• Akiva Murguia

Notes on Proverbs 10:27-29


"The fear of the Lord adds days; but the years of the wicked are shortened." - Proverbs 10:27

"The years of the wicked" who do not fear G-d "are shortened." Fear usually saps one's strength, but "The fear of the Lord adds days" and years. Notwithstanding that the wicked are joyous when indulging their lust for the ephemeral things of this world, their "years... are shortened."

The tzaddik who fears G-d is aware every moment of every day that tomorrow he may die. This apprehension "adds days" and years to his life. But the evildoer sees himself as a permanent resident of this world with many years to live. In the end, however, his "years ... are shortened." Similarly, our sages teach: If one wants to die, he should make himself live (indulge in the satisfactions of this world." If one wants to live, he should make himself die.

"The (far) hope of the righteous is gladness, but the (near) hope of the wicked will perish." - Proverbs 10:28

The expectation of the righteous is not based on their power and the might of their hands (cf Deuteronomy 8:17), nor do they rely completely on their understanding. They depend on the merciful will of G-d, as it says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding." They are gladdened by the very fact that their hope and trust is in G-d.

G-d does not grant the desires of the evildoer (cf Psalms 149). When their hopes are not realized, this causes sickness of the heart.

The righteous man's every desire and hope is that "gladness" should prevail in the world. He yearns to behold salvation and consolation. "But the hope of the wicked" is for the opposite; they want the world to perish. This hope of theirs "will perish."

"The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the man of integrity, but ruin to the workers of iniquity." - Proverbs 10:29

When "the man of integrity" reaches the end of his strength, G-d is his strength and "stronghold" (cf also Jeremiah 16:19). But G-d brings "ruin to the workers of iniquity," even if they dwell in security, in order to break down their arrogance.

All the warnings and words of admonition in the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, were not meant for the tzaddik. For the tzaddik is aware that "the way of the Lord is a stronghold to the man of integrity," and so does not require the threat of punishment. Only "the workers of iniquity" are faced with "ruin," and they alone have need of all those warnings.

The way to live out one's years to the fullest is by living with integrity.

Some say that the scripture here speaks against those who misuse the words of the Torah to justify their evil deeds. Thus, the sages contended against the Sadducees and disproved their views. As indeed it says, "For the ways of the Lord are upright, and the righteous walk in them; but the transgressors stumble in them (Hoseah 14:10).

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