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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 25

Mishlei - Proverbs - Chapter 25

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 25

1. These too are Solomon's proverbs, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, maintained.   א. גַּם אֵלֶּה מִשְׁלֵי שְׁלֹמֹה אֲשֶׁר הֶעְתִּיקוּ אַנְשֵׁי חִזְקִיָּה מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה:
These too are Solomon’s proverbs, which… maintained: When Hezekiah was appointed king, he returned to expound upon them [Solomon’s proverbs]. Now he placed disciples in every city, as it is stated in Chapter “Chelek” (Sanh. 94b): “They searched from Dan to Beersheba and could not find an ignoramus.”  
maintained: Heb. העתיקו they strengthened.  
2. The honor of God is to conceal a matter, whereas the honor of kings is to search out a matter.   ב. כְּבֹד אֱלֹהִים הַסְתֵּר דָּבָר וּכְבֹד מְלָכִים חֲקֹר דָּבָר:
The honor of God is to conceal a matter: For instance, the account of the Merkavah and the account of the Creation.  
whereas the honor of kings is to search out a matter: When you expound on the honor of the Sages and on the safeguards that they enacted to the Torah, and on the decrees that they decreed upon them, you should search, seek, and ask the reason for the matter. When you expound on the account of the Merkavah or on the account of the Creation, or on the statutes written in the Torah-like the statutes and things that Satan denounces and refutes, such as eating pork, mingled species in a vineyard, and shaatnes-you should not search, but only conceal [the reason] and say, “It is the King’s decree.”  
3. The heaven for height, the earth for depth, and the honor of kings are unsearchable.   ג. שָׁמַיִם לָרוּם וָאָרֶץ לָעֹמֶק וְלֵב מְלָכִים אֵין חֵקֶר:
are unsearchable: The height of the heaven and the depth of the earth and the heart of kings are unsearchable, for many judgments come before them, as well as many wars, and they must apply their heart to all of them. And if all tongues would speak, and all hands would write, they would not be able to inscribe the intricacy of political government.  
4. Remove dross from silver, and a vessel emerges for the refiner.   ד. הָגוֹ סִיגִים מִכָּסֶף וַיֵּצֵא לַצֹּרֵף כֶּלִי:
Remove dross from silver: Heb. הגו, draw away, as in (II Sam. 20:13): “When he was removed (הגה) from the highway.” Just as the silver vessel does not emerge for the work of the refiner until the copper dross is removed from it, similarly, the community cannot be freed from punishment until they remove the wicked from their midst and execute judgment upon them.  
5. Remove the wicked man before the king, and his throne will be established with righteousness.   ה. הָגוֹ רָשָׁע לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ וְיִכּוֹן בַּצֶּדֶק כִּסְאוֹ:
6. Do not glorify yourself before a king, and do not stand in the place of great men;   ו. אַל תִּתְהַדַּר לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ וּבִמְקוֹם גְּדֹלִים אַל תַּעֲמֹד:
Do not glorify yourself before a king: to show your honor and to be proud before one who is greater than you, because it is better that they say to you, “Come up here,” than that you should go without his permission, and they should tell you, “Go down, get out.”  
7. for it is better that he say to you, "Come up here," than to humble you before a prince, as your eyes have seen.   ז. כִּי טוֹב אֲמָר לְךָ עֲלֵה הֵנָּה מֵהַשְׁפִּילְךָ לִפְנֵי נָדִיב אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ עֵינֶיךָ:
as your eyes have seen: that this thing is true.  
8. Do not go out quickly to quarrel lest [you will not know] what you will do at its end, when your friend puts you to shame.   ח. אַל תֵּצֵא לָרִב מַהֵר פֶּן מַה תַּעֲשֶׂה בְּאַחֲרִיתָהּ בְּהַכְלִים אֹתְךָ רֵעֶךָ:
lest [you will not know] what you will do at its end: Lest you come to a situation that you will not know what to do at its end.  
9. Have your quarrel with your friend, but do not divulge another's secret   ט. רִיבְךָ רִיב אֶת רֵעֶךָ וְסוֹד אַחֵר אַל תְּגָל:
Have your quarrel with your friend: But if, perforce, you must quarrel and debate with your friend, in any event,  
do not divulge another’s secret: Do not mention to him the disgrace of his ancestors, which not everyone knows, and you are revealing it.  
10. lest one who hears embarrass you, and your slander cannot be taken back.   י. פֶּן יְחַסֶּדְךָ שֹׁמֵעַ וְדִבָּתְךָ לֹא תָשׁוּב:
lest one who hears embarrass you: Heb. יחסדך (Josh. 5:9) “The reproach of the Egyptians” is rendered: חסודא דמצראי. Lest one who hears embarrass you, and they will call you a slanderer.  
