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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 4

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 4

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 4

1. Children, hearken to the discipline of the Father, and listen to know understanding.   א. שִׁמְעוּ בָנִים מוּסַר אָב וְהַקְשִׁיבוּ לָדַעַת בִּינָה:
Children, hearken to the discipline of the Father: The Holy One, blessed be He.  
2. For I gave you good teaching; forsake not My instruction.   ב. כִּי לֶקַח טוֹב נָתַתִּי לָכֶם תּוֹרָתִי אַל תַּעֲזֹבוּ:
For I gave you: The prophet prophesies and speaks as an agent of the Holy One, blessed be He, and he is like His mouth.  
3. For I was a son to my father, a tender one and an only one before my mother.   ג. כִּי בֵן הָיִיתִי לְאָבִי רַךְ וְיָחִיד לִפְנֵי אִמִּי:
For I was a son to my father: Lest you say that Solomon hated people because he admonished them concerning robbery and immorality, something a person desires, he therefore states: I was a son, etc., a tender one and an only one, etc., that he loved me very much.  
4. And he instructed me and said to me, "May your heart draw near to my words; keep my commandments and live.   ד. וַיֹּרֵנִי וַיֹּאמֶר לִי יִתְמָךְ דְּבָרַי לִבֶּךָ שְׁמֹר מִצְו‍ֹתַי וֶחְיֵה:
And he instructed me: concerning that and he chastised me.  
and said to me, "May your heart draw near to my words: And since he chastened me with these words, therefore I admonish you concerning this (Rabbi Joseph Kara). Another explanation:  
For I was a son to my Father: The prophet says, “I was a son to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who caused His spirit to rest upon me.” Now we find that the Holy One, blessed be He, called Solomon a son, for it is stated (II Sam. 7:14): “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to Me a son.”  
a tender one and an only one before my mother: Heb. לפני אמי, before my nation (אמתי) I am chosen and beloved like a tender and only son. Therefore, my father instructed me.  
5. Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.   ה. קְנֵה חָכְמָה קְנֵה בִינָה אַל תִּשְׁכַּח וְאַל תֵּט מֵאִמְרֵי פִי:
6. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her and she will guard you.   ו. אַל תַּעַזְבֶהָ וְתִשְׁמְרֶךָּ אֱהָבֶהָ וְתִצְּרֶךָּ:
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her: Heb. אהבה, love her.  
7. The beginning of wisdom [is to] acquire wisdom, and with all your possession acquire understanding.   ז. רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה קְנֵה חָכְמָה וּבְכָל קִנְיָנְךָ קְנֵה בִינָה:
The beginning of wisdom [is to] acquire wisdom: At the beginning of your wisdom, learn from others and acquire for yourself the tradition from the mouth of the teacher, and afterwards with all your possession acquire understanding. Concentrate on it by yourself to understand the reasons, thereby deriving one thing from another.  
8. Search for her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you when you embrace her.   ח. סַלְסְלֶהָ וּתְרוֹמְמֶךָּ תְּכַבֵּדְךָ כִּי תְחַבְּקֶנָּה:
Search for her: Heb. סלסלה search for her. Review it to examine it minutely, as in (Jer. 6:9): “as a vintager over the searchings (סלסלות)” who goes repeatedly through the vineyard and brings back his hand to search for the single grapes. In the expression of the Sages (Rosh Hashanah 26b), curls (מסלסל) his hair.  
9. She will give your head a wreath of grace; she will transmit to you a crown of glory.   ט. תִּתֵּן לְרֹאשְׁךָ לִוְיַת חֵן עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת תְּמַגְּנֶךָּ:
She will give your head a wreath of grace: Heb. לוית חן, a wreath of grace, as in (1:9): “They are a wreath of grace (לוית חן) for your head.”  
10. Hearken, my son, and take my words, and years of life will increase for you.   י. שְׁמַע בְּנִי וְקַח אֲמָרָי וְיִרְבּוּ לְךָ שְׁנוֹת חַיִּים:
11. In the way of wisdom I instructed you; I led you in the paths of uprightness.   יא. בְּדֶרֶךְ חָכְמָה הֹרֵתִיךָ הִדְרַכְתִּיךָ בְּמַעְגְּלֵי ישֶׁר:
12. When you walk, your step will not be straitened, and if you run, you will not stumble.   יב. בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לֹא יֵצַר צַעֲדֶךָ וְאִם תָּרוּץ לֹא תִכָּשֵׁל:
When you walk, your step will not be straightened: One who does not spread out his legs is likely to fall.  
13. Take fast hold of discipline, do not let it loose; guard it, for it is your life.   יג. הַחֲזֵק בַּמּוּסָר אַל תֶּרֶף נִצְּרֶהָ כִּי הִיא חַיֶּיךָ:
