Chapter 18

1He who is separated seeks lust; in all sound wisdom, he is exposed.   אלְֽתַאֲוָה יְבַקֵּ֣שׁ נִפְרָ֑ד בְּכָל־תּ֜וּשִׁיָּ֗ה יִתְגַּלָּֽע:
He who is separated seeks lust: He who is separated from the Holy One, blessed be He, not keeping His precepts, pursues the lust of his heart and his evil inclination, and finally…  
in all sound wisdom, he is exposed: Among the wise, his disgrace will be revealed. Our Sages expounded this as referring to Lot, who separated from Abraham because of the lust of his heart, as it is stated (Gen. 13:11): “And Lot chose for himself the entire plain of the Jordan, etc.” This whole verse is stated concerning adultery. His end was that his shame was exposed in the synagogues and in the study halls, [when people read] (Deut. 23:4): “Neither an Ammonite nor a Moabite may enter [the congregation of the Lord].”  
2A fool does not delight in understanding, but in revealing his heart.   בלֹֽא־יַחְפֹּ֣ץ כְּ֖סִיל בִּתְבוּנָ֑ה כִּ֜֗י אִֽם־בְּהִתְגַּלּ֥וֹת לִבּֽוֹ:
but in revealing his heart: But in the revelation of his heart. He wishes to reveal what is in his heart.  
3When a wicked man comes, there also comes contempt, and with disdain, provocation.   גבְּֽבוֹא־רָ֖שָׁע בָּ֣א גַם־בּ֑וּז וְֽעִם־קָל֥וֹן חֶרְפָּֽה:
and with disdain: disgrace comes. He who chooses disdain and adultery-it is a disgrace for him.  
4The words of a man's mouth are like deep water; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing stream.   דמַ֣יִם עֲ֖מֻקִּים דִּבְרֵ֣י פִי־אִ֑ישׁ נַ֥חַל נֹ֜בֵ֗עַ מְק֣וֹר חָכְמָֽה:
the wellspring of wisdom: is like a flowing stream and like deep water.  
The words of a man’s mouth: Heb. איש. Every instance of איש in Scripture is an expression of a mighty man, one who is great in might.  
5It is not good to be partial to the wicked, to subvert the righteous in judgment.   השְׂאֵ֣ת פְּנֵי־רָשָׁ֣ע לֹא־ט֑וֹב לְהַטּ֥וֹת צַ֜דִּ֗יק בַּמִּשְׁפָּֽט:
It is not good to be partial to the wicked: As our Sages explained: It is not good for the wicked, that they are favored in this world and are requited in the next world.  
to subvert the righteous in judgment: It is good for the righteous that the scale is weighed down for them to make them guilty in this world, where they are requited during their lifetime, and they merit the world to come. Its simple meaning, however, is according to its apparent meaning.  
6The lips of a fool will enter a quarrel, and his mouth calls out for blows.   ושִׂפְתֵ֣י כְ֖סִיל יָבֹ֣אֽוּ בְרִ֑יב וּ֜פִ֗יו לְֽמַהֲלֻמ֥וֹת יִקְרָֽא:
The lips of a fool will enter a quarrel: All his matters come about with an expression of quarreling.  
and his mouth calls out for blows: He calls pains to come upon himself.  
7A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare for himself.   זפִּֽי־כְ֖סִיל מְחִתָּה־ל֑וֹ וּ֜שְׂפָתָ֗יו מוֹקֵ֥שׁ נַפְשֽׁוֹ:
8The words of a grumbler are like blows, and they descend into the inmost parts.   חדִּבְרֵ֣י נִ֖רְגָּן כְּמִֽתְלַהֲמִ֑ים וְ֜הֵ֗ם יָרְד֥וּ חַדְרֵי־בָֽטֶן:
The words of a grumbler are like blows: Heb. כמתלהמים.  
9Even one who is slack in his work is akin to the destroyer.   טגַּם מִתְרַפֶּ֣ה בִמְלַאכְתּ֑וֹ אָ֥ח ה֜֗וּא לְבַ֣עַל מַשְׁחִֽית:
Even one who is slack in his work: If he is a Torah scholar who separated himself from the Torah.  
to the destroyer: To Satan.  
10The name of the Lord is a tower of strength; the righteous runs into it and is strengthened.   ימִגְדַּל־עֹ֖ז שֵׁ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה בּֽוֹ־יָר֖וּץ צַדִּ֣יק וְנִשְׂגָּֽב:
The name of the Lord is a tower of strength; the righteous runs into it and is strengthened: Heb. ונשגב.  
11A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a strong wall in his chamber.   יאה֣וֹן עָ֖שִׁיר קִרְיַ֣ת עֻזּ֑וֹ וּכְחוֹמָ֥ה נִ֜שְׂגָּבָ֗ה בְּמַשְׂכִּיתֽוֹ:
and like a strong wall: his wealth is to him in his chambers. Since the house is paved with a floor of stones that cover the earth, it is called אבן משכית, a covering stone.  