11. Like golden apples on silverplated vessels, is a word spoken with proper basis.   יא. תַּפּוּחֵי זָהָב בְּמַשְׂכִּיּוֹת כָּסֶף דָּבָר דָּבֻר עַל אָפְנָיו:
golden apples: Like knobs depicted on silverplated vessels.  
silverplated vessels: Heb. כסף משכיות, vessels plated with silver, as in (Ex. 33:22): “and I will cover (ושכתי) you with My hand.”  
a word spoken with proper basis: Heb. אפניו, on its basis. An example of it is (Ps. 88:16): “I bear your terrors, it is settled (אפונה) [in my heart],” based and settled within me. This is not from the root of (Isa. 28:27f): אפן and גלגל, wheel, for, were it so, it would be vowelized with a “pattach” under the “fe” as in (Ezek. 1:16) “ האופנים the wheels.” The vowelization of the short kamatz is inappropriate for it.  
12. Like a golden earring and jewelry of finest gold, is a wise man giving reproof to an ear that listens.   יב. נֶזֶם זָהָב וַחֲלִי כָתֶם מוֹכִיחַ חָכָם עַל אֹזֶן שֹׁמָעַת:
Like a golden earring and jewelry of finest gold: A collection of golden jewelry, as in (Hos. 2:15): “and adorned herself with her earrings and her jewelry (וחליתה) ,” and like (Song 7:3): “jewels (חלאים).”  
finest gold: Heb. כתם an expression of a golden ornament, and likewise (Song 5:11): “His head is as a jewel (כתם) of the finest gold.”  
13. Like the cold of snow on the day of harvest, is an emissary faithful to his sender, who refreshes his master's soul.   יג. כְּצִנַּת שֶׁלֶג בְּיוֹם קָצִיר צִיר נֶאֱמָן לְשֹׁלְחָיו וְנֶפֶשׁ אֲדֹנָיו יָשִׁיב:
Like the cold of snow: Like the cold of the days of snow (winter), for which a person longs at harvest, but not actual snow, because snow is not beneficial during harvest.  
14. Clouds and wind, but no rain-so is a man who boasts with a false gift.   יד. נְשִׂיאִים וְרוּחַ וְגֶשֶׁם אָיִן אִישׁ מִתְהַלֵּל בְּמַתַּת שָׁקֶר:
Clouds and wind, etc.: When there is a false hope-when the heavens thicken with clouds and the wind blows-people hope that it will rain. Now if it does not rain, they are troubled and their eyes languish. So is a man who boasts, saying, “So much and so much charity I will give to the collector,” but he lies, and the eyes of the poor languish for his gift, but it does not come.  
15. The Ruler is won over with slowness to anger, and a gentle tongue will break a bone.   טו. בְּאֹרֶךְ אַפַּיִם יִפֻתֶּה קָצִין וְלָשׁוֹן רַכָּה תִּשְׁבָּר גָּרֶם:
The Ruler is won over with slowness to anger: As long as the Holy One, blessed be He, holds back His anger and does not requite, the sinners will apply their hearts to win Him over with repentance and prayer.  
and a gentle tongue: with prayer and supplications.  
will break a bone: Heb. גרם a bone, the severity of the decree.  
16. If you have found honey, eat enough for you, lest you become sated with it and vomit it.   טז. דְּבַשׁ מָצָאתָ אֱכֹל דַּיֶּךָּ פֶּן תִּשְׂבָּעֶנּוּ וַהֲקֵאתוֹ:
If you have found honey, etc….:  
17. Visit your neighbor sparingly, lest he become sated with you and hate you.   יז. הֹקַר רַגְלְךָ מִבֵּית רֵעֶךָ פֶּן יִשְׂבָּעֲךָ וּשְׂנֵאֶךָ:
Visit your neighbor sparingly: Just as, if you find honey, and it is sweet to your palate, you must not eat [too much] of it lest you become sated with it and vomit it, so should you visit your neighbor sparingly, although he is from your midst [of your kin], refrain from going there daily lest he become sated with you and hate you. [Bracketed words appear in Salonica edition only.] According to its homiletic interpretation, do not accustom yourself to sin inadvertently and to constantly bring sin-offerings and guilt- offerings to the house of the Lord, Who is called a friend to Israel, as it is written (Song 5:16): “This is my beloved and this is my friend.”  
18. A man who testifies falsely against his friend is like a club, a sword, and a sharpened arrow.   יח. מֵפִיץ וְחֶרֶב וְחֵץ שָׁנוּן אִישׁ עֹנֶה בְרֵעֵהוּ עֵד שָׁקֶר:
like a club, a sword: Names of weapons.  
19. Like a broken tooth and an unsteady leg is trust in a traitor on a day of trouble.   יט. שֵׁן רֹעָה וְרֶגֶל מוּעָדֶת מִבְטָח בּוֹגֵד בְּיוֹם צָרָה:
a broken tooth: Heb. רעה, broken.  
unsteady: Heb. מועדת, as in (Ps. 18: 37): “and my ankles have not slipped (מעדו).”  
trust in a traitor: He disappoints him on the day of his trouble like a broken tooth and an unsteady [foot].  
