Mishlei: Creating a Sense of Security Part Four
“Do not withhold good from its rightful recipients, when you have the power to do it.
tell your neighbor, ‘Leave and come back; tomorrow I will give it,’ when it is already with you.
Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
one who dwells securely near you.
Do not quarrel with any man without cause,
if he has done no evil to you.
Do not envy the man of violence, and do not choose any of his ways,
for one who deviates is an abomination to God;
and His counsel is with the upright.
God’s blight is upon the house of the wicked;
He blesses the abode of the righteous.
If one is drawn to the scoffers, he will scoff;
but one who is drawn to the humble will find favor.
The wise inherit honor
and fools generate disgrace.”
The five “do not”s all seem sensible, albeit, obvious. Why is King Solomon adding these instructions to his course on Wisdom?
We must also understand how these closing instructions of the 3rd Proverb relate to creating a sense of security, Bitachon, the theme of this Proverb (See Rabbeinu Yonah 3:6).
God introduced the idea of becoming a Boteiach when Israel arrived at Mount Sinai: “You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on the wings of Eagles and brought you to Me.
And now, if you hearken well to Me and guard My covenant,
you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples,
for Mine is the entire world.
You shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation (Exodus 19:3-5).”
God wanted the Children of Israel, based on what they witnessed and experience over the course of the Exodus, to trust Him to guarantee their success, treasure them, and treat them as royalty. He wanted Israel to enter the Covenant of Torah on trust.
He continued to instruct them in becoming Botchim, Trusters, with the second of the Ten Statements: “There shall be for you other powers before Me,” which is understood as a Mitzvah that we may not believe that there is any power other than God. The positive side of that Statement is that we must be aware that God is the only Power, and therefore, the only Source of power in the world. The implication is that whatever power we may have to succeed, comes from God.
This Mitzvah is one of the Six Constant Mitzvot, which my father zt”l explained as Mitzvot of Being: We must be people who are so aware that God is the only Power that we would never fall into the trap of believing, even for a second, that there is another power; namely, us. We must live with a constant awareness that any power we may have derives from God.
Only a person who achieves a sense of living in the Presence of God can achieve such a constantly high level of awareness. We are charged to live in the Presence of God as part of the Mitzvah of being a Boteiach. Bitachon demands that we work hard to create an environment in which we can constantly experience God’s Presence, and that we do not do anything that will damage that environment; anything that will lead God’s Presence to leave.
It is this Mitzvah of Bitachon that prohibits scoffing; making light of serious matters. If God empowers all actions, those actions should matter. Scoffing is a rejection of the Second Statement. Just as the environment will influence one’s level of trust, so it can influence him to become a scoffer.” If one is drawn to the scoffers, he will scoff.”
A person who is trustworthy can trust others, and can trust God. An untrustworthy person cannot trust others. A reliable person does not relate to others just to prove his power over them. “Do not quarrel with any man without cause, if he has done no evil to you.”
When a person views relationships as power struggles, he is rejecting God as the source of power. “Do not withhold good from its rightful recipients, when you have the power to do it. Do not tell your neighbor, ‘Leave and come back; tomorrow I will give it,’ when it is already with you.”
A Boteiach who is aware that all his power comes from God will not reject God as he uses his power: “Do not devise evil against your neighbor, one who dwells securely near you.”
Shlomo haMelech is teaching us that all these “obvious” instructions must be observed as part of becoming and being a Boteiach.
True Wisdom derives from the Torah, and as we learned at Sinai, only a Boteiach can enter the Covenant of Torah.