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Friday, March 16, 2007

Vayakhel, Shemos 35:30, 31. Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur l’matei Yehudah....Chochmoh, tvunoh, vodaas.

Reb Meir Simchah here (Meshech Chochmoh) asks, why does the possuk list Betzalel’s yichus selectively, noting specifically his ancestors Chur and Yehudah.

He answers that one is faced with the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice, of martyrdom, close and meticulous rational analysis is untimely. When Nachshon and Shevet Yehudah were faced with the test of whether they would jump into the Red Sea, and when Chur was faced with a mob of hysterics demanding an Eigel, if Nachshon and Chur had indulged in careful critical analysis and deep consideration of the alternatives and ramifications, they never would have moved: they would have suffered from “the paralysis of analysis.” But they had the deeper wisdom and strength to do what needed to be done without hesitation, and what they did echoes throughout all time. He brings an epigram from the Chosid Yaavetz– "analysis saps the strength of the will." So, middoh k’neged middoh, Hashem filled Betzalel with wisdom. When the time came, and there was a need for careful and prudent wisdom, Hashem granted that as a gift to the descendant of these two people who had shown they knew the limits of chochmoh.

Reb Meir Simcha ends his discussion with with “vehovein.” He clearly means to say that his pshat is not just his usual standard of a brilliant and deep vort, or a new iteration of a truism. And the reason is because at first glance, he seems to be advocating imprudence and foolhardiness! This, obviously, is not what he wants us to come away with. We are, unfortunately, all too familiar with the delusional kool-aid drinkers whose acts of 'martyrdom' fill the newspapers. What, then, does he mean?

The answer is this: Reb Meir Simcha is not saying that there is an alternative to prudent wisdom. He is saying that along with chochmas hatorah, you have to develop another kind of chochmoh, and that is the chochmoh of mussor and hashkofoh. This is what the Torah means by "chochmo, tevuna, voda'as. Only when you combine Chochmas Hatorah with the Binoh of mussor and hashkofo do you come to Da'as, the knowledge of what needs to be done right now. If you only have the wisdom of havonas hatorah, you are lacking an critical part of what a ben Torah must develop. People talk about ‘the fifth shulchon oruch.’ Everyone has their own opinion of what comprises this part of shulchon oruch, and it is usually cited in support of some unsupportable and foolish opinion that contradicts daas torah. In fact, however, this part of Shulchon Oruch is not an alternative to the first four parts. The fifth shulchon oruch is the mussor and hashkofoh that cannot be written on paper. Only if a person knows and understands kol hatorah kuloh, and he also is a godol in hashkofoh and mussor, only then can he trust that his kol demomoh dakoh comes from an inculcated sense of what the right thing to do is.

My father (Shlitah) Hareini Kapparas Mishkavo, liked to say that if someone would open a store that sold common sense, it would go bankrupt, because everyone thinks he has plenty of common sense. In fact, though, common sense is a rare and precious commodity. The same is true regarding the Tevunoh VoDa'as the Torah mentions here.

In Parshas Titzaveh, 30:7, it says B’heitivo es haneiros yaktirenu. The ketores is brought in middle of the hatovas haneiros. While this is a well known halachah which many of us say before pesukei de'zimra every day, did you ever wonder why this is so? Why must we interrupt the preparation of the menorah in order to burn the ketores? Where do we find a Gzeiras Hakasuv that requires that Oseik Bemitzvah should davka stop in middle to do a different mitzvah? Reb Moshe in the original Dorash Moshe says that a talmid chochom (the menorah) needs to have a sense of smell (the ketores) – to be able to discern that something is wrong even when nothing apparent is evident, to be able to sense when people are using the Torah to trick others into following false philosophies. He brings Sanhedrin 93b about the Melech Hamoshiach who is “morach v’do’in.” He explains that this is not a din of nevu’ah, it is simply a sense that every yorei shomayim develops to some degree.

This is what Reb Meir Simcha is talking about. A talmid chochom that does not develop this extra sense, and who relies on just his wisdom, is incomplete, and he should remember that the ketores is an essential part of the hatovas hamenorah.

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