Keeping to the Old Ways of our Tzaddikim

Direct yourself to walk in good paths and the ways of the Tzaddikim keep.

The Malbim in Moser Chochma states that this posuk refers to looking at all the details of how Tzadikim conduct themselves in order to perform justice before Hashem beyond the letter of the law in each of their matters.

We could take from this posuk, and especially from the Malbim, a great principle in avodas Hashem. In the next perek it says that you shouldn’t rely on your own understanding, rather you must seek to learn from a rov, according to Rashi. The Metzudos Dovid says this means to rely on Hashem rather than yourself and ask Him for understanding, but that’s a different discussion. We can say that what Shlomoh HaMelech is trying to tell us here is to look to the previous generations of Tzaddikim, and to learn their minhagim. Every practice from the old Tzaddikim was rooted in Sodos HaTorah (Secrets of the Torah) and inyonim (matters) elevated beyond our understanding. Im yirtzeh Hashem, eventually we can understand through learning their Torah and following their paths. This is the great merit of the various sifrei minhagim that detail the practices of the Tzaddikim, such as Darkei Chaim V’Sholom about the minhagim of the Munkatcher Rebbe, Darkei Chaim of the Tzanzer Rebbe, and various other sorts of seforim as these. Even such simple customs as what food to eat on Shabbos or how to button your coat carry vast meaning, far beyond what we on our current level of understanding and personally holiness could fully grasp.

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