Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest. — Exodus 28:3
The Torah portion for this week is Tetzaveh, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 27:20–30:10, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 43:10–27.
As a society, we have become conditioned to associate knowledge with the mind, making our heads the seat of our wisdom. However, the Bible doesn’t attribute wisdom to our heads. Instead, in numerous places, the Bible teaches us that wisdom comes from the heart.
In this week’s Torah portion, God commanded Moses, “Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom . . . that they are to make garments for Aaron.” A careful look at the original Hebrew verse reveals that the term skilled comes from two Hebrew words which literally mean “wise of heart.” God called these workers “wise of heart” because it was into their hearts, not their heads, that He placed such knowledge and understanding to make them fit for such a holy task.
Why, then, do we tend to think of our brains as the source of knowledge?
It’s because our brains do contain a lot of knowledge. Somewhat like computers, our brains are able to store facts and information. Our minds are incredible tools that God gave us to be able to remember important things like how to do math, spell tough words, or remember the date of a special anniversary. But none of that information, as important as it might be, is wisdom. Wisdom is something deeper and broader. It doesn’t just pull up useful bits of knowledge; it tells us what to do and how to live.
It has been said that “the heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” The wisdom of the heart comes from a place to which the mind cannot always relate. Some call it intuition; others call it God. The heart accesses a whole body of wisdom that is inaccessible to the mind.
Whenever we have an important decision to make, it is so important that we go to the seat of wisdom for our answers. While our minds can provide us with important and indispensable knowledge and facts, we must always remember that the real source of wisdom comes from our heart.
The Bible tells us that the High Priest wore a special garment called the breastpiece over his heart. Whenever the nation needed guidance from God, the letters on the breastpiece would form the answer, “Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD” (Exodus 28:30).
While we don’t have the breastpiece today, we can still receive God’s guidance through our hearts. Remember to pray to God for answers whenever we seek guidance – and then listen with our hearts to the wisdom which He sends to us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President