Mishlei: A Permanent Guest
“To rescue you from the way of evil, from a person who speaks duplicities, from those who forsake paths of righteousness to walk in the ways of darkness.” The ‘duplicities,’ or ‘Tahapuchot,’ can only speak to someone who lives with contradictions. Even a person who has great wisdom will have internal contradictions until he has internalized his wisdom. King Solomon is describing the benefits of internalized wisdom and understanding.
He then speaks of the differences between a “path,” or “Orach,” and “Derech,” or “way.” A Derech is ill-defined. It is a long road that one takes without having any personality. The “way” does not call to him. It is simply where the person is.
“Orach,” on the other hand, is related to “Orei’ach,” a guest who, although he is not home, has a place where he is welcomed and cared for.
Once a person has internalized his wisdom and understanding, he will find himself a guest on the Orach. He will never cease growing, and will never have a sense of a permanent place because he is always rising. He will always be a guest where he is, but, as the prophet Samuel, he will have all he needs with him. (Berachot 10b) It is of such a person that the Talmud says, “A true scholar will not find rest in this world or in the World To Come.” (Berachot 64a) His portion of the eternal will be eternally expanding.
There are many who find such a life frightening. They cannot accept the lack of permanence. They cannot bear to live as guests. They cannot comprehend a live of constant change and growth. They desire more stability. They want calm. They reject life as a guest on the Orach. They shudder at the thought of eternal growth.
King Solomon reminds us that to reject “Orach,” is to choose “Derech,” a dim life; “those who forsake paths of righteousness to walk in the ways of darkness.”
The choice between Derech and Orach defines our wisdom. It determines whether we will succeed in internalizing our wisdom and understanding, because the wisdom of which Solomon speaks, is eternal wisdom, it is infinite, expansive and constantly expanding. In order to absorb wisdom one must desire to be as the wisdom, to travel through life as an Orei’ach on the Orach.
“The Lord made all, this corresponding to this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14) What is true of good, is true of evil. As Lucifer, in Byron’s poem “Cain,” Satan makes his position absolutely clear:
And the unfathomable gulfs of Hades,
And the interminable realms of space,
And the infinity of endless ages,
All, all, will I dispute! And world by world,
And star by star, and universe by universe
Shall tremble in the balance, till the great
Conflict shall cease, if ever it shall cease,
Which it ne’er shall, till He or I be quenched.
We, who were created in the image of God, have the DNA of the eternal. We will ultimately find that we cannot absolutely reject the eternal expansiveness of Wisdom, for there is always the other side, corresponding, that eternally battles the wisdom and insight of Torah.