June 1, 2020 ~ Shabbat NASO. Maqam SABA.

 Proverb of the Week - פתגם השבוע

The following are Proverbs accompanied by a brief explanation.

Discipline

§ חוֹשֵׂ֣ךְ שִׁ֭בְטוֹ שׂוֹנֵ֣א בְנ֑וֹ וְ֝אֹהֲב֗וֹ שִֽׁחֲר֥וֹ מוּסָֽר׃

Proverbs 13:24 translates: “To spare your rod is to hate your son; and to love him is to discipline early.” When it comes to the upbringing of children, a parent might be inclined to try and “be nice” to the children and to let them do whatever they want in order to win their approval. This is a trap, and according to the Proverb, is the wrong approach. A parent has to realize that their role is not to be the “friend” of the child. Proverbs 13:24 says that a parent who doesn’t punish or rebuke a child when they do something wrong is a parent who, in effect, "hates their child." To the contrary, a parent who disciplines their child early and often may appear to hate the child, but in effect actually loves them. Although the terminology of “sparing your rod,” is a form of abuse that is no longer appropriate in our days, the overall message still applies. These days, disciplining children should only be done through reprimanding and punishing and never through acts of physical abuse. Beth Torah Bulletin, June 6, 2020.

Complete Weights

§ מֹאזְנֵ֣י מִ֭רְמָה תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה וְאֶ֖בֶן שְׁלֵמָ֣ה רְצוֹנֽוֹ׃

Proverbs 11:1 translates: "Deceptive scales are an abomination of God; but a complete weight pleases Him." This verse is about conducting monetary affairs with a fellow person in good faith, transparency, and honesty. In the past, trade was conducted by putting weights on a scale in order to measure the weight of the product that one intends to purchase. For those who were dishonest, false scales or incomplete weights could have been used in order to deceive the buyer and give them less than entitled to. In these days, however, when scales and weights are less often used, this verse serves as a general reminder of the importance of conducting business honestly. It is also a reminder that God monitors all of ones actions. For even if one manages to fool a fellow person by acting In trickery, God knows the truth and is repulsed by such behavior. God is only pleased with "complete weights" and business transactions that are conducted fairly. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 30, 2020.

Gaining Knowledge

§ קְֽנֹה־חָכְמָ֗ה מַה־טּ֥וֹב מֵחָר֑וּץ וּקְנ֥וֹת בִּ֝ינָ֗ה נִבְחָ֥ר מִכָּֽסֶף׃

Proverbs 16:16 translates: "Acquiring wisdom is better than gold, and acquiring discernment is preferred to silver." When I was in college and was confronted with how to spend my free time, my father would advise me to shadow my role models in their places of work (for no money). This is opposed to working in a place where I would earn some pocket money but gain no knowledge. The most important thing, he says, is to gain knowledge for the future. I am grateful that individuals like Dr Eddie Sutton and Dr Gary Franco would allow me to shadow them in their dental offices during those formative years. Relating that to this verse, the pursuit of wisdom through life experiences is more valuable than the pursuit of money. This is because the wisdom, as opposed to money, will always be with you, and will help you further yourself in the future. While working in a job that doesn't teach you anything may temporarily sustain you, it will not advance you in the long term. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 23, 2020.

Dinner Plans

§ ט֤וֹב אֲרֻחַ֣ת יָ֭רָק וְאַהֲבָה־שָׁ֑ם מִשּׁ֥וֹר אָ֝ב֗וּס וְשִׂנְאָה־בֽוֹ׃

Proverbs 15:17 translation: "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened ox where there is hate." Each week when I was in college, I had to find a place to eat for a Shabbat or holiday meal. During these years, I had the opportunity to interact with many different types of families. For the most part, each family was special in their own way and extremely hospitable. However, the Proverb above, provides a hypothetical scenario of two polarized types of dinner meals. One is a meal with peaceful and loving people, but consists of only of vegetables, and the other is a meal with belligerent and hateful people but consists of a fancy steak dinner. For this scenario, Proverbs suggests that one chooses wisely and spends time with loving people that are at peace with one another rather than spend time with belligerent people that are constantly fighting with one another. In summary, good company is more important than good food. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 16, 2020.

The Ant

§ לֵֽךְ־אֶל־נְמָלָ֥ה עָצֵ֑ל רְאֵ֖ה דְרָכֶ֣יהָ וַחֲכָֽם׃

Proverbs 6:6 translation: "Go to an ant, you lazy, see it's ways and wisen." The Malbim says that it is important to look at the traits of animals to see what can be learned from them. For if God never gave the Torah to us, our next option would be to look for examples of good traits from different animals. Regarding the ant, it is very small in size, yet very diligent in its task of collecting food. It often carries food that is much bigger and heavier than itself; a trait to emulate. In addition, it wisely prepares itself for the future by collecting food during the harvest season (summer), when food is plentiful, in order to store it for the winter season, when food is scarce. Verses 7-8 continue to say that although ants have no leaders, policemen, or rulers amongst themselves, they still continue to do their tasks of collecting food on their own and without coercion. They know their responsibilities and don't need to be reminded to take care of them. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 9, 2020.


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