A Spark Within the Heart by Eli Hyman


In the beginning of Parashat Tetzaveh, Hashem commands Moshe to make special clothing for his brother Aharon, the Kohein Gadol. For this particular task, Hashem tells Moshe to gather people specifically who have a special type of heart - one filled with Divine wisdom. “VeAtah Tedabeir El Kol Chachmei Leiv Asher Mileitiv Ruach Chochmah VeAsu Et Bigdei Aharon LeKadsho, LeChahano Li,” “Speak to all the wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, and they shall make Aharon's garments to sanctify him, [so] that he may serve Me [as a Kohein]” (Shemot 28:3).

Looking at this Pasuk, it is not so clear what type of person Hashem wants for this mission. From the first few words of the Pasuk, “Tedabeir El Kol Chachmei Leiv,” it seems that Hashem is telling Moshe to appoint people who are already wise-hearted. But the rest of the Pasuk, “Asher Mileitiv Ruach Chochmah,” seems to suggest that Hashem wants people within whom He imbued Ruach Chochmah - a special, divinely ordained spirit of wisdom that was given to them specifically for this task. Which one is it? If the former is correct, why would the Torah state, “Asher Mileitiv Ruach Chochmah?” And if the latter is correct, why would the Torah precede “Asher Milaytiv Ruach Chochmah” with “Kol Chachmei Leiv?”

Perhaps there is a third possibility. Maybe these select people were wise-hearted from before, but Hashem now grants them additional Divine wisdom specifically for this mission. If this is correct, what exactly does Hashem give them? And why would He imbue this Divine wisdom specifically in those who were already wise hearted before?

To answer this question, Rav Mordechai Kamenetzky, in his book The Parsha Parables Anthology, cites the following story told by Rav Sholom Schwadron about Rav Yaakov Kranz, the Dubno Maggid.


The Dubno Maggid once spoke in a town, and a few Maskilim (members of the Enlightenment movement) attended. After the talk, one of the cynics, who was completely unaffected by the Maggid’s warm and inspiring message, approached the famed Maggid. “The Sages tell us,” the skeptic began, “that ‘words from the heart penetrate the heart.’ Rabbi,” he snickered, “I assume that you spoke from your heart. Your words, however, have had no impact on me whatsoever! How can that be? Why didn’t your words penetrate my heart?”

Rav Kranz smiled. In his usual fashion, he began with a parable. “A simpleton once went by the workplace of a blacksmith who was holding a large bellows. After a few squeezes, the flames of the smith’s fire danced with a rage. The simple man, who always found it difficult to start a fire in his own fireplace, marveled at the contraption. He immediately purchased the amazing invention. Entering his home, he smugly announced, “I just discovered how to make a raging fire with the simple squeeze of a lever!”

He set a few logs in the cold fireplace and began to push the two ends of the bellows together. Nothing happened. The logs lay cold and lifeless. Embarrassed, the man returned to the blacksmith and explained his predicament. “I want a refund!” he shouted. “This blower doesn’t work!”

“You yokel,” the experienced blacksmith laughed, “You were blowing on cold logs! You must start a small fire on your own. If you don’t start with a spark, the fire will never erupt!”

The Maggid then turned toward the Maskil and shook his head sadly. “If there is no spark, the largest bellows will not make a fire.”


According to Rav Kamenetzky, Hashem tells Moshe that for this particular task, He wants the people within whom He imbued Ruach Chochmah, a spirit of wisdom, as shown by the words, “Asher Mileitiv Ruach Chochmah.” By preceding this phrase with “Kol Chachmei Leiv,” Hashem is telling us what type of person is worthy of receiving the Divine wisdom from Him, as Hashem doesn’t bestow it upon just anyone. In order to have received Ruach Chochmah, a person had to have previously been wise-hearted. He had to understand what it truly means to be a kind, compassionate person. He had to be devoted to God’s will, and he had to have had a strong desire for more enlightenment and more spirituality. Hashem chose the people who previously had a spark within their hearts, the people who were already wise-hearted, to ordain with the special Divine wisdom.

This idea of one needing a spark in his heart is especially relevant to us nowadays. Often we try to become inspired by hearing inspirational speakers, or by listening to motivational songs, but no matter how moving or uplifting a speech or song is, we find ourselves feeling the same as we did before. What we must realize is that we need to begin the process ourselves. We need to put a spark in our hearts by doing something to awaken ourselves. Without that initial spark, it does not matter how many motivational speeches we hear, or how many inspirational books we read - we will not feel any different. But if we put that first spark in our hearts, we can allow the world around us to ignite it and cultivate it into a raging fire full of love and passion for the Ribono Shel Olam.

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