I have also given him (Betzalel) Oholiav son of Achisamakh of the tribe of Dan (as an assistant). (Besides this), I have placed wisdom in the heart of the wise. (Shemos 31/6)
Rebbi Yochanon said, “HaKodesh Baruch Hue only gives wisdom to the wise… as it is written “I have placed wisdom in the heart of the wise.” (Berachos 55/A)
The meforshim ask what is the purpose of giving wisdom to wise people? By definition, wise people have wisdom! Why then does Hashem give them something that they already have? It would be more beneficial to give wisdom to ignorant people!
Zera Shimshon answers by first quoting the gemorro in Niddah (69/b-70/a) that the citizens of Alexandria asked 12 questions to Rebbi Yehoshua ben Chinnana.
One of the questions was, “What should a person do to become wise?”
He answered them, “Increase the time that you learn and mimimize the time that you work.”
They argued, “Many people have done that but they were not successful?”
(He answered back) “Pray for mercy from Hashem“.
(The Gemorro concludes), “(Both are needed.) It is not enough one without the other”
From this Gemorro we learn that one who learns with great hasmodo (long hours and diligently) doesn’t necessarily become wise! He could still forget what he learns, not understand things correctly, or not conclude properly.
We also learn that just a burning desire to become a talmid chochom and to davven to Hashem to “make it happen” isn’t enough.
To become a chochom both are needed; to put in the effort to learn long hours and also to davven to Hashem to succeed.
This, concludes Zera Shimshon, is what Rebbi Yochanon means that “HaKodesh Baruch Hue only gives wisdom to the wise”.
Hashem only gives wisdom to one who “gave it his best” and worked very hard to be wise. Hashem answers such a person’s prayers and grants him true long-lasting wisdom.
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