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Mishlei 17-26


Key Concepts

A good person is inclined to forgive those who have offended him. The offenders may deserve punishment for the harm they have done, but the good person doesn’t want to be the cause of another’s pain. Even if the punishment is decreed in Heaven, the good person hopes the offenders will see the error of their ways so that retribution is not carried out on his account.

Exploring Mishlei

 כו = גַּם עֲנוֹשׁ לַצַּדִּיק לֹא טוֹב לְהַכּוֹת נְדִיבִים עַל יֹשֶׁר

(26) Even a justified punishment for an offense to a righteous person
is not good;  like justifiably smiting
an offender for the benefit of princes .

Mishlei compares the good person’s situation to that of a noble prince who has been offended by the careless act of a peasant. If the prince has a harsh nature he may feel justified in ordering the peasant to be flogged. That quality of harshness is not an admirable quality. True nobility calls for forbearance and forgiveness.

Learning Mishlei

(26) Even a justified punishment גַּם עֲנוֹשׁ
for an offense to a Tzadik — לַצַּדִּיק
is not good  — לֹא טוֹב
like smiting an offender  — לְהַכּוֹת
for the benefit of princes  — נְדִיבִים
that is justified  — עַל יֹשֶׁר

Additional Insight

(1) The honor of a righteous person can be the cause of an offender’s punishment, as it says, וּתְפִלַּת צַדִּיקִים יִשְׁמָע, He hears the prayer of the righteous (see Mishlei segment 15-29), but it is appropriate for the righteous person to overlook an offense (רבינו יונה)

(2) The true qualiity of nobility is to show graciousness and forbearance to those who offend them, as implied by the word נְדִיב, a gracious prince. (רבינו יונה)

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Mishlei 17-26 (Goodness) PDF version