“Without strategy a people will fall, while there is victory in a multitude of counselors.” Proverbs 11:14
Generally, that sounds right. But can the Hebrew help us understand what this proverb teaches at a more profound level?
At the outset, we encounter the word, tachbulot, which is often translated as strategy or counsel. But, since we’re taught the consequences for a people without it are severe, we should strive to attain the best understanding of tachbulot we can.
This virtue is among the key attributes/skills discussed in the Prologue. What do we learn there? It is about strategy, yes. But it’s more. It’s also a sophisticated skill that gives direction and design to deliberation, planning, and execution.
Curiously, the word, tachbulot, has a kinship to the Hebrew words for sailor (hobel) and rope in a ship (hebel). Could it be that we’re talking about a discreet skill, that is, in good part, learned, and that involves discernment in how successfully to steer or navigate, as we would a course in life?
Even more, the proverb is teaching us about a very important and specific skill the people (including its leaders and defenders) require to guide them in order to survive.
I’ll refrain here from taking sides in matters of modern day politics and culture. But let’s do put this question on the table for consideration: to what extent do we risk failing as a people when our leaders and we lack the essential skill of tachbulot?
That should keep us up at night.
We see in the second part of our teaching the promise of victory if we follow a multitude of counselors (and counseling) that are imbued with virtues from Proverbs.
Intuitively, and historically, we know the soundness of this advice. Yet, in the criteria we use to select those who counsel, we too seldom prize wisdom and understanding, judgment and tachbulot.
If we’re to win, we must turn back to the good sense of our tradition.