Proverbs – Chapter 29

Snap!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

A person whose acts require correction, but who is too stubborn to accept words of reproof, will find himself suddenly broken. The people benefit from righteous leadership, but evil rulers cause them to sigh from their troubles. A son who pursues wisdom pleases his father, but one who pursues women of questionable morals wastes his family fortune. (Rashi says the metaphor is for one who picks and chooses – “I like these laws, so I’ll accept them, but not these…”) A king may establish his nation with righteousness, but arrogant judges can tear it all down by refusing to listen to the litigants.

A person who flatters his friend lays a trap for him. The evil are also caught in a trap, but the righteous are spared and rejoice. Righteous people know the needs of the poor, but the wicked are willfully oblivious. Angry people can embroil an entire city in controversy, but wise people can inspire the people to improve their ways, thus turning aside G-d’s wrath. When a wise man debates with a foolish man, whether done in anger or with laughter, it will not be satisfactory – either way the fool will remain a fool! (Rashi brings examples of Kings Achaz and Amatzya. Whether G-d permitted them to defeat their enemies or be defeated, those kings persisted in their idolatry.)

Violent people hate the innocent, but righteous people watch our for their spiritual needs. (So interprets Rashi, though he acknowledges that others read this verse differently.) A fool lets it all out, but a wise man carefully chooses his words. A king who listens to lies will find himself surrounded by servants all too happy to take advantage of that flaw. Through the education process, G-d enlightens both the student and the teacher.

Correcting someone’s behavior will make him wiser; letting a child run wild does him a disservice. When wicked people reign, there is chaos, but the righteous can outlast the evil regime. In Solomon’s future (our past), the people would cause prophecy to cease. Without this guidance, their standards will slip, but one who keeps the Torah can remain true to G-d. People do not often change their ways based on words alone; even though they understand, they are not motivated without some repercussion.

You have a better chance of educating a fool than you do a person who is quick to speak. If you pamper your urge to indulge yourself, it will rule you instead of the other way around. Angry people cause arguments and their anger leads them to sin. Arrogant people will be humbled by their own egos, but modest people will be honored. An accomplice to a crime must hate himself or he wouldn’t get involved in someone else’s evil. People seek out the ruler to judge their cases, but the judge’s power of insight comes from G-d. The righteous hate evil and the wicked hate goodness.

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