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Mishlei 12-02 (Self-Sufficiency)

Mishlei 12-02


Key Concepts

One of the main challenges a person must face in life derives from the instinctive desire to be self-sufficient. This desire causes him to rely on his own cleverness in planning his life and choosing what to do in any situation. What he should be doing is live his life with reference to the will of his Creator. That means doing what is right and good instead of following his own crafty schemes, no matter how innovative they may seem.

He should look to Hashem to provide him with what he needs in life rather then rely on his own clever ideas to obtain them, especially since his schemes may tempt him to go against the will of Hashem. If he does what Hashem wants him to do he will live in Hashem’s favor and help bring blessing to the world. But if he chooses to rely on himself, his clever schemes will be self-destructive and he will be ripe for calamity.

Exploring Mishlei

ב =  טוֹב יָפִיק רָצוֹן מֵה‘ וְאִישׁ מְזִמּוֹת יַרְשִׁיעַ

(2) A good person seeks favor from Hashem,
but a scheming person brings about calamity.

This proverb compares the good person with the scheming person. Without unnecessarily deep thought or subtle planning the good man lives his life by acting in a straightforward way so as to invoke the favor of Hashem. The scheming person overestimates cleverness in general and his own cleverness, in particular. He thinks that the results of his own intelligence are sufficient, but he is sadly mistaken and disaster is the result.

Learning Mishlei

(2) A good person – טוֹב
seeks favor from Hashem, –
יָפִיק רָצוֹן מֵה‘
but a scheming person –
וְאִישׁ מְזִמּוֹת
brings about calamity. –


Additional Insights


(1) By pleasing Hashem through his behavior, the good person draws forth
Hashem’s good will to bring blessing to the world. This is because his simple thoughts and deeds are for good and right ends. (רש”י, מלבי”ם)

(2) The good person evaluates his own desires to match them against the will of Hashem. In effect he draws forth his own will from the will of Hashem. (רלב”ג)

(3) The mitzvos represent the will of Hashem and by observing them the good person evoke His true will, which is to do good to His creatures. (הגר”א)

(4) Only what is agreeable to Hashem is good in the absolute sense. (רשר”ה)


(5) The person who is drawn after his own schemes contributes to the preponderance of evil in the world and thereby induces Hashem to judge the world harshly. (מצודות)

(6) Only a person who thinks that the results of his own intelligence are sufficient dares act against G-d’s Law. (רשר”ה)

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