Proverbs 3

[Pro 3:5-6 ESV] 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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B?tach el-Adonai b?chol-libecha v?el-biynat’cha al-tisha’en
B?chol-d?racheycha da’eyhu v?hu y?yasher orchoteycha.

It’s funny how things often come to me when I’m in the shower, of all places; perhaps because it’s one of the few times/places when I’m relatively free from distractions (like fb). Anyway, one morning I was thinking about a post that a friend had posted from chabad.org about atonement and forgiveness. A key point in that article about the depth of atonement required was the level of understanding of the person who commits the offence, and thinking about understanding reminded me of this passage in Proverbs.
One criticism of “the rabbis” that I’ve heard from some Hebrew Roots teachers (and a certain wandering Karaite who shall remain nameless) is that “the rabbis” have spent so much time “adding commandments to the Torah” and, in doing so, making it a “heavy burden”. One example they give are the many blessings that observant Jews are wont to say throughout the day – there is a blessing for almost every situation. To the outsider, it could even seem almost OCD-like. (Bear with me – I’m getting to my point).

As I meditated on these verses, I found myself asking some questions.
“What does it mean, ‘B?chol-d?racheycha (in all your ways)’?”
Derech – a way, road, path, journey – is the place where we walk. All of our journeys. All of our paths. Wherever we walk. To walk is ?????? halakh, which is is the root of the term halakhah – legal determinations and interpretations and applications of the Torah made by a Rabbi for his community, or by a Rabbinic Council (e.g. the Sanhedrin). So, we could understand “in all your ways” as being equivalent to “everywhere you walk, everything you do, every decision you make…” (etc).
“What does it mean, ‘da’eyhu (know/acknowledge Him)’?”

The root of da’eyhu is ????? yada. It has a range of meaning including knowing, learning, perceiving, discerning, admitting, acknowledging, confessing and more. Da’eyhu here implies more than just an intellectual knowing or assent, especially when preceeded by “do not lean on your (own) understanding”; we are to seek to know, to learn to discern His will in every situation, and to acknowledge His leading, guidance and providence at every step, even before it is necessarily evident.

And what are the many blessings that have been taught to us by Chazal (our sages of blessed memory), if not deliberate acknowledgements of HaShem’s involvement in everything we do? Are they not practical examples of the application of the wisdom contained in these verses? We need not even understand – we need only to ask, to know, to acknowledge and honour Him at every step, and ????????? ????????????? y?yasher orchoteycha – he will make right, make smooth, straighten, lead, direct, esteem rightly and approve the course of your (our) lives.

May I (may we all) be diligent to learn to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways. All our halakhah. B”H.

Rodney posted at כ״ו בכסלו ה׳תשע״ו (December 8, 2015) Category: Proverbs, Tanakh, Wisdom Literature