Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
PROVERBS CHAPTER 16
V 1: "The preparations of the heart are man's, but the answer of the tongue is from HaShem." When we arouse ourselves from below (HIS'ORERUS D'L'TATA) and strive to order and better ourselves, this evokes an arousal from Above (HISORERUS D'L'EIYLA).
V 2: "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but HaShem weighs the spirits." It is very hard for a person to acknowledge that his attitudes and behavior may be wrong. But God knows the truth as to who is good and who is not (Rashi), for He is INSIDE the spirit/soul of each person. The Hebrew word rendered as "weighs", TOKHEIN, is from the root TOKH, which means "within" (Metzudas David).
V 3: "Commit your works to God" - pray to Him about everything you need, and this will give a sound basis to all your thoughts, ideas and plans (Rashi).
V 4: God made everything to reveal His might and glory - even the evil day that befalls the villain reflects glory on God.
V 7: "When God is pleased with a man's ways, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" - including his own wife!!! (Bereishis Rabbah 54). If a person wants domestic harmony, the key is for him to put all his effort into serving God.
V 10: "There is a magic (KESSEM) on the lips of a king; in judgment his mouth will not err." The "king" is the sage, when he sits in judgment. If he is a true sage, God gives him intuitive understanding of where the truth is to be found. KESSEM here is a kind of power of divination, the ability to guess right.
V 11: "A just balance and scales are God's: all the weights of the bag are His work." The merchants of old had bags containing a variety of weights in order to measure out different quantities. God has every kind of weight and measure, to pay each person exactly according to his behavior (Rashi; Metzudas David).
V 14: "The wrath of the King is like messengers of death, but a wise man will pacify it." Every Jew needs to be connected to a true sage, who through his great humility has the power to appease God and bring atonement (cf. Likutey Moharan I, 4).
V 17: "The highway of the upright (MESILLAT YESHARIM) is to depart from evil." The phrase Mesillat Yesharim, "Path of the Just", was chosen by the outstanding sage Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (1707-47) as the title of his outstanding moralistic classic on the path of ascent to true service of God.
V 18: "Pride goes before destruction." This was so in the case of Haman in ancient Persia , and it will be so in the case of the latter-day Hamans now governing the same country.
V 20: "He who gives heed to the word will find good." - "One who considers his words carefully and weighs his pathways will find good" (Rashi). ".and happy is the one who trusts in God" - "When he weighs his pathways and sees that he has the opportunity to perform a mitzvah that involves some danger or monetary loss, if he trusts in God and does good, he will succeed" (Rashi).
V 24: "Pleasant words (=words of Torah, Rashi) are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones." - We have the power to influence the health of our bodies through the very words we speak.
V 28: "A froward man sows strife, and a whisperer separates a leader (ALOOPH)." When a person distorts the meaning of what was said, he stirs up strife among people (Metzudas David). Rashi interprets the "leader" as God: as a result of a person's complaints, he separates the Ruler of the world from himself.
V 31: The practice of charity lengthens one's days (Rashi).
V 33: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its whole disposition is from God" - Man may cast lots, but it is God who determines the outcome and the share that each will receive. Thus when the Land of Israel was divided among the tribes, it was done through casting lots, and thus each tribe received their proper portion.
V 1: Rashi comments on this verse: "It was better for the Holy One blessed be He to destroy His Temple and His city so as to be at peace from Israel 's sins, because they used to offer the sacrifices of strife in His House."
V 2: "A servant that deals wisely shall have rule over a son that deals shamefully, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brothers." Rashi says that the "servant who deals wisely" is the GER TZEDEK ("righteous convert"). He is better than a home-born villain! And in time to come the converts will have a share of the inheritance among the Children of Israel (cf. Ezekiel 47:23).
V 3: "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but God tries the hearts." The tests that God takes people through can be a refining through fire.
V 8: "When a person comes before God and placates Him with words and returns to Him, this is a precious stone and a pearl in His eyes, and in whatever the person asks of God, He will give him success" (Rashi).
V 9: It is better to overlook the bad things people may do to one and not to try to take vengeance, because by constantly harping on their evil he causes God - who commanded us not to nurse a grudge or take vengeance - to depart from him (Rashi).
V 15: "One who justifies the wicked, and one who condemns the righteous, are both an abomination to God." Both ills are also very prevalent in the public media today.
V 16: What use is it for a person to acquire the wisdom of the Torah if he does not intend to observe the Torah and studies only to acquire a name for himself? (Rashi).
V 17: Rashi's rendition of the verse is: Always show love to friends in order to acquire people who will love you, for in a time of trouble, your friend will be "born" and become a brother who will help you and take a share in your sorrow.
V 18: Agreeing to be a guarantor in some financial transaction is not considered wise. Rashi interprets the handshake as that of someone who "shakes hands" with the heretics in order to go in their ways when he has already made a guarantee to God (in the Sinaitic Covenant) to observe His commandments.
V 19: ".One who exalts his gate seeks destruction." "Exalting one's gate" means speaking arrogantly (Rashi).
V 22: "A merry heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." This is the Torah path of healing in a nutshell.
V 24: "Wisdom is before one who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth." Rashi comments: The fool says, "Wisdom is not available near at hand, because it is very far from me. How will I ever be able to learn all thirty chapters of the Mishnaic order of Damages (the 3 Bavas), the thirty chapters of Tractate KELIM (the tractate on purity and impurity of vessels), the twenty-four chapters of Tractate Shabbos.?" But for the wise man it is something easy. Today he studies two chapters and tomorrow another two, and says: This is what those who were before me always did.
V 26: "The Holy One blessed be He never said to wipe Israel from the Land, for it is not good in His eyes to punish all of them" (Rashi).
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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