Avraham ben Yaakov


V 1: "He who is separated will seek his own desire; in all sound wisdom he will be revealed." Rashi: "One who is separated from the Holy One blessed be He so as not to guard His commandments chases after the desire of his heart and his evil inclination. And in the end his shame will be revealed among the sages. Our rabbis darshened that this refers to Lot, who separated himself from Abraham, but in the end, his shame is revealed in the synagogues and study halls, for 'The Ammonite and Moabite [ Lot 's descendants] may not enter the assembly' (Deut. 24:4)".

V 2: The fool does not desire true understanding but only the fantasies produced by his own heart.

V 4: "The words of a MAN's mouth are deep waters" - Rashi: Where the word ISH (=man) is used in the Bible, it refers to a man of great might. "A flowing brook, a fountain of wisdom": Rabbi Nachman of Breslov took great pride in the fact that the initial letters of the last four Hebrew words of this verse are an acronym of the name Nachman: Nachal Nove'a Mekor Chokhmah!

V 5: "It is not good to respect the person of the wicked and to turn aside the righteous in judgment." Besides the plain meaning of the text, the sages darshened that it is not good for the wicked to be shown forbearance for their evil in this world since they are then punished for it in the next, while the righteous are punished for their sins in this world in order to attain the life of the world to come (Yoma 87a; Rashi).

V 6: "A fool's lips enter into contention and his mouth calls for strokes." A fool constantly accuses others but the effect is that his mouth calls out for suffering to be brought down upon himself (Rashi).

V 9: "Even one who is slack in his work is a brother to the destroyer." When a Torah student is slack in his studies, he comes to distort and forget the Torah.

V 10: "The Name of HaShem is a tower of strength; the righteous runs with it and is set on high." It is remarkable that a mere word or name could give such strength and protection. Even more remarkable is that one who takes refuge in a mighty physical tower is closed up in it and cannot go anywhere, but when the Tzaddik depends on the name of HaShem, he can run wherever he wants and still take strength there in God's name (Metzudas David).

Vv 11-12: Unlike the Tzaddik, who trusts in God, the rich man takes refuge in his wealth, but if he is haughty because of it, this can lead to his destruction (Rabbenu Yonah).

V 13: "When one gives an answer about something before he has heard it out, this is folly and a disgrace to him." Unfortunately this characterizes the level of much discussion of serious issues over wide areas of the contemporary media and education system, not to speak about most discussion in the "street".

V 14: "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a broken spirit who can bear?" Man's soul has the power to strengthen him in face of the illnesses of the body, for the soul governs the body in health and even in illness, but if the soul is weak and broken because of sorrow and depression, the body is unable to strengthen it (Metzudas David). Mind over matter!

V 16: "A man's gift makes room for him." Besides the simple meaning, this teaches that when one gives charity, it widens his share in the world to come (Rashi).

V 17: "He who pleads his cause first seems just, but his neighbor comes and searches him out." The first person to put his case often sounds right. The judge must be very careful not to allow himself to be influenced by his arguments without first balancing them with the arguments of the other side.

V 21: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Every one of us should take this verse to heart and put a strong rein on our tongues.

V 22: "One who finds a wife finds a great good." Besides the plain meaning of the verse, the "woman" also refers to the Torah (Rashi).

V 24: Rashi: "When a person acquires friends for himself, the day will yet come when he will need them and they will draw him near. And if you say, 'So what?' know that sometimes a friend is closer than a brother and reaches out to one more than one's relatives and brothers."


V 2: "Also the soul that is without knowledge is not good." - "It is not good for a man to be without Torah" (Rashi). "And he who hastens with his feet is a sinner" - "The sinner tramples on sins underfoot saying, 'This is an insignificant matter and I can transgress'" (Rashi).

V 3: "A man's folly perverts his way and his heart frets against God." - "It is through his own sin that evil comes upon a person because in his folly he perverts his way and transgresses, with the result that he is punished. But when the trouble strikes, he frets against God, questioning His justice!" (Rashi).

V 4: One who is wealthy in Torah also gains many friends.

V 6: "This can be interpreted as referring to those who give charity, and it can also be interpreted as referring to those who teach and spread the Torah."

V 7: "All the brothers of the poor hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him. He that pursues words - they turn against him." - "He says, So-and-so and so-and-so are my relatives; so-and-so and so-and-so are my friends, but all his words are emptiness" (Rashi). Name-dropping does not help!

V 8: "He who acquires heart loves his own soul." - "Because the knowledge of God is in the heart, the verse says that one who acquires heart loves his own soul" (Metzudas David).

V 12: "The king's wrath is like the roaring of a lion." - "The 'king' is the Holy One blessed be He (Rashi).

V 16: "One who despises his ways shall die" - "because he does not set his heart to weigh them" (Rashi).

V 17: "When a person is ill and near death, his charity pleads on his behalf before the attribute of Judgment, saying, 'That poor man's soul was about to leave his body because of hunger, but this man fed him and brought it back into his body; I too shall give him back his soul'" (Rashi).

V 19: "A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment, but if you save, you shall yet add" - "If you set aside your anger and save your enemy when you see that evil has come upon him, you shall yet add days and goodness to your life" (Rashi).

V 22: "The desire for a man is on account of his kindness." - the main reason why people love a person is because of his kindness.".and a poor man is better than a man of deceit" - If a person promises but does not carry out his promise, a poor man is better than him (Rashi).

V 25: "When you strike the scorner, the simple will become prudent." - "On seeing the plagues visited on Pharaoh and the war against Amalek, Jethro became wise and converted!" (Rashi).



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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