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Mishlei 14-22  


Key Concepts

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.

Exploring Mishlei

 כב = הֲלוֹא יִתְעוּ חֹרְשֵׁי רָע וְחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת חֹרְשֵׁי טוֹב

(22) 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 ensures that the purity of motive will be maintained and the result will be the virtuous goals of kindness (chesed) and truth (emes).

Learning Mishlei

(22) Will they 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.

Additional Insights

(1) By definition, anyone who plans evil is straying from the straight path.  (אבן עזרא)

(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). (מצודות)

(3) People who secretly plan to do evil will go astray because no one who can correct their errors sees what they are doing. (מלבי”ם)

(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. (מלבי”ם)

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Mishlei 14-22 (Secrecy) PDF version