Rav Avigdor Miller on Learning Mishlei

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Q:
I would like to learn Mishlei from beginning to end for the first time in my life. Can you give me some advice about how to approach the learning of this sefer?

A:
When you learn Mishlei, the first step is to make up your mind that Mishlei knows what he’s talking about. He’s not just wasting his time. And even though the statements might sometimes seem פשוט, simple, make up your mind that there is nothing simple in Mishlei. That’s very important to understand. A wise man is talking to you – one of the wisest the world ever saw. And therefore, try to understand the profundity of his words.

Sometimes you might need the מפרשים, the commentaries, to help you out. Whatever it is, you should make up your mind that Mishlei is a repository of the deepest wisdom for practical living.

Although Mishlei is a sefer of יראת שמים, fear of Heaven, like it says in the beginning of the first פרק, you must understand that Mishlei is also a book of successful living. If you want to be happy in עולם הזה, in this world, then Mishlei is the guide to that. It tells you how to deal with people and how to deal with yourself in order to live successfully in this world. There are so many gems in Mishlei. Advice on how to guard your health, how to guard your property, your money, how to get along with everybody – your wife, your children, your neighbors, your enemies. And it’s a shame that so many people make the time to read everything else – newspapers, magazines and so much other garbage, but for Mishlei they don’t have time.

Of course, the most important advice is how to get along with הקדוש ברוך הוא. But Mishlei is full of wise counsel that will help you live successfully in עולם הזה, in this world. And knowing all this, you are going to approach this sefer with a different attitude. And that should be your first step in learning the sefer of Mishlei.
TAPE # 636