12Before ruin, a man's heart becomes haughty, but before honor there is humility.   יבלִפְנֵי־שֶׁ֖בֶר יִגְבַּ֣הּ לֵב־אִ֑ישׁ וְלִפְנֵ֖י כָב֣וֹד עֲנָוָֽה:
13He who answers a word before he understands-it is foolishness for him and an embarrassment.   יגמֵשִׁ֣יב דָּ֖בָר בְּטֶ֣רֶם יִשְׁמָ֑ע אִוֶּ֥לֶת הִיא־ל֜֗וֹ וּכְלִמָּֽה:
14A man's spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit-who will bear it?   ידרֽוּחַ־אִ֖ישׁ יְכַלְכֵּ֣ל מַחֲלֵ֑הוּ וְר֥וּחַ נְ֜כֵאָ֗ה מִ֣י יִשָּׂאֶֽנָּה:
A man’s spirit: The spirit of a גבר, who is a mighty man, does not take worry to heart, but accepts with joy and love whatever befalls him.  
will sustain his illness: He does not lose his strength.  
15An understanding heart will acquire knowledge, and the ear of the wise will seek knowledge.   טולֵ֣ב נָ֖בוֹן יִקְנֶה־דָּ֑עַת וְאֹ֥זֶן חֲ֜כָמִ֗ים תְּבַקֶּשׁ־דָּֽעַת:
16A man's gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.   טזמַתָּ֣ן אָ֖דָם יַרְחִ֣יב ל֑וֹ וְלִפְנֵ֖י גְדֹלִ֣ים יַנְחֶֽנּוּ:
A man’s gift will make room: [This is to be understood] according to its simple meaning, but, according to its midrashic interpretation, it deals with those who give (sic) charity, which widens his share in the future world, as well as during his lifetime, and it will lead him before the great, who say that he is esteemed.  
17He who pleads his case first seems just, but his neighbor comes and searches him out.   יזצַדִּ֣יק הַרִאשׁ֣וֹן בְּרִיב֑וֹ יּבָֽא־וּבָֽא־רֵ֜עֵ֗הוּ וַחֲקָרֽוֹ:
18The lot causes quarrels to cease, and it separates contentious people.   יחמִדְיָנִים יַשְׁבִּ֣ית הַגּוֹרָ֑ל וּבֵ֖ין עֲצוּמִ֣ים יַפְרִֽיד:
and it separates contentious people: Heb. עצומים, these are the litigants, as in (Isa. 41:21): “ ‘present your strong points (עצמותיכם).’” As their pleas are strong, they are called עצומים, either an expression of strength or an expression of closing, as in (ibid. 33:15) “and closes (עצם) his eyes.”  
19A rebellious brother [is deprived] of a strong city, and the quarrels are like the bolt of a castle.   יטאָ֗ח נִפְשָׁ֥ע מִקִּרְיַת־עֹ֑ז וּ֜מִדְוָנִ֗ים וּמִדְיָנִ֗ים כִּבְרִ֥יחַ אַרְמֽוֹן:
A rebellious brother… of a strong city: There is a brother who rebels against his brother and loses a strong city, e.g. Lot against Abraham and Esau against Jacob.  
and the quarrels are like the bolt of a castle: The quarrel between them separates them forever, like a bolt with which they lock the gates of a castle, so that no one should enter it.  
20With the fruit of his mouth does a man's stomach become sated; with the produce of his lips he is sated.   כמִפְּרִ֣י פִי־אִ֖ישׁ תִּשְׂבַּ֣ע בִּטְנ֑וֹ תְּבוּאַ֖ת שְׂפָתָ֣יו יִשְׂבָּֽע:
21Death and life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its produce.   כאמָ֣וֶת וְ֖חַיִּים בְּיַד־לָשׁ֑וֹן וְ֜אֹהֲבֶ֗יהָ יֹאכַ֥ל פִּרְיָֽהּ:
and those who love it will eat its produce: He who loves his tongue and accustoms it to [speaking words of] Torah, partakes of its reward in this world.  
22He who has found a wife has found good, and has obtained favor from the Lord.   כבמָצָ֣א אִ֖שָּׁה מָ֣צָא ט֑וֹב וַיָּ֥פֶק רָ֜צ֗וֹן מֵיְהוָֽה:
He who has found a wife has found good: He who has found the Torah; and according to its apparent meaning, a good wife.  
and has obtained favor: And has obtained. This is its simple meaning. Another explanation: A man who found a wife and found good, has obtained favor. That man obtains favor from the Holy One, blessed be He. [This is in the name of] Rabbi Joseph Kara.  
23A poor man speaks with supplications, but a rich man replies with impudence.   כגתַּחֲנוּנִ֥ים יְדַבֶּר־רָ֑שׁ וְ֜עָשִׁ֗יר יַעֲנֶ֥ה עַזּֽוֹת:
A poor man speaks with supplications: This one is accustomed to [speak] in this manner, and that one is accustomed to [speak] in that manner. He teaches you a rule of conduct; that although the rich man answers with impudence, the poor man should speak with supplications, and so is the matter of a teacher to a pupil.  
24A man acquires friends with whom to associate, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.   כדאִ֣ישׁ רֵ֖עִים לְהִתְרֹעֵ֑עַ וְיֵ֥שׁ אֹ֜הֵ֗ב דָּבֵ֥ק מֵאָֽח:
A man acquires friends with whom to associate: A man who acquires friends for himself [will find] that the day will arrive when he will need them, and they will befriend him. Now, if you ask, “What of it?” there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, for he will befriend him more than his kin and his brothers.