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Mishlei 21-15


Key Concepts

Justice is not welcomed everywhere, and that is because it puts all people to a test. Those who pass the test are happy to have experienced it, whereas those who fail live in trepidation that their sins or their crimes may be exposed.

A righteous person (tzadik) is happy to live in a community where justice rules. Since his conscience is clear the tzadik is able to enjoy the benefits of justice without fear. In contrast, evil doers always need to be on guard to avoid being accused of an offense.

Exploring Mishlei

טו = שִׂמְחָה לַצַּדִּיק עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וּמְחִתָּה לְפֹעֲלֵי אָוֶן

(15) The implementation of justice brings joy to the righteous,
but it is terrifying to evildoers

The tzadik finds joy in a world of justice because it is a world that pleases Hashem. Therefore, the tzadik takes pleasure in working within the justice system to correct wrongs. In contrast, the evil doer finds a world of justice unpredictable. In such a world his crimes may be exposed, and he can be accused at any time of one crime or another.

Learning Mishlei

(15) Joy to the tzadik שִׂמְחָה לַצַּדִּיק
is the implementation of justice. עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט
But it is terrifying —
to evil doers
לְפֹעֲלֵי אָוֶן.

Additional Insights

[1] A world of justice gives joy to Hashem because it cleanses the righteous of their sins and enables them to be rewarded. (רש”י)

[2] A world of justice is disturbing to the evildoers of the world because they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to do teshuvah (repent) and so any suffering that they experience is wasted. (רש”י)

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