Tzemach Tzadik by Rabbi Leone di Modena Chapter 31 Irresolution


Back to chapter 30 about perseverance

Translated by Ralph Anzarouth and an anonymous friend


Irresolution is the failure to persevere in one's decision for a length of time and it points to bad behavior and to the foolishness of the irresolute person. As such, it is often found in women.

This trait can be found in the swallow, which is constantly flying back and forth among the other birds and it has no fixed resolution whether in summer or winter. Such is the resolve of the irresolute man. In a similar vein, King Solomon said (Proverbs 14, 15): "The fool believes everything whilst the astute person will consider his steps". Our Sages of blessed memory said about Pharaoh that he was irresolute and in this respect Yehudah said to Yossef: "You are like Pharaoh", in other words: you are like Pharaoh who makes decrees which he doesn't carry out and makes promises which he does not fulfill. Similarly, they criticized Achashverosh for being an irresolute monarch.

Sallustius said that irresolution is a sign of foolishness. Aristotle said that the irresolute person is in conflict in all his affairs.

Our ancestors, the Sages of blessed memory told us in the Talmud Bavli (Sanhedrin 107a): "Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that one should never bring himself into temptation, since David the King of Israel did so and succumbed. He said: 'Test me, Master of the Universe, and try me etc1 etc. then he went up to the roof of the royal palace from which he saw a lady etc.2". Batsheva was washing her hair behind a screen. The Satan came disguised as a bird. [King David] aimed an arrow at the bird and hit the screen, whereby she was revealed and he saw her. At once "King David sent to enquire about the lady etc.". In this respect it is written (Psalms 17, 3): "You have examined me and found nothing in my thoughts which is not fit my mouth to utter". Would that my mouth had been muzzled rather than it should have spoken those words!3". Surely these examples teach us and convey to us that all sins stem from a failure to stand firm in the service of the Lord and to overcome trials.

Notes of the translators:
[1] Psalms 26, 2
[2] For the whole story consult the Second Book of Samuel 11.
[3] King David regrets his previous request to be tried

The whole book Tzemach Tzadik in Hebrew (printed in Rashi characters) can be downloaded in PDF format and read online at Chapter 31 about irresolution is found at pages 61-62.