִּי צַדִּיק יָנוּב חָכְמָה , thereby promoting peace and long life. But a perverse tongue foments strife and will be severed — וּלְשׁוֹן תַּהְפֻּכוֹת תִּכָּרֵת , that is, it will be prevented from bringing its quarrelsome ideas into action.
(לב) שִׂפְתֵי צַדִּיק יֵדְעוּן רָצוֹן
וּפִי רְשָׁעִים תַּהְפֻּכוֹת:
The lips of a tzaddik know how to placate Hashem and people — שִׂפְתֵי צַדִּיק יֵדְעוּן רָצוֹן , but the mouth of resha’im speaks perversity — וּפִי רְשָׁעִים תַּהְפֻּכוֹת .
THE MOUTH OF THE TZADDIK (v. 31)
(1) The tzaddik is compared to a blossoming tree (See Mizmor 001, v. 1:3) that produces bountiful fruit. Just as the nature of the tree is to produce fruit and sheltering leaves, so is the nature of the tzaddik to produce wisdom that enlightens all who have access to his words.
(2) The tzaddik is motivated by the welfare of others and so he uses the power of speech to make wisdom palatable to the people.
(3) The tzaddik speaks in terms of wisdom and mussar, thereby elevating the moral level of the people.
THE LIPS OF THE TZADDIK (v. 32)
(4) The tzaddik uses the power of speech to placate the person who has been wronged. In this way he prevents strife.
(5) The tzaddik placates the anger of Hashem in tefillah, thereby saving the world from harsh judgment.
(6) Although the tzaddik speaks in terms of truth, he knows how to couch his words in such a way as to maintain peace among contending parties.
THE TONGUE OF PERVERSITY (v. 31)
(7) In their perversity, the resha’im speak the opposite of wisdom, that is, the opposite of truth. And just as the the fruit of the tzaddik is wisdom, the fruit of the resha’im is pride, which leads to strife.
(8) The perverse tongue will be prevented from bringing its quarrelsome ideas into action.
THE MOUTH OF RESHA’IM (v. 32)
(9) In their perversity, the resha’im do not practice the humility needed to placate their adversaries. On the contrary they falsely insist that they have done no wrong and therefore they don’t back down from their antagonistic stance.
(10) When the resha’im try to placate someone they do so in a dishonest way, using the power of falsehood to deceive.
The primary sources used for the insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – רבינו בחיי
(2) – אבן יחייא
(3) – מצודות
(4) – חנוך לנער, אבן יחייא
(5) – רש”י
(6) -רבינו יונה
(7) – רבינו יונה, רבינו בחיי
(8) – המאירי
(9) – חנוך לנער
(01) – הגר”א