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Thought for the Day: What Sefer Mishlei Is

Just a head's up.  My chavrusa and I have started learning Sefer Mishlei according to the explanation of the Gr"a; therefore you're going to be reading more about that.  Well, to be precise, you'll get the emails, but whether you actually read them or not is up to you.  HaMeivin Yavin.

The Gr"a begins by giving us a lesson in managing complexity.  Any matter, he says, has four components that need to be appreciated in order to understand/utilize the matter.  Those four are: the material out of which it is made, who is working with that material, the format into which that material is being placed, and for what purpose.  For example, one could take trees, pine needles, rocks, etc and make them into a forest.  It could be done by the US Parks Commission in order to provide a national recreation facility.

The point is that one needs all four of these categories of information before one can even start to be effective in understanding and utilizing the system.  Unless you know what is building material and what is the format, you will have trouble seeing the forest (format) for the trees (material).  Unless you know the author's intent, you will keep stumbling in understanding why things are the way they are.  When all is said and done, though, the competence of the author speaks to the quality of the execution and the probability of achieving its purpose.

Sefer Mishlei begins:
Mishlei Shlomo ben David, Melech Yisrael.  La'da'as chochma u'musar, l'havin imrei bina.  La'kachas musar haskeil, tzedek u'mishpat u'meisharim.
The construction material: mashal.  Translation: adage, parable, dictum.  Ok, ok... proverb.  In other words, everything in this sefer is to be understood as stating universal truths by way of example.  It is not the example itself that is important, but the truth behind it.

The author: Shlomo ha'Melech -- the wisest of all men.  'Nuff said.

The format: To know wisdom and discipline, to understand deep concepts.  Shlomo haMelech will weave mashalim into vignettes that speak to wisdom, discipline, and the deepest concepts of our reality.

The purpose: To become a perfected human being by responding intelligently to all of life's challenges, acting in all ways with righteousness and piety.

Oh... is that all.


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