Mishlei (Proverbs) Chapter 18
1. He who is separated seeks lust; in all sound wisdom, he is exposed.
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].”
2. A fool does not delight in understanding, but in revealing his heart.
but in revealing his heart But in the revelation of his heart. He wishes to reveal what is in his heart.
3. When a wicked man comes, there also comes contempt, and with disdain, provocation.
and with disdain disgrace comes. He who chooses disdain and adultery-it is a disgrace for him.
4. The words of a man’s mouth are like deep water; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing stream.
the wellspring of wisdom is like a flowing stream and like deep water.
The words of a man’s mouth Heb. ???. Every instance of ??? in Scripture is an expression of a mighty man, one who is great in might.
5. It is not good to be partial to the wicked, to subvert the righteous in judgment.
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.
6. The lips of a fool will enter a quarrel, and his mouth calls out for blows.
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.
7. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare for himself.
8. The words of a grumbler are like blows, and they descend into the inmost parts.
The words of a grumbler are like blows Heb. ????????.
9. Even one who is slack in his work is akin to the destroyer.
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.
10. The name of the Lord is a tower of strength; the righteous runs into it and is strengthened.
The name of the Lord is a tower of strength; the righteous runs into it and is strengthened Heb. ?????.
11. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a strong wall in his chamber.
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 ??? ?????,
a covering stone.
12. Before ruin, a man’s heart becomes haughty, but before honor there is humility.
13. He who answers a word before he understands-it is foolishness for him and an embarrassment.
14. A man’s spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit-who will bear it?
A man’s spirit The spirit of a ???, 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.
15. An understanding heart will acquire knowledge, and the ear of the wise will seek knowledge.
16. A man’s gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.
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.
17. He who pleads his case first seems just, but his neighbor comes and searches him out.
18. The lot causes quarrels to cease, and it separates contentious people.
and it separates contentious people Heb. ??????, these are the litigants, as in (Isa. 41:21): “ ‘present your strong points (????????).’” As their pleas
are strong, they are called ??????, either an expression of strength or an expression of closing, as in (ibid. 33:15) “and closes (???) his eyes.”
19. A rebellious brother [is deprived] of a strong city, and the quarrels are like the bolt of a castle.
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
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.
20. With the fruit of his mouth does a man’s stomach become sated; with the produce of his lips he is sated.
21. Death and life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its produce.
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.
22. He who has found a wife has found good, and has obtained favor from the Lord.
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.
23. A poor man speaks with supplications, but a rich man replies with impudence.
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.
24. A man acquires friends with whom to associate, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
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