"A Wise Heart "
Rabbi Eizik Charif zt'l was known throughout the European Torah
world as a brilliant scholar besides being very sharp ('Charif' is the
Hebrew word for sharp). When his daughter reached marriageable age, Rabbi
Eizik traveled to one of the prominent Yeshivos of that era to find a
suitable match. He stood at the front of the Bais Medrash and announced
that anyone who would be able to reconcile a very complex difficulty he
had in a Gemarah would be worthy of marrying his daughter. The
prospective chassanim toiled and sweated over the question for hours on
end hoping to find a satisfying answer. After a few days however, Rabbi
Eizik was unhappy with any of the responses and was preparing to leave
town for another yeshiva. As his coach began to depart, he heard a cry
from behind him. He stopped the coach to find one of the bochurim running
toward him. He sat the bochur down and asked him if he could be of
assistance. The bochur looked at him and said, "I know no one could think
of an answer to merit your daughter but what was the answer to the
question anyway?" Rabbi Eizik was ecstatic and replied, "You will be the
husband of my daughter. You may not possess the most brilliant mind but
you strive to know and understand the truth, and there is nothing greater
After Hakadosh Boruch Hu commanded Moshe about how to build the
Mishkan, He began to teach Moshe about the priestly garments. (Shemos
28:2) "V'atah tidaber el kol chachmei lev asher milaysiv ruach chochmah
v'asu es bigdei Aharon likadsho lichahano li- And you shall speak to all
those that possess a 'wise heart' that I have filled with a spirit of
wisdom and they shall make the garments of Aharon to sanctify him and
make him into a priest for me."
What is a wise heart? Why was only one that possessed such a
heart worthy of receiving the special spirit of wisdom needed to create
the priestly garments? It would seem that a regular person wouldn't be
able to participate?
In Parshas Pinchas, Hashem commanded Moshe to perform several
steps to prepare Yehoshua to lead the nation after Moshe's death.
(Bamidbar 27:18) "Vayomer Hashem el Moshe kach lichah es Yehoshua bin Nun
ish asher ruach bo v'samachta es yadcha alav- And Hashem said to Moshe:
take Yehoshua bin Nun, a man that possesses a spirit, and lean your hands
on him." What does it mean that Yehoshua possessed a unique spirit?
The Ramban in Parshas Shelach explains that when the Torah lists the
names of the meraglim (spies) they are written in order of their
greatness. The name of Yehoshua appears fifth on the list. Therefore
there were people in Klal Yisroel who were greater than Yehoshua. If so,
why was Yehoshua chosen to lead Klal Yisroel after Moshe?
The Sforno (in Pinchas) explains that Yehoshua was, "Muchan likabel ohr
p'nei melech chaim ka'inyan uvilev kol chachmei lev nasati chachmah-
Prepared to accept the face of the living G-d, similar to (the words of
the pasuk in Shemos) 'And in the heart of every wise heart I have placed
wisdom.' The greatness of Yehoshua was that he was always seeking and
striving for greater and loftier levels. The Medrash says that when Moshe
ascended Har Sinai, Yehoshua waited at the foot of the mountain for all
40 days in anticipation and excitement for Moshe's return. One who has a
wise heart is one who wants, more than anything, to become greater. He is
never satisfied with himself and is always looking to grow. Such a person
is worthy to be blessed with added wisdom in order to make the priestly
garments that the Kohanim would wear during the avodah (G-dly service).
A yeshiva bochur once asked Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz zt'l how it is
possible for one to learn and master all of Shas (the Babylonian Talmud)?
Rabbi Chaim replied "If you want to master Shas, you have make yourself
sick over Shas! It must become your complete passion and aspiration, and
you must constantly concentrate on that goal until you finally finish."
A Jew can never be satisfied with his spiritual level. Reaching
greatness does not necessarily require brains and brilliance but rather
diligence and patience until one succeeds.
The pasuk in Mishley (10:7) says, "Chacham lev yikach mitzvos- A
wise heart takes mitzvos." The Medrash (Shemos 20:19) applies this pasuk
to Moshe Rabbeinu because while all of Klal Yisroel was busy amassing the
wealth of Mitzrayim, Moshe was locating the bones of Yosef so he could
take them when they left Mitzrayim and thereby fulfill Klal Yisroel's
promise to Yosef.
Why is Moshe called wise for taking the bones of Yosef; taking
the wealth of Mitzrayim was also a mitzvah, for Hashem had commanded them
to do so?
One answer is that Moshe had a choice of which of the two mitzvos
to perform. His heart drove him to do the one that would lead to more
mitzvos. Moshe foresaw that because Klal Yisroel received the wealth too
easily they would not know how to handle it and eventually it would be
used improperly. Indeed Klal Yisroel stumbled because of their money and
they made the golden calf. Moshe also understood that if he takes the
bones of Yosef, every step that he carries them in the desert is another
mitzvah. In this way Moshe would be performing a mitzvah every time they
traveled during the forty years in the desert. This was Moshe's 'wise
heart' and that is why he was worthy of leading Klal Yisroel. Though
Yehoshua was not the most prominent of Moshe's disciples, he acquired
this great trait of Moshe to constantly strive for greatness and
therefore he too became the leader.
Rabbi Pesach Mikovrin zt'l is the author of two volumes of great insights
and chiddushim (novel ideas) on mesechtos (tractates) of Shas. In the
introduction to the sefer there is a story written about how he became
such a great Talmudic personality.
Originally, Rabbi Pesach was the Mashgiach (spiritual guide) in
the great yeshiva of Slutzk (headed by the famed Rabbi Isser Zalman
Meltzer zt'l). Rabbi Pesach was well-versed in philosophy and Jewish
thought but was not such a great Talmudic scholar. He traveled to Rabbi
Chaim Brisker zt'l to ask if he should quit his position and begin to
learn full time. Rabbi Chaim told him that he should continue to serve as
Mashgiach and learn Gemarah at night.
One day a few bochurim were discussing a question they had in a
passage of Gemarah. Rabbi Pesach overheard the question and offered his
own explanation. The Bochurim said nothing but he noticed that they were
smirking and understood that his approach did not make much sense. Rabbi
Pesach was so upset that he put his head down on his Gemarah and began
crying profusely, davening that Hashem should help him succeed in
learning. That night Rabbi Pesach had a dream that he would indeed now be
able to learn and he should continue applying himself. Rabbi Pesach
renewed his dedication and eventually grew to become a famous Rosh
Yeshiva and Talmudic scholar.
In society today one is judged based on his accomplishments. In
the business world no one is interested in effort; the only focus is in
the magnitude of production. In school, dreaded report cards are replete
with marks and grades but often do not reflect the hours of effort the
student put in.
Hashem does not look at production. Chazal say, "Ayn Hakadosh
Boruch Hu moneh hadafin elah hashaos- G-d does not count the pages but
the hours." Although accomplishment is wonderful G-d cares more about how
hard one toiled to reach his accomplishment than the accomplishment
itself. One who strives for greatness but does not reach it, is far
greater than one who reaches greatness without effort.
(NOTE: MY UNCLE POINTED OUT TO ME THAT THE RAMBAM IN MOREH NEVUCHIM ALSO
TRANSLATES THE KERUVIM OF PARSHAS TERUMAH AS PEACEFUL ANGELS AS MY
GRANDFATHER'S REBBI HAD SAID.)