20. A worn-out garment on a cold day is like vinegar on chalk, and so is one who sings songs to a broken heart.   כ. מַעֲדֶה בֶּגֶד בְּיוֹם קָרָה חֹמֶץ עַל נָתֶר וְשָׁר בַּשִּׁרִים עַל לֶב רָע:
A worn-out garment on a cold day: Heb. מעדה בגד, synonymous with (Isa. 64:5): “בגד עדים, a discarded garment,” a worn-out garment that is fit to be taken off since it is worn out, as we translate into Aramaic “ויסר” (Ex. 7:24) as ויעדי, and He shall remove. Now this is its interpretation: A worn-out garment on a cold day is like vinegar on chalk.  
chalk: Heb. נתר, a kind of soft earth, like our earth that is called creide, which they would hew and make vessels therefrom, and if vinegar falls on it, [the earth] is dissolved and ruined. So…  
is one who sings songs to a broken heart: [lit. on a bad heart. This one] resembles them both. Now what is one who sings songs? This is one who teaches the Torah to a wicked student, who has no intention in his heart to fulfill it.  
21. If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;   כא. אִם רָעֵב שׂנַאֲךָ הַאֲכִלֵהוּ לָחֶם וְאִם צָמֵא הַשְׁקֵהוּ מָיִם:
If your enemy is hungry: [to be explained] according to its apparent meaning. Our Rabbis, however, explained it as referring to the evil inclination. If he is hungry and tells you to sate him with sins, draw yourself into the study hall and feed him the bread of Torah, and likewise, give him the water of Torah to drink.  
22. for you will be scooping coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.   כב. כִּי גֶחָלִים אַתָּה חֹתֶה עַל רֹאשׁוֹ וַיהוָה יְשַׁלֶּם לָךְ:
for… coals: they are to him, that you are scooping from the fire to heap upon his head.  
scooping: Heb. חותה. Any scooping of coals from a fire is called חותה, as it is stated (Isa. 30:14): “to scoop (לחתות) fire from a hearth.”  
will reward you: Heb. ישלם לך, will cause him to make peace with you, that he should not overpower you.  
23. As the north wind begets rain, so a backbiting tongue [begets] an angry countenance.   כג. רוּחַ צָפוֹן תְּחוֹלֵל גָּשֶׁם וּפָנִים נִזְעָמִים לְשׁוֹן סָתֶר:
As the north wind begets rain: It begets and creates the rain.  
an angry countenance: A backbiting tongue begets [an angry countenance]. Slander causes the countenance of the Holy One, blessed be He, to be angry, and this is the comparison [of the interpretation] of the verse. [The bracketed words do not appear in the Salonica edition, which seems more correct than our edition.] The north wind is accustomed to beget rain and a backbiting tongue is accustomed to [beget] an angry countenance.  
24. It is better to sit on the corner of a roof than a quarrelsome wife and a house of companionship.   כד. טוֹב שֶׁבֶת עַל פִּנַּת גָּג מֵאֵשֶׁת מִדְוָנִים מִדְיָנִים וּבֵית חָבֶר:
It is better to sit on the corner of a roof: This is stated concerning the withdrawal of the Shechinah.  
than a quarrelsome wife: The nation of lsrael, who dealt wickedly and provoked the Holy One, blessed be He.  
and a house of companionship: A house in which they associated idolatry with the Shechinah.  
25. As cold water to a faint soul, so is good news from a distant country.   כה. מַיִם קָרִים עַל נֶפֶשׁ עֲיֵפָה וּשְׁמוּעָה טוֹבָה מֵאֶרֶץ מֶרְחָק:
to a faint soul: It [cold water] is accustomed to revive a faint soul.  
so is good news: That too is equal to it, and so was it with Jacob (Gen. 45:27): “And the spirit of Jacob their father was revived.”  
26. A righteous man slipping before a wicked man is like a muddied spring and a ruined fountain.   כו. מַעְיָן נִרְפָּשׂ וּמָקוֹר מָשְׁחָת צַדִּיק מָט לִפְנֵי רָשָׁע:
a muddied spring: Muddied by the feet.  
A righteous man slipping before a wicked man: When a righteous man slips before a wicked man and is afraid to reprove him for his way to his face, the matter is hateful like a muddied spring and a ruined fountain.  
27. Eating honey to excess is not good, but fathoming their honor is honor.   כז. אָכֹל דְּבַשׁ הַרְבּוֹת לֹא טוֹב וְחֵקֶר כְּבֹדָם כָּבוֹד:
Eating honey: To eat honey to excess. The topic symbolizes one who expounds on the account of the Merkavah and the account of the Creation to the public; the ignoramuses will ridicule the words and ask what is above and what is below.  
but fathoming their honor is honor: But when is fathoming appropriate? In the words of the Sages, whose honor is honor: We may ask why they decreed such and such a decree, and why they enacted a safeguard in each decree.  
28. Like a broken city without a wall, so is a man whose spirit is unrestrained.   כח. עִיר פְּרוּצָה אֵין חוֹמָה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֵין מַעְצָר לְרוּחוֹ:
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