A Good Heart

The following phrases are part of everyday speech and are not taken literally: “She poured out her heart”, “a broken heart”, “a heart of gold” and “a heart of stone”.

What about “a generous heart (nediv lev)”, “a man whose heart lifted him up (nesao lebo)” and “a wise heart (chacham lev)” can those expressions from Parshat Vayakhel be understood at face value or do they have a deeper meaning?

Let’s take a look at these expressions in the context of Parshat Vayakhel:

Vayakhel 35:5: “Take from yourselves ‘terumah’, a portion for God, ‘kol nediv lebo’, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for God: gold, silver and copper…”

Rashi states on the words “nediv lebo” in Vayakhel 35:5 that since it is the heart that inspires a person to give, he is called generous of heart.

Vayakhel 35:21: “Everyone ‘ish asher nesa’o lebo’ whose heart lifted him up came and everyone ‘nedava rucho’ whose spirit motivated him brought the portion…”

Ramban explains that “nesao lebo” in Vayakhel 35:21 refers to those who came to actually do the work of weaving, sewing, building etc., not those who merely brought donations (nediv lev). While working as slaves in Egypt, they never even saw silver, gold or precious stones and they certainly did not have the opportunity to learn these crafts or to be trained.  Rather, a person who felt in their nature that they knew how to do such skills, his heart was lifted up in the ways of God (Divrei Ha Yamim II 17:6) to come to Moshe and say “I will do all that God speaks”.

Vayakhel 35:25: “Every ‘chochmat lev’, wise hearted woman spun with her hands…

Vayakhel 35:26: “All the women ‘asher nasa leban otana bechochma’ whose hearts inspired them with wisdom, spun the goat hair.

Rashbam points out that the definition of chochmat lev in sentence 25 is a smart woman.

Rashi comments that the women in sentence 26 take it a step further “those whose hearts inspired them with wisdom” actually refers to women with a special skill since they spun it while it was still on the animals’ backs.

We can learn from here that giving tzedaka with a full heart (because you really want to and not just because it is an obligation) is great. However, an even greater level is rolling up your sleeves and actively being involved in the hands on mitzvah of using your talents in order to truly give of yourself with a full heart.