April 2012: Wise of Heart

A few weeks ago, we read from the parsha T’tsavveh in the book of Exodus.   In this parsha, we learn about the high priest Aaron’s sacred garments and “accessories.” For those of you unfamiliar with the passage, the Torah scrolls in our ark are dressed like Aaron with a robe and sash, a crown, and a breastplate.  Anyways, when G-d tells Moses to get artisans to make these sacred garments, he uses the terminology chachmae lav, which is translated as those with the “gift of skill.”  However, a more literal translation of this term is “wise (chacham) of heart (lav).” An interpretation cited in the Etz Chaim Chumash further clarifies that wise of heart refers to the emotional maturity earned through age and experience, rather than intellectual maturity, and that this emotional maturity is what is needed to create holy articles.

This need for emotional maturity recognized by G-d as being an essential skill so many thousands of years ago is just as relevant today. Although we are no longer creating clothing for a high priest, we are creating the modern equivalent with our houses of worship and we are the craftspeople, the chachmae lav, contributing. So, what does it mean to be wise at heart in today’s world and as a modern, Conservative Jew? It means we have the wisdom to occasionally put the community good ahead of our own needs. It means we have the wisdom to recognize that we are needed in our community and to volunteer. It means we have the wisdom to see that our financial donations are needed and to give freely. It means that we have the wisdom to understand that peace within our community, Shalom Bayit, is more important than our own egos.

Our community is blessed to have an abundance of people that are chacham lav. Some of these people have served their terms leading the community and participate by offering advice and counsel. Some of these people are currently leading the community in various capacities. And some of these people have yet to realize their potential and are the leaders of tomorrow.

Evan Wyner TBS President