One of the silver linings to the troubles we are facing is that people are increasingly turning to the timeless wisdom of the Torah for guidance. The false gods of modern science, secular philosophy, man-made morality, and every form of government are being exposed before our eyes. We are being inspired and compelled to return to the only true God; all other paths lead to hell.
A few months ago I presented a series of articles on historical lessons from Yirmiya, beginning here. With Hashem's help I will now offer a series from Mishlei, the book of proverbs from King Shlomo, the wisest of men, written with ruach hakodesh, the divine spirit.
This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list of contemporary lessons, of course. There is no limit to what we can learn from the Torah. Hopefully this series will inspire more people to increase their Torah study and find their own gems.
דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
Its ways are the ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. (3:17)
This is one of the most famous verses in Mishlei. It has been hijacked by many people who cherry-pick and corrupt Torah sources to justify behaving in ways that are antithetical to the Torah. However, even those who live according to the Torah may be unfamiliar with how Chazal and our commentaries explained it.
A few of these explanations are particularly relevant for our time. Metzudas David writes that one will not stumble in any way through fulfilling the words of the Torah. Of course, this does not mean that we will always experience immediate gratification and live without troubles. It means that fulfilling the words of the Torah is always the best option, in fact the only one that is truly “safe and effective”. This often means sacrificing something in the short term, but ultimately one never loses by keeping the Torah.
This is an important lesson to keep in mind when we are being pressured in so many ways to harm ourselves and others in exchange for temporary material convenience. The first step in defeating the wicked people is making a firm decision to fulfill the words of the Torah, no matter what. If that means finding another way to earn a living (while recognizing that this is nothing more than a vehicle for God's blessing), so be it. If that means shutting down your school, rather than letting medical pedophiles abuse the children, so be it.
When it comes to choosing between good and evil, we don't make calculations. We choose good, period. It's always the best deal in town.
Ralbag makes the following comment:
הנה דרכי התורה הם דרכים שינעמו וימתקו מאד לאדם כי לא העמיסה על האדם שום מעמס יקשה לו אבל כל מה שבה מן המצות והאזהרות הם דברים ערבים ורצויים בעצמותם לא כנימוסי הגוים שהיו מעמיסים בהם דברים קשים גם את בניהם ואת בנותיהם ישרפו באש לאלהיהם וכל נתיבות התורה הם שלום לגוף לנפש
The ways of the Torah are ways that will be very pleasant and sweet to man, for they do not place any burden on a person that will make things difficult for him, but everything that is in it from the commandments and warnings are things that are palatable and pleasing in their essence. This is not like the laws of the nations, which place difficult burdens [on people], and they also burn their sons and daughters in fire to their gods. All the paths of the Torah are peaceful to the body and soul.
Of course, there is much to elaborate on this subject, since keeping the Torah is not easy for all people at all times. In essence, however, the Torah is the ultimate instruction manual for healthy living. Those who believe they can outdo God's instruction manual inevitably devolve to the lowest depths of tyranny and depravity. Those who believe they can achieve greater “freedom” by “liberating” themselves from the demands of the Torah will inevitably terrorize and enslave people.
Finally, those who believe that child sacrifice went out of style in ancient times are learning otherwise. The godless, enlightened ones are coming for their children physically, mentally, and spiritually. One wonders if a quick fire sacrifice would be a more merciful fate.
The ways of these godless, enlightened ones are increasing neither pleasantness nor peace. They never have.
The Torah is certainly demanding, but it is not burdensome. It is the most pleasant and peaceful way to live. Ultimately, as we are seeing, it is the only pleasant and peaceful way to live.