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 14-22 (Secrecy)
People who are planning on doing harm often do so in secrecy, hoping that their evil intentions will not be discovered. If they were wise they would realize that their secretive behavior is self-destructive and because their secret plans lack transparency, they are likely to fail.
But secrecy is not in itself a bad thing. In fact, there are times when it is right to avoid the glare of publicity. This generally applies to somebody who wants to do a kindness. The needy person will appreciate the discreet way in which he is being helped.
(כב) הֲלוֹא יִתְעוּ חֹרְשֵׁי רָע וְחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת חֹרְשֵׁי טוֹב:
Those who secretly plan on doing evil, will they not go astray? But those who secretly plan good deeds will achieve kindness and truth.
This proverb compares widely divergent uses of secrecy. When used to cause harm to others, such secrecy is like to fail and the plans for deception will go astray. The very secretiveness will weaken the effectiveness of the plans.
But when used to do good deeds, the use of secrecy insures that the purity of motive will be maintained and the result will be the virtuous goals of kindness (chesed) and truth (emes).
(כב) הֲלוֹא יִתְעוּ חֹרְשֵׁי רָע
וְחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת חֹרְשֵׁי טוֹב:
Will the people not go astray — הֲלוֹא יִתְעוּ , those who secretly plan on doing evil — חֹרְשֵׁי רָע . But kindness and truth — וְחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת will be achieved by those who secretly plan good deeds — חֹרְשֵׁי טוֹב .
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) By definition, anyone who plans evil is straying from the straight path.
(2) Those who plan to do good deeds will be rewarded with the kindness of Hashem (chesed) and their purpose of doing good will be achieved and made true (emes).
(3) People who secretly plan to do evil will go astray because no one who can correct their errors sees what they are doing.
(4) An act of chesed is a kindness which is done without expectation of reward. A person who plans to do a kindness in secret has no expectation of reward and so the act is judged as chesed.
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – אבן עזרא
(2) – מצודות
(3) – מלבי”ם
(4) – מלבי”ם