Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

“Wise of Heart”
By Rabbi Ira Rosenfeld, ’08

This week’s Torah portion[s] Vayakhel-Pekudei, begins with Moses gathering the Israelites to give them instructions about the Sabbath, followed by directions for providing gifts for the building of the Tabernacle.  Verse 35:10 reads:  “V’chol chacham lev bachem yavo’u v’ya’asu et kol asher tzivah Adonai.”

I find the term “chacham lev” to be interesting.  Chacham is translated as “wise,” and lev means “heart.”  So, strictly translated, “chacham lev” means “wise heart.”  Yet, various translations refer to this term differently.  The New JPS translation of verse 35:10 is:  “And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Lord has commanded.”  Hertz translates “chacham lev” as “wise-hearted.”  However, he adds the footnote to look at a similar term used in 28:3, “chachmei lev,” where he added a thought-provoking commentary:  “wise-hearted.  In Bible psychology, the heart is the seat of intellect, not of feeling.”  Abarbenel seems to refer to “chacham lev” as “skilled labor” as he comments that: “The work of skilled artisans is also a contribution.”  In other words, while some may contribute gold, silver, etc., others can contribute their expertise in building the Tabernacle.

For me, there is a great lesson for all of us here.  However we translate this term, to be a “chacham lev,” involves: “…yavo’u v’ya’asu (come and do.)”  We live in a time with overwhelming blessings of technology and culture that can keep us occupied indefinitely.  We can surf the web, add friends to our Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, stream live videos and movies, watch highlights of events around the world, and have everything we need delivered to our homes.  Basically, we can spend our entire lives interacting with no one, except the delivery person to sign for packages, and still feel like we are in touch and a part of the real world.  While this may be true to an extent, it seems to me that if one is to truly be “wise of heart,” if one is to utilize one’s emotion and intellect in a meaningful and positive way, one must “come and do.”  Without a sense of community and family that we feel obliged to be involved with, we are doomed to a life of loneliness and disconnect, an existence lacking purpose and meaning.

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we can find our own inner “chacham lev,” and that we can all find ways to “yavo’u v’ya’asu.”   May we all find our inner strength, skill, and unique gifts, and find ways to “come and do,” the things that will improve our lives and the world.   

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