Shabbat Vayakhel – Wise Hearted

Prof. Peter Salovey is the current President of Yale University and a famous social psychologist.  Much less known is his “Yichus”, i.e. his lineage. Namely, the scholar is a descendant of the illustrious Soloweichik family.

Together with two other colleagues, he has established the term EQ – or “Emotional intelligence” which is a relatively new method to measure a person’s overall intelligence. (Until the 90th the usual measurements would only refer to IQ as a measuring instrument).

I find it interesting though that the Torah, (ca 1300 BCE…) mentions 6 times (!) in this week’s Parsha the term “Wise hearted”:  “And every wise hearted person among you shall come and make everything that G-d has commanded)

וְכׇל־חֲכַם־לֵ֖ב בָּכֶ֑ם יָבֹ֣אוּ וְיַעֲשׂ֔וּ אֵ֛ת כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֖ה יְהֹוָֽה׃                  

Although there is no clear definition in the Torah as to what “wise hearted” means, Chazal describe Moshe Rabeinu as “Wise hearted” and attribute it to the fact that during the Exodus from Egypt, everyone else was busy gathering physical goods, (which was a Mitzva on its own) – but Moshe Rabeinu was busy searching for the bones of Yosef Hatzadik in order to take the coffin with them to Eretz Yisrael. This gives us a clue as to what the title means: Someone who can mix emotional feelings with “cold” knowledge, and base his decisions on both.

Fast forward some 3000 years. The above-mentioned Soloweichik family is very well known as a highly scholarly “dynasty”. However, it is also rumoured that while Rav Chaim Soloweichik (famous Rabbi of Brisk) was a man of enormous Talmudic knowledge, he was also charitable to the extreme. His family members knew that at times they would come home during the freezing winter evenings to find strangers sleeping in their own beds. The Rav could not resist taking homeless people into the family’s own private accommodation. He was, it seems, a “Wise hearted” person.

Perhaps Peter Salovey had “Inherited the knowledge”…?

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld