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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5772

Ein Ayah: Inborn Intellectual Talent

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:31)

Gemara:     Rabbi Yochanan said: Hashem gives wisdom only to those who have wisdom, as the pasuk says: “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have insight” (Daniel 2:21)… Rabbi Avahu said: We learn it from here. “… and in the heart of the wise-hearted I gave wisdom” (Shemot 31:6).


Ein Ayah:    Wisdom depends on two things. One of them is studying with diligence and adding knowledge and experience. However, the main thing is natural talent, for one who has natural intellectual talent from the time of his creation will improve properly in wisdom as he toils in it. Someone who is missing the inborn ability will not be able to obtain real wisdom even with great toil. The reason is that wisdom is not something external that can be acquired with time and effort. Rather, there is something internal in the soul that is sensitive to wisdom and is able to integrate all the detailed pieces of information into the general concept of wisdom. Certainly if one is born with the potential, it increases along with hard work, as the Rabbis say: “You toiled and you found [Torah wisdom] – believe it” (Megilla 6b). Granted, it is possible for someone lacking internal talent to possess a lot of information, but he will not be able to be wise in the real sense of the word.

Regarding talents that have to do with the feelings of the spirit, it is well known that one will not develop a special talent without having the inborn proclivity for it. This is true for high-level artists and musicians. In truth it is so not only regarding the wisdom of the arts but also for all types of wisdom. Full wisdom is only that which ‘spreads out’ over all the kochot hanefesh (powers of the spirit) and joins up with the internal talent to fill the spirit with its grandeur. This is the reason that Hashem gives wisdom only to those who are wise.

It is appropriate that this lesson is learned from what the Torah says about those who had wisdom in the crafts of carpentry and fine weaving, which require a special type of internal talent and sensitivity. It is interesting that the Torah calls this chochma (wisdom). This shows that the general element of all wisdom comes from an internal quality of the spirit. Whoever was granted such a spirit can grow to heights in his area, each person according to his talents. Any type of general wisdom will not be complete unless it is connected internally in such a way that it can be called “wisdom of the heart,” and only then will Hashem give him the wisdom he needs to take the wisdom to the next level. That which Chazal said: “You toiled and you did not find [success in Torah], do not believe it” is talking only about knowledge and understanding of specific subjects of Torah and wisdom. However, to become one who is generally worthy of being called a wise person, not just one who has amassed knowledge, the talent must be there for the effort to work. Since the goals of wisdom, repentance, and good deeds depend on a feeling for straightness and internal justice, the special nature of wisdom is always connected to an internal feeling.

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