A Unique Online Torah Learning Resource

Mishlei 19-03 (Blame)

Key Concepts of Mishlei 19-03 (Blame)
Because we live in a physical world, each of us is constrained by the environment in which we happen to live, including the family and culture into which were born. We do not get to choose the circumstances of our gift of life. But we do get to choose what we do within our own personal frame of reference, which is like a tiny universe of our own.
Hashem has given us this amazing gift and it comes with its unique set of challenges that represent our mission in life. As a person grows up he is constantly looking around him and thinking about what he should be doing with himself. The ultimate source of control is within his own mind which has the power to evaluate and reflect upon the choices facing him. Hashem has implanted a sense of right and wrong within each of us, as well as the voice of temptation calling us to make a selfish and unwise choice.
We also have the benefit of guidance from our parents and teachers, as well the experience of previous generations of mankind. Hashem’s guidance, as expressed in the Torah comes to us in many forms, one of which is the book of Mishlei.
Exploring Mishlei
(ג) אִוֶּלֶת אָדָם תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ וְעַל ה‘ יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ:
A man's own foolishness corrupts his way, yet his heart rages against Hashem.
As we have seen, Mishlei repeatedly emphasizes the importance of actively using our minds, and doing whatever is right within the framework of the options that are available to us. Here Mishlei refers to the failure of using one’s mind as foolishness ( אִוֶּלֶת ). Such foolishness is disastrous to a person because it can have the effect of corrupting his way ( תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ ) through life. A person who consistently fails to think things through may be forced to face harsh consequences because man’s life is governed by a system of reward and punishment, laws of action and reaction. If a person allows his life to be dominated by foolish thinking, he will be inclined to resent what has happened to his life. His heart will then want to blame Hashem ( וְעַל ה‘ יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ ) for not making it easier for him. But it does a man no good to rage against Hashem, for the foolish person has only himself to blame.
Learning Mishlei
(ג) אִוֶּלֶת אָדָם תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ 
וְעַל ה‘ יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ:
A man's own foolishness  אִוֶּלֶת אָדָם corrupts his way  תְּסַלֵּף דַּרְכּוֹ through life. But it is against Hashem  וְעַל ה‘ that his heart rages  יִזְעַף לִבּוֹ .
Additional Insights
(1) The fallacy of blaming Hashem for the consequences of one’s own foolishness is vividly described in Bereishis (42:28). When Yosef’s brothers discovered that their money had been returned to them, they were afraid they would be suspected of having stolen it. So they said, מַה זֹּאת עָשָׂה אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ What has Hashem done to us? At that point they did not see this as a consequence of their own foolishness in selling Yosef as a slave. ( רש"י )
(2) It is characteristic of human nature that when things go wrong a person is always looking for someone else to blame. He may even be persuaded that he was unfairly treated by Hashem and put in an impossible situation where he would be unable to withstand the temptations driving him to sin. ( מלבים )
(3) A person who has sinned may feel he doesn’t deserve to be punished because his intentions were good. Things just didn’t work out, but he meant well. ( רבינו יונה )
(4) A person who has started to do a major mitzvah, such as learning Torah, may be counting on Hashem’s help. But if he unwisely takes on a commitment for which he is unprepared, he will inevitably fail. He should not blame Hashem for not coming to his assistance. He should blame himself for his conceited attempt to appear more learned than he is. ( הגר"א )