Proverbs – Chapter 4

Weight Watchers

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Solomon asks the reader to listen to discipline that G-d has instructed us; by doing so, we will become wiser. G-d gave us the Torah, which is all good, so we should not ignore it. Solomon doesn’t want the reader to think that he’s some sort of cold-hearted rules freak, so he speaks autobiographically: he was once a son to his father. As the only son of his mother, he was especially beloved by his parents, but they still had to discipline him on occasion to correct his behavior and ensure that he grew up well. It was Solomon’s father, David, who enjoined him to keep the Torah and to acquire wisdom. Just as David rebuked Solomon out of love, Solomon teaches us from the same motivation.

The first step in becoming wise is to go out and get wisdom. First you have to know what others have said, so you’ll need a teacher. So, get busy looking for wisdom and your efforts will be repaid many times over. Follow the path of Torah and you’ll always walk safely and never fall, even when you break into a run. Hold tight to Torah as if your life depends on it, because it does.

The ones who love evil are so bothered if they are unable to commit acts against others that it keeps them awake at night. Everything they eat is acquired through robbery and oppression. This is no way to live. The path the righteous follow is bright like the dawn and its light only increases. Don’t follow the dark path of evil – eventually you’ll stumble and you won’t even see what tripped you.

And so, follow the teachings that Solomon will impart, as they are a source of life and healing. Keep away from things that are prohibited, as they are a danger to you. Give up gossip and slander and keep your eyes on the prize. Follow the path and do not deviate. If you do, you’ll be safe from all evil influences.

In the closing verses, Solomon tells us to “weigh” our choices. Rashi explains this to mean that we must calculate the effort of a mitzva against the value of its reward and the temptation of a sin against the cost of its penalty. If we always do this, we will always come to make the right choices.

Download Audio File