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Mishlei 16-30 (Progression)
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 1]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 16-30 (Progression)
A serious offense does not happen instananeously. The offender goes through a sequenced progression of thoughts, speech, and action to result in the harm done to another person. During the course of this progression, the offender is likely to give himself away with subtle body language, including movements of the eyes and lips.
The idea of such a progression is important from the point of view of both the offender and his victim. The offender, realizing that he is in the middle of process with a catastrophic result can stop himself if he realizes what is happening to him. The victim who recognizes that he is danger can take steps to protect himself.
Exploring Mishlei
(ל) עֹצֶה עֵינָיו לַחְשֹׁב תַּהְפֻּכוֹת קֹרֵץ שְׂפָתָיו כִּלָּה רָעָה:
He closes his eyes to think of treacheries. He signals with his lips; the evil is done.
This proverb takes us through the progression of eye movements, facial expressions and lip movements accompanying thoughts of treachery. By this time the offense is almost complete. Nothing remains except the physical action that causes harm. This action may consist of striking the victim or harming him with spoken words.
Learning Mishlei
(ל) עֹצֶה עֵינָיו לַחְשֹׁב תַּהְפֻּכוֹת 
קֹרֵץ שְׂפָתָיו כִּלָּה רָעָה:
He closes his eyes — עֹצֶה עֵינָיו to mislead people and to think of treacheries — לַחְשֹׁב תַּהְפֻּכוֹת He signals with his lips — קֹרֵץ שְׂפָתָיו ; and with that, the evil is effectively done — כִּלָּה רָעָה .
Additional Insights
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)The most dangerous person is the one who closes his eyes and purses his lips in a show of piety, when in reality his eyes are closed to scheme evil.
(2) In Segment 06-03 (pasuk 6:13) Mishlei spoke about winking with the eyes to mislead someone. Now he speaks about a similar movement of the lips.
(3) If the movement of the lips involves Lashon Hara (evil gossip), the offense has already been committed by the mere speaking of words.
(4) Just as closing the eyes may indicate the person is in deep thought, he can signal this by appearing to bite his lips.
(5) The word for closing the eyes ( עֹצֶה ) can also be translated as winking, a movement of the eyes associated with advice. The person moves his eyes in a way that suggest he is giving good advice.
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) -אלשיך, דעת סופרים
(2) – דעת סופרים
(3) – מצודות
(4) – אבן יחייא
(5) – מצודות