From The Complainer (#379) by Rabbi Avigdor Miller
It says in Mishlei, “Chacham atzel b’einav mishivam mishivei taam — A lazy man is wiser in his own opinion than seven who speak to him with logic.” Let’s say in a certain yeshiva, it’s in the morning time, it’s already past 9:30, and the mashgiach (monitor) sees that one of the talmidim (students) is missing.
He inquires so he is told he’s still in the dormitory. He goes upstairs and he finds that party lying in bed, and he speaks to him about the necessity of coming down to the seder. So this young man lying in bed begins speaking logic. And he gives excellent arguments why it’s not necessary to get out of bed now.
The mashgiach may feel that he has come up short, he needs assistance, so let’s imagine he calls up the mashgichim of six more yeshivas. Brooklyn, Manhattan — and they all come down quickly with car service and seven of them are standing around his bed and each one is explaining to him the necessity of getting out of bed. So Shlomo Hamelech says, chacham atzel b’einav, the lazy man is in his own eyes wiser, mishivam mishivei taam, than seven people who speak with taam, with wisdom to him.
Bad middos cause a person to think that he is right and everybody else is wrong
Now they’re going to speak to him not only with emotion, they’re going to tell him reasons why he should get out of bed. But he is able to refute everything they say. It doesn’t mean they’ll agree with his reputation, but he is satisfied that he is speaking logically enough to refute their words.
Now we’re learning the secrets of human nature. And Shlomo Hamelech is divulging this secret to us, and it’s a secret that all of us have to know is true about every one of us. Laziness is a middah, it’s a quality of character. It’s a trait, and the laziness influences his way of thinking. He is so bribed by that middah; it seems to him that he is talking logic and they are all silly people. That’s how the traits of character operate. They cause a person to think that he is right and everybody else is wrong.
If we’ll examine all the different facets of human activity, why certain people do certain things even after being told that they ought to change their ways, we’re going to discover that the secret of their logic, all their good arguments, all their scholarship: they’re going to cite pesukim (verses) and maamarei chazal (statements of the sages) to support themselves. But in truth, the basis of everything is the quality of character that is motivating them.