Mishlei: Allegory & Application Part Two: Reflections of Reality
We have already established the first two approaches we will use to study each concept in Mishlei – Proverbs: Playing At Life and Making it Part of the Vernacular. (See Allegory & Application: Part One)
R. Simeon b. Lakish opened his discourse [on this theme] with these [two] texts: And if a man lie not in wait, but God cause it to come to hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he may flee,5and As saith the proverb of the ancients: Out of the wicked cometh forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be upon thee. Of whom does the [former] text speak? Of two persons who had slain, one in error and another with intent, there being witnesses in neither case. The Holy One, blessed be He, appoints them both [to meet] at the same inn; he who had slain with intent sits under the step-ladder and he who had slain in error comes down the step-ladder, falls and kills him. Thus, he who had slain with intent is [duly] slain, while he who had slain in error [duly] goes into banishment. (Makkot 10b) Reish Lakish mentions “The Proverb of the Ancients”. Rashi explains that this refers to the Torah, which is the “Proverb” of God, Who is the First Being.
How is the Torah the “Proverb” of God? The Zohar (Volume 2, 161a) explains that “God looked into the Torah and created the world.” God first expressed His Self in the Torah and then used the Torah as the blueprint of creation. The world is an expression of what was encoded as a Proverb in the Torah. The Torah is the analogy and creation, the application.
The Nimshal – what we call the application – can only contain what was in its source, the Mashal – Analogy – or Mishlei.
Solomon’s 3,000 Proverbs (Kings I 5:9-12) are what he derived from the first Mashal – the Torah. Solomon composed Mishlei to help us understand the original Proverb, what Reish Lakish called the Proverb of the Ancient One, so that we can retrace all wisdom back to its Source, the source of all creation.