Mishlei Appendix 05 – Attitude
“The activity of a tzadik is for life.
The outcome of the activity of the rasha is for failure.”
[Mishlei 10-16] Overall. A man’s pattern of behavior is governed by his overall attitude. Over time that attitude leans toward either serving Hashem or pleasing himself. At the positive extreme he is described as a righteous man (tzadik) and at the other extreme he is described as a wicked man (rasha).
“When the scoffer searches for wisdom there is none,
but knowledge comes easily to the man of understanding.”
[Mishlei 14-06] Learning. A person must have the right attitude if he wishes to learn any subject, but especially if the subject is the wisdom of the Torah. The attitude that is called for is one of humility and respect for what is being taught. The scoffer, who avoids learning will find that it is unavailable when he needs it. The man of understanding who has worked on acquiring wisdom and internalizing it will find it readily accessible.
“A joyful heart promotes physical well-being,
but an unhappy spirit dries out the bone.”
[Mishlei 17-22] Happiness. A person may think that if he only had money and power, he would surely be happy and healthy, and so he focuses his energies on gaining all the things that he doesn’t have. But he fails to realize that the steps he is taking to gain “the good life” are driving him to misery and unhappiness. He fails to appreciate that happiness is not measured by his possessions but by his attitude towards his own possessions and those of others.
“The words of a grumbler are like self-destructive blows
and they descend to the chambers of one’s innards.”
[Mishlei 18-08] Resentment. People who suffer from an attitude of resentment are continually overwhelmed by disappointment. They view themselves as victims who have been treated unfairly. Instead of appreciating the good things of life they focus on what they are missing. Instead of feeling gratitude for the benefits they have been granted they are embittered at being denied what they don’t have.
“A man’s spirit sustains him in his sickness;
but who can lift a depressed spirit”
[Mishlei 18-14] Depression. The relationship between mind and body is shrouded in mystery. Each depends on the other to some extent, but the mechanics are hidden from us. However, experience has shown that a positive mental attitude is critical in helping a person maintain physical health. Man has been created with this positive spiritual force, but he must nurture it by maintaining a positive outlook through positive thoughts. The opposite of such a positive attitude is experienced as a state of depression. If the spirit is depressed for whatever reason, it will be very difficult for the person to turn his life around. He cannot rely on mere physical health to do it for him.