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Mishlei 12-23


Key Concepts

When people acquire knowledge, they are immediately tempted to reveal it to others. In this way they gain influence and draw attention to themselves. However, there are great risks involved in revealing sensitive knowledge to those who are not able to use it properly. Also, if one rushes to share new knowledge there is a risk that it may not be fully valid. It is the responsibility of anyone who shares knowledge with others to act with discretion and make sure it is clear and certain.

A wise man has mastered the ability to acquire and use wisdom. If he is also clever he will carefully choose how and when he reveals any knowledge he has acquired.  A foolish person allows his emotions to influence the way he reveals knowledge.

Exploring Mishlei

 כג = אָדָם עָרוּם כֹּסֶה דָּעַת וְלֵב כְּסִילִים יִקְרָא אִוֶּלֶת

(23) A clever man conceals his knowledge,
but the
man of foolish heart proclaims his foolishness.

The proverb emphasizes the behavior of the clever man who is able to conceal his knowledge until the circumstances are right.  He is contrasted with the fool who lets his heart dictate what he says and to whom he says it.

Learning Mishlei

(23) A clever man אָדָם עָרוּם
conceals his knowledge כֹּסֶה דָּעַת
until the circumstances are right.
but the man of foolish heart וְלֵב כְּסִילִים
and keep their word
proclaims his foolishnessיִקְרָא אִוֶּלֶת
as soon as it comes into his mind.

Additional Insights

(1) A clever person who is wise and practices humility hides his accomplishments. (רבינו יונה)

(2) A clever person refines and clarifies his knowledge deep within his heart so that it will not be distorted. (אבן עזרא)

(3) The term daas refers to knowledge that is clear and certain. (מלבי”ם)

(4) A clever person does not reveal new knowledge that has come to his attention until he has had the opportunity to analyze and reflect uon it. (המאירי, רלב”ג)

(5) A clever person reveals his knowledge only to those who are worthy of it. (מצודות)

(6) A person of foolish heart immediately publicizes new knowledge that has come to his attention without taking the time to ascertain its validity. (מלבי”ם)

(7) A person of foolish heart lacks discretion and allows his emotions to influence his jugment. And so, he displays his foolishness without thinking. (מלבי”ם)

(8) A foolish person even reveals knowledge that reflects badly on him. (רבינו יונה)

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