Thursday, March 23, 2017

Our Latent Talents

 Ma’amar by the Tolna Rebbe Shlita

 The construction of the Mishkan was led by Betzalel, who was designated for this role by HKB”H Himself, as Moshe told Bnai Yisrael: ראו קרא ה' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה... “See that G-d has called the name of Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur…” (Shemos 35:30). The question arises, why did Moshe tell the people to “see” that HKB”H assigned this role to Betzalel? The term ראו generally denotes vision, seeing something tangible with one’s eyes. What did Moshe want the people to “see” when he told them of Betzalel’s designation? 

Each Person’s Unique Talents 

Rav Moshe Feinstien zt”l (Derash Moshe, Parshas Vayakhel, p. 72) explained that as Betzalel, who was just thirteen at the time, was chosen from among the entire nation, from among the 600,000 men of this דעה דור – this generation of special wisdom – the people would want to know why specifically he was uniquely suited for this role. They would want to know why he, and only he, was capable of completing this very difficult task. And thus in the following pasuk Moshe describes to Bnai Yisrael Betzalel’s unique level of wisdom: וימלא אותו רוח אלוקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת ובכל מלאכה. “He has filled him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, understanding and [the ability to perform] every task…” Moshe was telling the people to see and take note of the fact that HKB”H had endowed Betzalel with special wisdom and knowledge, and granted him unique talents and strengths. And this was the greatest possible indicator and clearest possible proof that Betzalel had indeed been chosen for the role of leading the construction of the Mishkan. The message that this conveys is that HKB”H has implanted within each and every person special talents and capabilities that nobody else has. Many times, however, people fail to believe in themselves, in their talents and abilities, and do not recognize their immense worth, that they have unique skills and are capable of many outstanding accomplishments. The yetzer ha’ra works with all its might to prove to a person that he is incapable of achieving anything. The way to defeat the yetzer ha’ra and foil this plan is to know that it all depends on our actions and the strength of our spirit, as Iyov (32:8) said, "אכן באנוש היא רוח” Indeed, the human being has a spirit. A person’s spirit is capable of withstanding any challenge, and we just need to believe in our capabilities. 

With this in mind, we can perhaps understand a puzzling passage in Tanna De’bei Eliyahu (18:12). Citing the pasuk in Eicha (2:19), Arise and rejoice at night, at the beginning of the watches, Eliyahu Ha’navi explained that this refers to HKB”H’s compassion for His people in times of distress, and even when they sin: ברוך המקום ברוך הוא שרחמיו הם מרובין על ישראל לעולם. אע"פ שסרחו במעשיהם לפני הקב"ה והקב"ה כועס עליהן, אעפ"כ רחמים שלו עליהם בכל יום תמיד... אמר הקב"ה: בכל צער וצער שיש לישראל כביכול אני עמהם, שנאמר בכל צרתם  לו צר. אל תיקרי לו צר אלא לי צר... Blessed is the Almighty, blessed is He, for His compassion upon Yisrael is eternally abundant. Even when they act improperly before the Almighty and the Almighty is angry at them, nevertheless, His compassion is upon then, always, every day… The Almighty said: During each and every trouble which Yisrael faces, I am with them, as it were. For it says (Yeshayahu 63:9), “In all their distress, He is in distress.” Do not read it as, “He is in distress,” but rather, “I am in distress.” The pasuk therefore instructs, בלילה רני קומי ,to rejoice even in the night, during times of darkness and suffering, knowing that even amid the hardship, His compassion is still with us.

 The Tanna De’bei Eliyahu then proceeds to explain the next phrase in this pasuk:   Pour forth your heart like water in the presence of G-d.” These words, the Tanna De’bei Eliyahu explains, refers to the fact that HKB”H is with a person whenever he learns Torah: מכאן אמרו כל ת"ח שיושב וקורא ושונה ועוסק בתורה הקב"ה יושב כנגדו וקורא ושונה עמו...ואלולי שהדבר כתוב אי אפשר לאומרו, וכל האומרו היה חייב מיתה. On this basis it was said: Any Torah scholar who sits and reads, studies and engages in Torah – the Almighty sits opposite him and reads and studies with him… And if this had not been written, it would have been impossible to say it, and whoever said it would have been liable to death. 

When we engage in Torah, Eliyahu Ha’navi taught, we are  נוכח פני השם – in the presence of HKB”H, who “sits opposite” us, as it were. Seemingly, according to the Tanna De’bei Eliyahu’s interpretation of this pasuk, its two segments have nothing to do with one another. The first segment – קומי רוני בלילה – tells us of HKB”H’s compassion for us during times of hardship and distress – and the second – שפכי כמים לבך נוכח פני השם – tells us that HKB”H is present when we learn Torah. What is the connection between these two concepts? Eliyahu Ha’navi is teaching us that the way to strengthen ourselves during times of distress is by recognizing that whenever any Jew, regardless of his low stature, sits and learns Torah, the Creator of the universe turns away from all His other affairs, as it were, and comes next to him to learn right across from him to help him and assist him. Recognizing just how precious each and every one of us is can give us the encouragement we need to overcome any hardship or challenge. We need to remember that every individual has the power to bring the Shechina down to where he is to help him and protect him. If we awaken our hearts to this power, and recognize our inestimable value in HKB”H’s eyes, then HKB”H will hear our cries and come to bring us our long-awaited final redemption במהרה במינו אמן!!