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Key Concepts of Mishlei 15-06 (Contamination)
A righteous person’s home is like a warehouse filled with all the spiritual treasure that he has amassed over the years. It includes the wisdom he has acquired and the mitzvos he has performed. It includes all the devotion, love, and goodwill earned by himself and the members of his family. Furthermore, if he has managed to accumulate physical wealth through hard work, it becomes part of his legacy, which he passes on to future generations.
Anyone who owns a warehouse makes sure to have it protected against fire and theft. If he uses its facilities to store grain or other perishable goods he must guard them against contamination. He knows that if he does not take the needed precautions he can lose everything.
The treasure that a tzadik has accumulated over a lifetime is also subject to loss. If he permits evil in whatever form to enter his home that source of contamination can ultimately destroy everything.
Therefore, the tzadik needs to be constantly on guard and take active steps to protect his investment from the subtle and insidious forces that can appear when he least expects them. Those forces can come from the outside world, but tragically they can also come from within him in the form of moral weakness, selfishness, and pride.
(ו) בֵּית צַדִּיק חֹסֶן רָב וּבִתְבוּאַת רָשָׁע נֶעְכָּרֶת:
(5) The house of the tzadik is a great stronghold, but it can be contaminated with the grain of the rasha .
This proverb alludes to the spiritual and physical treasure that a person accumulates over his lifetime. It warns him not to assume he will always have it. Like grain in a warehouse it can easily become contaminated by evil forces unless he acts to protect it.
(ו) בֵּית צַדִּיק חֹסֶן רָב
וּבִתְבוּאַת רָשָׁע נֶעְכָּרֶת:
The house of the tzadik — בֵּית צַדִּיק is a great stronghold — חֹסֶן רָב filled with spiritual and physical treasure, but by adding the grain of the rasha — וּבִתְבוּאַת רָשָׁע it becomes polluted — נֶעְכָּרֶת .
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) A person who brings corruption into his home through dishonest dealings or immoral behavior will contaminate everything he owns and his entire treasure is subject to loss. (malbim)
(2) The Bais Hamikdash that David Hamelech founded was a tower of strength for Klal Yisrael. However, his descendant Menashe brought about its destruction bringing idols into the holy precincts. (Rashi)
(3) A person’s soul is like a warehouse which he builds over the years, filling it with wisdom and mitzvos. He can ruin this beautiful edifice by contaminating it with bad middos. (Malbim)
(4) The stability and endurance of a home may be understood as the direct result of a person’s own efforts, or the effect of Hashgachah that becomes attached to him. (Ralbag)
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) – מלבי”ם
(2) – רש”י
(3) – מלבי”ם
(4) – רלב”ג