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Sheva Yipoil Tzadick V’cum

כי שבע יפול צדיק וקם ורשעים יכשלו ברעה

משלי כד:טז

As a bochur in yeshiva I never put much thought into this posuk, ch’v, but as a married man, b’h, I have had occasion to wonder what’s pshat; is this a moshul? Is this advice? And if so, how are we mekayem this mitzvah l’chatchila?

The most common explanation is that while all slump, the tzadick always gets up again, even as many as seven times. We’ll return to this pshat in a minute.

Another pshat is that what differentiates the tzadick is precisely the number of times he plunges. Rav Hutner explains that every time the tzadick experiences a decline he rises again, but to newer, greater heights! (Frankly, I don’t understand this but then I haven’t been exposed to as much torah as Rav Hutner had been so who knows what he discovered while plunging deep into the yam hatalmud.)

Going back to the first pshat. It would seem that what sets the tzadick apart is his ability to rise when things don’t go well on the first try, whereas the common man cannot rise again, let alone seven times. Shtelt zich de shailah: Does Shloime Hamelech mean for this to be done all in a day’s work or do we have the usual six day workweek to accomplish this? (It occurs to me that it’s real rich for Shlomo to set such a high standard, having 1,000 opportunities to choose from to help him fulfill this mitzvah. But now is not the time for jealous musings, we have a posuk to dissect.)

We may find a clue that will help us answer this question in the second half of the posuk.

I think we can darshen a gezeirah shava from the posuk in הושע יד:י which says: “מי חכם ויבן אלה נבון וידעם כי ישרים דרכי יהוה וצדקים ילכו בם ופשעים יכשלו בם”. I think what this posuk is saying is that one shouldn’t be a dick – if you don’t score on the first try you move on and try your luck elsewhere – that’s what the tzadick does: he tries, he falls, he rises again, as many as seven times in one night but the rasha gets embarrassed by his failure, he gets vindictive, he keeps trying, finally stumbling once and for all.

As an aside, I notice that there are no beinonim here: you’re either a tzadick or a rasha, all or nothing, you either fail after one recession or you ascend seven times. That’s quite a contrast there.

Unfortunately the gemarah is no help here, they left us no record of the epic machloikes this posuk must have generated in the bais medrish of Ravina and Rav Ashi so it’s left to us to argue over it and come to a maskanah so feel free to weigh in with your own pshat.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Count chocula April 23, 2017, 2:49 PM

    It’s giving you the extremes on both sides. A person in the middle Benoni is either striving to be good or bad. It’s saying keep going. The perek starts “don’t envy reshaim or try to be friends with them because it doesn’t end well. They don’t have real friends and they’re selfish and vindictive or something to that extent.

  • Pinky Schmeckelstein April 23, 2017, 3:25 PM

    Shragi Ackerman, you are a Mechutziff of Groisseh proportions. You indeed asked me a Shailah, and 48 hours later, when you have not received a Teshuvah, you write your own Pshat, which sounds like it was written by a Sheygutz living in the middle of a steel town in the Mid West, Chass V’Sholom.

    First of all – You sent your Shailah not to me, but to my alter ego. Kooley Alma Loi Pligi, everybody knows, that my alter ego is not even a Yid. It is only when he steps into a phone booth, or a Mikvah, that he turns into Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein, SHLITA, the Rosheshiva of Yeshivas Chipass Emess, and can speak Loshoin Koidesh (AKA Yiddish), Hebrew, Aramaic, and whatever the hell they speak in Antarctica (where I am running for Chief Rabbi).

    Second of all, you Menuval, do I only exist to answer your Shailas?!?! are there not others who can benefit from my Lumdus? What are you – Like Aroin HaKoihain who cannot wait a day before creating an Eigel to worship? Somewhere in Shamayim, there are Malachim crying for your Neshama, as they envision. you being sent to Gehenim after 120 years and being roasted like a Karban Pesach with an apple in your mouth!

    As it happens, Nuch Pesach, thefe have been many Shailas i have needed to address. For Example, this was received from Reizel, “Rabbi Schmeckelstein, i have red spotting in my Hagadah – Does that mean that I will have a Chashah of Nidah every year?”, To which I reminded her that she should not be engaging in Tashmish HaMitah during Pesach anyway, since her Baal HaBayis may have hidden the Afikoimun in her Erva, and any exposure to moisture, Chass V’Sholom, is a Chashash of Gebrochs. So the only day, MAYBE, that a couple can engage in Tashmish is on the eighth day, and only if the couple use sheets set aside for use on the eighth day of Pesach, period.

    (Please note: Misnagdim who eat Gebruchs should not engage in Tashmish either, because it might lead to mixed dancing at the start of Sefirasssss Ha Oimer.

    So, young Shragi, I suggest that you learn patience, otherwise you may stop satisfying your own wife, and she may not let you play “hide the Afikoimun” except on Yoim Toiv Sheini Shel Goliois. And, of course, on Martin Luther King Junior Day if your Makoim HaMilah is bigger then a Tefach.


    • Justin E May 18, 2017, 6:34 AM

      No, malachim is code for ourselves. Ramchal talks about it in Daat Tnuvot. Malachim are models of imitation or the opposite.

    • Alter Cocker June 30, 2017, 12:45 AM

      Great post. Instant classic.

    • Alter Cocker July 3, 2017, 4:18 PM

      Great post. A+. Would read again.

      “Somewhere in Shamayim, there are Malachim crying for your Neshama, as they envision. you being sent to Gehenim after 120 years and being roasted like a Karban Pesach with an apple in your mouth!”

  • JS April 25, 2017, 11:21 AM

    Good effort trying to attract the high-school-boy demographic to this blog

  • Justin E May 18, 2017, 6:32 AM

    This legitimately made me sad.

    Please do one about how sperg frum guys fail in shidduchim and why its not talked about. Please drop legit red pills and don’t be sarcastically abrasive but intend to give closure to both people who remained on the derech and also the OTDers.

    • Count chocula May 31, 2017, 9:30 AM

      Go kill yourself

      • Justin E June 12, 2017, 12:58 AM

        I’m sorry, do you need help cleaning sand out of your vagina?

        • Count chocula June 12, 2017, 2:24 AM

          Do something constructive like killing your self

          • Rowland, Robert/Aryeh Divri November 30, 2018, 11:44 PM

            Please Sir/Ma’am-
            A shandes goy no less.

  • Don Manny July 27, 2017, 9:05 PM

    you’re in luck -it was just covered in daf yomi.

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