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 0]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 12-22 (Betrayal)
Some people misuse the great gift of speech, making promises or commitments that they do not intend to honor. In so doing they are betraying the trust that innocent people give to them. By taking unfair advantage in this way they shatter the social bonds that make civilization possible and so their behavior is viewed by Hashem as an abomination.
People whose trust has been betrayed are less likely to accept someone’s word the next time. This leads to a general spread of skepticism which distorts all human interaction and results in a breakdown of constructive cooperation among people.
In contrast, people who take their own words seriously and follow through by carrying out what they have committed to do, are a delight to their Creator. Their behavior demonstrates their appreciation and gratitude to Him for His gift of speech.
(כב) תּוֹעֲבַת ה’ שִׂפְתֵי־שָׁקֶר וְעֹשֵׂי אֱמוּנָה רְצוֹנוֹ:
False lips [that make insincere promises] are an abomination to Hashem, but people who act faithfully are his desire.
The proverb compares the negative extreme of the person who makes commitments that he does not intend to keep with the positive extreme of the person who recognizes the obligation implied by his words and then proceeds to do what he has promised.
The lips are identified as the speech organ of those who treat their own words carelessly. Lips signify an external, superficial involvement in what is being said, in contrast to the tongue which is more actively involved in choosing one’s words. The symbolic role of the lips in speech are also explored in Segment 12-19. Of course all organs of the body can be used for good or bad, and it is up to the individual to make proper use of what he has been given by Hashem.
(כב) תּוֹעֲבַת ה‘ שִׂפְתֵי שָׁקֶר
וְעֹשֵׂי אֱמוּנָה רְצוֹנוֹ:
False lips that make insincere promises are an abomination to Hashem — תּוֹעֲבַת ה’ שִׂפְתֵי־שָׁקֶר , but people who act faithfully and keep their word are His desire — וְעֹשֵׂי אֱמוּנָה רְצוֹנוֹ .
A series of insights illuminating this proverb are presented below. The numbers identifying the insights refer to the listing of sources at the end of the segment.
(1) Hashem cares very much about the nature of our behavior. The range of attitudes He will take towards what we have done range the gamut from an extremely negative reaction called toevah (abomination) to an extremely favorable reaction called ratzon (desire).
(2) Corresponding to the extremes of Hashem’s reaction are the extremes of behavior eliciting that reaction.
(3) With regard to speech, the kind of speech that is seen as an abomination, is the speech that is consciously false at the time it is spoken because the individual speaks them knows that he will not fulfill them.
(4) The kind of speech that is most desirable is recognized by the resulting physical deed that fulfills those words, and by the thoughts in the depths of the heart that match the words.
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – מלבים
(2) – מלבים
(3) – רבינו יונה
(4) – הגר”א