Proverbs – Chapter 11

Inherit the Wind

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Remember the reference to inaccurate scales in the last chapter? Well, here Solomon tells us that false scales, used by a merchant in an attempt to overcharge customers, are anathema to G-d, Who desires honesty in dealings among His creatures. Those who willfully abuse others with this sort of trickery are disgraceful. Good people are led by their honesty, then crooks like this take advantage of them. The money these dishonest businessmen obtain will not enrich them, it will testify against them.

When an evil person dies, there’s no hope that his children will be supported in his merit, since he has no merit. The righteous person has no such worries. He will not succumb to flattery intended to lead him astray. When things go well for the righteous, everyone rejoices, since G-d rewards the entire city in their merit. The blessing of the upright metaphorically supports the ceiling of the Temple, while the deceit of the dishonest chips away at it. (In other words, the righteousness or dishonesty of the leadership has a tremendous impact on the fate of the nation.) If a person resents a wise and righteous neighbor, then he’s a fool. A wise person does not respond to slights.

More Proverbs: Violate a confidence? Then you’re a gossip. But if you’re a faithful person, you can keep things to yourself. If the nation doesn’t have a game plan, then they’re doomed, but if they have advisors, they will succeed. One who places his trust in a “stranger” (a metaphor for idolatry) will be disappointed. People who strengthen themselves draw closer to G-d and Torah. A good person benefits his family, but an evil person is a source of trouble to his loved ones. People who pretend to be upright, but who are secretly planning evil, are an abomination to G-d, Who desires sincerity in word and deed.

A beautiful woman who has gone astray (representing a scholar who has strayed from the path of Torah) is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout – the beauty is marred by the context. Righteous people only desire the good, while the desires of the wicked lead to destruction. A charitable person gains more than he spends, while one who refuses to give his share loses more than he saves. The generous person enriches both himself and others. A person who rebukes others does so because he wants to bring them closer to G-d. A person who seeks to harm his fellow man will find harm himself.

A person who relies on his money, rather than on his merits, will be disappointed. A lazy person neither works for a living nor tries to improve himself spiritually; he will inherit the wind (i.e., lots of nothing). A righteous person will eat the fruits of the tree of life and will inspire others. Both the righteous and the wicked will be paid according to their deeds.

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