Take fast hold of discipline, do not let it loose: Grasp the Torah, as in (Gen. 21:18) “and grasp (והחזיקי) your hand onto him” ; (Ex. 4:4) “and he stretched out his hand and grasped it (ויחזק).”  
14. You shall not come in the way of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.   יד. בְּאֹרַח רְשָׁעִים אַל תָּבֹא וְאַל תְּאַשֵּׁר בְּדֶרֶךְ רָעִים:
You shall not come in the way of the wicked, and do not walk: [as translated,] do not walk, as in (Job 23:11), “My foot has held to His path,” and as in (Proverbs 14:15), “but a cunning man understands his steps.”  
15. Avoid it, do not pass through it; turn away from it and pass.   טו. פְּרָעֵהוּ אַל תַּעֲבָר בּוֹ שְׂטֵה מֵעָלָיו וַעֲבוֹר:
Avoid it: Heb. פרע, put it to naught.  
turn away from it: Heb. שטה, turn away.  
16. For they will not sleep if they do not commit evil, and their sleep will be robbed away if they do not cause stumbling.   טז. כִּי לֹא יִשְׁנוּ אִם לֹא יָרֵעוּ וְנִגְזְלָה שְׁנָתָם אִם לֹא יַכְשִׁולוּ יַכְשִׁילוּ:
For they will not sleep: They are unable to sleep.  
17. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and they drink the wine of violence.   יז. כִּי לָחֲמוּ לֶחֶם רֶשַׁע וְיֵין חֲמָסִים יִשְׁתּוּ:
18. But the way of the righteous is like the light of dawn; it shines ever brighter until the day is perfect.   יח. וְאֹרַח צַדִּיקִים כְּאוֹר נֹגַהּ הוֹלֵךְ וָאוֹר עַד נְכוֹן הַיּוֹם:
But the way of the righteous is like the light of dawn: which shines and illuminates from the first ray of dawn.  
until the day is perfect: Until midday, which is the brightest time of day.  
19. The way of the wicked is like pitch darkness; they do not know on what they stumble.   יט. דֶּרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים כָּאֲפֵלָה לֹא יָדְעוּ בַּמֶּה יִכָּשֵׁלוּ:
The way of the wicked is like pitch darkness; they do not know on what they stumble: Suddenly, an obstacle will come to them, and they will not know how to beware of it.  
20. My son, hearken to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.   כ. בְּנִי לִדְבָרַי הַקְשִׁיבָה לַאֲמָרַי הַט אָזְנֶךָ:
21. Let them not depart from your eyes; guard them within your heart,   כא. אַל יַלִּיזוּ מֵעֵינֶיךָ שָׁמְרֵם בְּתוֹךְ לְבָבֶךָ:
22. for they are life for those who find them, and for all his flesh a healing.   כב. כִּי חַיִּים הֵם לְמֹצְאֵיהֶם וּלְכָל בְּשָׂרוֹ מַרְפֵּא:
for those who find them: Heb. למצאיהם, an expression of finding.  
23. From every interdict guard your heart, for the issues of life [come] out of it.   כג. מִכָּל מִשְׁמָר נְצֹר לִבֶּךָ כִּי מִמֶּנּוּ תּוֹצְאוֹת חַיִּים:
From every interdict: From whatever the Torah commanded to beware of, guard your heart (from transgressing), regardless whether it is a minor sin or a grave sin.  
for the issues of life [come] out of it: For from even a minor one you shall have life and a great reward if you fulfill it-so did Rabbi Tanhuma expound.  
24. Take crooked speech away from yourself, and put devious lips far away from you.   כד. הָסֵר מִמְּךָ עִקְּשׁוּת פֶּה וּלְזוּת שְׂפָתַיִם הַרְחֵק מִמֶּךָּ:
Take crooked speech away from yourself: Don’t do anything for which people will slander you and make their mouths crooked [when talking] about you.  
crooked speech: Heb. עקשות. This is an expression of עקום, crooked, as in (Job 9:20): “Though I was innocent, He would prove me perverse (ויעקשני) ,” and in the Mishnah (Hullin 3: 3) “its teeth are crooked and twisted (עקושות).”  
devious lips: Crooked lips, that the people should not open their mouth wide [when talking] about you.  
25. Let your eyes look forward, and let your eyelids look straight ahead of you.   כה. עֵינֶיךָ לְנֹכַח יַבִּיטוּ וְעַפְעַפֶּיךָ יַיְשִׁרוּ נֶגְדֶּךָ:
Let your eyes look forward: Let them look to truth and uprightness.  
and let your eyelids look straight ahead of you: Let them look at what is upright, to straighten your way before you.  
26. Weigh the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.   כו. פַּלֵס מַעְגַּל רַגְלֶךָ וְכָל דְּרָכֶיךָ יִכֹּנוּ:
Weigh the path of your feet: Weigh your way: the loss of a commandment against its reward and the reward of a sin against its loss, and then all your ways will be established.  
27. Turn neither right nor left; keep your feet from evil.   כז. אַל תֵּט יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול הָסֵר רַגְלְךָ מֵרָע:
Turn neither right nor left: of the good weight.  
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