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Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

The Brain is Not Enough (Vaetchanan)

 Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch. -Ivern Ball

The Book of Deuteronomy is replete with phrases and entire soliloquies as to the intrinsic belief we must have in God and how that obligates us to follow His commandments. One of these phrases is part of a prayer that we recite three times a day, the Aleinu prayer, which is said at the end of the three daily services, the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers:

“Know therefore this day and recall to your heart that God He is The Lord in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:39

The Chidushei HaRim on this verse teases out an interesting understanding of how we must approach faith, based on the juxtaposition of the term “know” and “heart.” He explains that it’s possible for a person to know with complete clarity the reality and existence of God. However, if that insight doesn’t enter his heart, it is not enough. He elaborates that a person can know something one thousand times over, but if it hasn’t penetrated his heart, he will not act on it.

What may often prevent divine knowledge from entering our hearts is a coating of evil. All it needs is a thin coating of selfishness, indifference, or callousness. That is enough to thwart the brightest minds from the requisite faith in God which inspires benevolent action.

Only after the removal of the coating of insensitivity from the heart can the divine knowledge of the brain enter the soul. Once our hardheartedness is dissolved, we can not only know God, we can connect with God, we can see God, we can follow God and we can be His partners in this world, sharing not only knowledge, but kindheartedness.

May we melt whatever barriers lie between our hearts and the good things our mind knows.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben-Tzion

Dedication

To the rapid and impactful success of Operation Breaking Dawn.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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