Basic Explanation - Chapter 1
The realities of the world often mislead us to believe that the path to success, fortune and happiness is through corruption and sin, whereas piety leads one to poverty and despondency. It often appears as though the righteous are destined to suffer humiliation and degradation at the hands of the arrogance and deceit of the wicked, for whom the comforts and delights of the world are reserved. David Ha'melech begins the Book of Tehillim by dispelling this grave misconception, by declaring unequivocally, "Ashrei Ha'ish Asher Lo Halach Ba'atzat Resha'im." The person who heroically resists the influences exerted upon him by the various manifestations of evil in the world, who, rather than joining "the company of scoffers," joins the company of the Almighty, His Torah and its scholars, is truly "fortunate." This chapter applauds the righteous man who can look beyond the short-term successes of the wicked, and ignore their cynical rejection and scorn of all that is sacred and spiritually meaningful. He desires neither their approval nor their friendship, "for his desire is in the Torah of God, and in it he engages day and night." In reward for his steadfast loyalty to Torah in the face of derision and mockery, the righteous man is promised success and prosperity comparable to a tree securely rooted near a dependable water source. Torah observance may at times appear as the less secure route, the choice that brings with it sacrifice and great risk. David informs us here that quite to the contrary, it is Torah that offers that securest guarantee of good fortune. In verse 5, we are told that the wicked will not survive the final day of judgment, and will never earn a place "Ba'adat Tzadikim" – among the community of the righteous. In this world, it is the sinners who exert influence and entice the masses to join their ranks. But on the day of final judgment, everybody will rush to join the "Adat Tzadikim," to be counted among the select group of upright, ethical and righteous men. Only then will all people come to the realization that the path of sin and evil leads to destruction, while the path of faith and observance brings one to eternal happiness and good fortune.