• Akiva Murguia

Proverbs 11:2. Insolence vs Modesty


A man is known by his deeds and is called after his deeds. The sages have expounded, "For game is in his mouth" Genesis 25:28. Esav is referred to by his most characteristic conduct.

The sages teach: Silence is a fence around wisdom.

Modest people conceal good deeds from the public.

The scripture speaks about Torah study, "When insolence comes," refers to neglect of Torah study. King David said, similarly: "The insolent ones have utterly scorned me" on account of my Torah study. The scorners made every effort that I join their company. "Yet have I not turned aside from Your Torah" (Psalms 119:51). Accordingly it says here, "When insolence comes, then comes disgrace." The opposite is true of one who "sits in tents" of study (cf Genesis 25:27), for in him there is "wisdom."

Those who are wise will not expound their own erudition and opinions, but listen to their teachers.

The scripture advises public speakers. The presence of even a single scoffer in the audience is enough to destroy the speaker's words by a single jest. As it says, "When insolence comes, then comes shame." The proper thing to do at such times is to keep silent. For "with the modest is wisdom," and silence is a protective fence around wisdom.

Rabbi Bana said in the name of Rabbi Huna: If you have seen generations marked by the trait of falsehood, in the end it will be afflicted by a harsh government. Rabbi Levi said: Moses referred to that very thing in the Torah, as it says, "You will not have in your bag diverse weights, the great and the small..." - Deuteronomy 25:13. If you act contrary to this counsel, in the end a harsh government will come to afflict you. Accordingly the above passage is immediately followed by, "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way..."(ibid. :17)

The retribution for using false weights and measures is more severe than the retribution for sexual immorality. The reason is that the transgressor generally does not know whom he has cheated. Since the stolen money cannot be returned to their rightful owners, it is difficult to do penance.

"But with the modest is wisdom." Thus the sages would refer to Torah sages as "the modest ones."

The person who commits acts of insolence brings disgrace upon himself. "But with the modest is wisdom." Those who keep their wisdom concealed, the wisdom honors them by protecting them from being disgraced. Along the same lines, the scripture says, "Those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who despise Me will be little esteemed." 1 Shmuel 2:30.

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