The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous stands firm. — Proverbs 12:7
Remember the story The Three Little Pigs? In the fairytale, three brother pigs are sent out into the world to build their lives. The youngest brother builds a house out of straw, finishes quickly, and goes on to play. The second brother builds his house of sticks and then joins his younger brother in having fun. The elder brother takes the time to build a house of brick.
We all know what happens next. The wolf comes to “huff and puff and blow the houses down” so that he can eat the little pigs. He blows down the houses of straw and sticks easily. But when it comes to the house made of bricks, he fails and the pigs, who all ran to safety in the elder brother’s brick house, live.
This story may as well have been based on this verse from Proverbs: “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.” King Solomon is teaching us that while the wicked may amass great amounts of wealth and have a grand old time in life, their existence, both physical and spiritual, is precarious. In one instant, everything can be utterly destroyed.
But the righteous have a special godly protection. Since the righteous have built their lives on the solid foundation of biblical values, morals, and teachings, their house can withstand any adversity that comes into their lives. The Jewish sages are clear to say that this applies on a spiritual level – these souls will live on for eternity in the afterlife. However, it is also true on a physical level. Even if the righteous lose their own lives in a time of tragedy, their line will continue through a descendant. There is very real divine protection on the righteous.
Notice that both in the story and in real life, adversity visits us all. The “big bad wolf” — be it in the form of financial difficulties, illness, or broken relationships — will come and try to blow down everyone’s house whether they are righteous or wicked. We all face difficulties, but we don’t all come out of them the same.
When a life is built on lies – when it is founded on faulty beliefs and misplaced values – that life is an extremely vulnerable one. If the material aspect of that life is in peril, people might lose their sense of wellbeing and capacity for hope. If they suddenly lose all their money, they might completely implode. If you don’t have God in your life, what will keep you standing in the face of adversity?
The good news is that we don’t have to live that way. We can choose to build our lives on the solid foundation of faith, obedience, and biblical values. If we do this, then we will weather the greatest storms. Our houses will stand firm and sound.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President