When calling on all of Bnei Yisrael to help in the assembly of the Mishkan, Hashem refers to those who will choose to assist as “VeChol Chacham Leiv Bachem,” “And all wise of heart within you” (Shemot 35:10). Such a statement seems out of the ordinary; usually, wisdom is mentioned and associated with the brain. Why then does the Torah here refer to Chochmah as wisdom of the heart, which is usually associated with emotion?
To answer this seeming contradiction, Rav Eliezer Shach quotes a Mishnah from Pirkei Avot which states, “Eizehu Chacham? HaLomeid MiKol Adam,” “Who is wise? One who learns from all people” (4:1). At a cursory glance, this Mishnah seems to be quite strange. It doesn’t ask, as one might expect, “How does one gain wisdom?” Rather, the Mishnah inquires as to “Who is wise?” implying that the person has already gained knowledge before being labeled as wise. In addition, the Mishnah’s answer appears odd as well: how does learning from all people make one wise?
Rabbeinu Yonah’s commentary on this Mishnah provides a tremendous insight regarding the issue and an answer to the problem. He relates that the wise gentiles stated that one who has a vast array of knowledge but does not love knowledge is not considered to be wise; rather he is actually considered to be a fool. However, one who loves knowledge and has a strong desire for knowledge, even if he does not know everything, is considered wise because he will eventually receive the knowledge he craves. Similarly, the Mishnahh is attempting to convey the message that only one who possesses such a yearning for knowledge that he is willing to learn from anyone can truly be considered wise.
In light of this, one can easily understand why the Torah refers to the people who choose to aid in the building of the parts of the Mishkan as “wise-hearted.” The Keilim could not have been constructed by people who simply had knowledge but did not have an equally strong fervor for the job. The crucial task of assembling the sacred vessels specifically required the assistance of those people who loved the knowledge they received and used their passions to acquire knowledge.
If we are able to internalize this idea and apply it to our learning and quest for knowledge, tremendous progress and achievements can be gained. Not only will we be able to amass a great deal of understanding, but we also may eventually garner respect for our eagerness to absorb knowledge from everyone.