Vayakhel – Skillful Logic

Have you ever wondered why some successful sport coaches never played professional sports when they were younger, or tried and were bad at playing but were good at coaching? What’s the logic behind that? If they are so good why can’t they play?

We find a logical reason to this quandary in this week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel. Both men and women participated in the building of the Mishkan. The Torah states, “Every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands; and they brought the spun yarn of turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool and linen. All the women whose heart inspired them with wisdom spun goat hair” (Shemos 35:25, 26).

The Rokeach, one of the great Rishonim, asked, “How else do you spin thread if not with your hands? Rather because there are women who are wise-hearted that can teach others but can’t work with her hands to spin well, therefore [the Torah writes] ‘spun with her hands’. And then the men would bring the spun threads [to the ones in charge.]” We see that the Rokeach pointed out that not all women, even those that are experts at teaching spinning are good with their hands and are able to spin themselves even if they are wise-hearted. The Rokeach points out in the next pasuk, “[women] whose ‘heart inspired them’ is better than one who has a giving spirit for one whose heart inspired them is one whose heart is beating to be tested to see if she can do something great. They spun goat hair while it was still flowing from the live goat [as we find in Shabbos 74b].” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
We see in this pasuk that these women didn’t just want to give but they had a passion to put their heart and minds into going above and beyond the norm and do their skill in a unique way which obviously must have been more productive for the sake of building the Mishkan the most practical and efficient way possible. Why can’t the skillfully hearted lady who is an expert at teaching other ladies how to spin but doesn’t have the hands to do it herself use her inspired heart to go above and beyond her natural self and figure out how to use her hands to spin herself?

However, the truth of the matter is that Hashem creates each individual with their own purpose in life and with the tools to fulfill that purpose. So, this woman who is an expert teacher in teaching others how to spin thread and might have many practical tips and tricks on how to be creative, efficient, and practical at spinning but even if her heart is inspired, she will never be handy at spinning because that was not what Hashem meant for her to do. So, the inspired heart can only elevate her creativity and ideas to a new level with what she is able to work with but she cannot go beyond the means that Hashem gave her.
So to the sports coach or manager might have a very creative playbook and has the motivation, skill, and patience to run a winning team but he didn’t have the physical body to be a great player because that wasn’t Hashem’s purpose for him.

We see from here that we have to figure out what Hashem’s purpose for us is in life, which can be very subtle because a person might be an expert in a field in theory but can only teach it and not actually do it. There are others that can do it but aren’t made to teach it to others but once one knows his or her strengths then he or she can inspire him or herself to do things, that are above and beyond the normal realm if he or she is inspired to fulfill his or her full potential.

Inventors have to start from somewhere, but they aren’t successful without the motivation, inspiration, and patience to eventually succeed.