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Posted on March 6, 2024 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

This dvar Torah was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1285 “It’s A Siman Min HaShamayim” – Is There Such A Thing? Good Shabbos!

The following thought on Parshas Vayakhel is from the sefer Nachalas Eliezer, written by Rav Eliezer Cohen, who was a mashgiach in the Gateshead Yeshiva in England.

The pasuk says, “And He filled him with the spirit of Elokim, with wisdom, with understanding, and with knowledge and with every craft.” (Shemos 35:31) The Medrash, according to the interpretation of the Etz Yosef, takes note of the verb va’y’MALEH, which means “and he filled him up.” Filling something up implies that there is already something there prior to filling it up to full capacity. So, if the pasuk says that Hashem filled up Bezalel with wisdom, it means that Bezalel was already wise.

Hashem gives wisdom to people who are already chachomim (wise people). This is reminiscent of a pasuk in Parshas Ki Sisa: “And in the heart of everyone wise of heart, I gave wisdom” (Shemos 31:6). Superficially we might ask, if a person is already a chacham-lev (wise of heart), why does he need to be given wisdom? The answer is that Hashem only gives wisdom to people who are already chachomim.

The Medrash comments that a certain Roman matron asked Rav Yosi ben Chalafta about the interpretation of a certain pasuk in Doniel (2:21): “…He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who know how to reason.” The matron protested: What is this business of G-d giving wisdom to the wise? It should say that He gives wisdom to the fools! They are the ones who really need wisdom!

Rav Yosi ben Chalafta answered her: My daughter, if you came across two individuals who wished to borrow money from you – a rich man and a poor man – to whom would you rather lend the money? She responded, “Obviously, I would lend my money to the person who already has money, so that if he loses the money I lent him, he still has other money with which to pay me back. If I lend money to a poor man and he loses it, from where will he have money to pay me back?”

Rav Yosi bar Chalafta told the matron, “Let your ears listen to that which your mouth has spoken! So too it is with wisdom. If G-d would give wisdom to the fools, they would waste it in the taverns and pool houses (i.e. indulging in foolish pleasures). Therefore, He gives wisdom to the wise, who take it and sit in the synagogues and houses of study and occupy themselves with His commandments.”

However, we can ask a big question on this Medrash. Isn’t the Medrash comparing apples to oranges? It is true that someone would rather LEND money to a wealthy person than to a poor person. But if someone is GIVING AWAY money, then clearly, it is preferable to give the money to a poor person, who does not possess any money, rather than to a rich person, who already possesses plenty of money. Lending money is a business deal, so you prefer to give it to a person who can pay it back. But that is not what the pasuk in Doniel is discussing. The pasuk is talking about GIVING wisdom to the wise. If we are talking about GIVING wisdom, Hashem should in fact GIVE it to the one who has no wisdom. What then is the parable of the Midrash?

The Nachalas Eliezer explains that we are missing the point here. When Hashem “Gives wisdom to the wise,” it is also not really a GIFT, but rather it is a LOAN. A person with true wisdom understands that the wisdom he possesses is not really his wisdom, but rather, it is on loan. (“Talent on loan from G-d”, so to speak.) When a person recognizes that the talent he has been given is “only on loan,” he realizes that he needs to guard it and do the right things with it. “It’s not mine. It is on lease.”

When someone is driving a leased car, he knows that he cannot bang it up. He is going to need to pay for the damage. He needs to return it someday. That is what the Medrash is saying. When Hashem gives us wisdom, money or anything – He is not GIVING! He is only LENDING. When you lend something precious, you lend it to a person whom you know will not abuse it or misuse it.

Therefore, chachomim are the appropriate recipients of wisdom. They realize that wisdom is a loan, which will someday be returned, and that they must use it appropriately while it is in their possession. Fools would think that the wisdom they were given is “theirs,” to do with whatever they wish. They would feel that they own it, and therefore they would abuse it.

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayakeil/Pikudei is provided below:

  • # 047 Pikuach Nefesh: To Save a Life
  • # 090 The Melacha of Carrying
  • # 138 The Melacha of Tying Knots on Shabbos
  • # 185 The Melacha of Writing
  • # 231 Making a Siyum
  • # 275 Electricity in Halacha
  • # 321 Leap Year and the Second Adar
  • # 365 The Melacha of Tearing
  • # 409 The Melacha of Melabain (Laundering)
  • # 453 Wearing A Watch on Shabbos
  • # 497 The Tefillah of B’rich Sh’mei
  • # 541 Learning Kabbalah
  • # 585 The Melacha of Trapping
  • # 629 Sitting in Judgement on Shabbos
  • # 672 The Mishebeirach in Halacha
  • # 673 Putting A Sefer Torah in the Aron
  • # 717 One Hundred Brachos A Day
  • # 761 Killing Two Birds with One Stone
  • # 805 Baruch Sh’omar, Ashrei and Yishtabach
  • # 849 Saying L’shem Yichud – A Good Idea?
  • # 893 The Unique Parshas Sh’kolim
  • # 937 Magnetic Forces
  • # 980 Siyum M’sechta: For The Past Or For The Future?
  • #1024 Turning That Old Dress Into A Cover for a Sefer Torah?
  • #1068 “This (Aron Kodesh/Ner Tamid/Window) Is Donated By”…A Good Idea
  • #1111 Paying the Baal Koreh/Chazan/Babysitter for Shabbos
  • #1154 Does The Husband’s Early Kabolas Shabbos Affect His Wife?
  • #1197 Hachana Issues: Loading Dishwasher on Shabbos; Defrosting For Yom.Tov Sheni
  • #1241 The Case of the Mishloach Manos That Was Delivered to the Wrong Person
  • #1285 “It’s A Siman Min HaShamayim”: Is There Such A Thing?
  • #1328 A Fascinating Muktzeh/Tevilas Keilim Shaila
  • #1329 Finishing a sefer of Tanach: Does It Warrant a Seudas Siyum? And Other Siyum Issues
  • #1416 Does the Prohibition of Not Taking Medicine on Shabbos Still Apply in Our Day and Age?
  • #1461 What Do the Urim ve’Tumim and Scrabble Have to Do With Each Other?
  • #1504 Must You Share Your Trade Secrets Recipes Methods? If You Don’t Can I Steal Them?
  • #1505 Giving Tzedaka for Kavod and Other Tzedaka Questions
  • #1547 Can I Buy/Bake Chometz Before Pesach With the Intention to Sell It With The Chometz

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