A GOOD HEART
The most important word I learnt since I started coaching is the word resourcefulness. Tony Robbins, the world’s leading coach says, When people fail to achieve, they often say they are missing resources like time, money, people and so on. Yet, the top achievers in the world know that resources are never the problem; the real problem is a lack of resourcefulness. What is resourcefulness? Resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. It is a skill or talent for making the most out of what you have, so that you reach your greatest accomplishments.
As a coach, I never gave bad advice. Because a good coach never gives advice. The Hebrew word for advice is עצה. Yet the Hebrew word for resourcefulness is תושיה. The job of the coach is to challenge the client with a good, open ended, question so that the client comes up with an answer to a question by being resourceful, tapping into “resourcefulness”. The coach is not supposed to be wiser than the client, telling the client what or what not to do. Rather, a coach who is doing his job is a coach who unveils the resourcefulness of his client.
What is this word Tushiah? לִֽי־עֵ֭צָה וְתוּשִׁיָּ֑ה: (Mishlei 8) To me is advice and resourcefulness. The Torah is called Tushiah. When G-d created the world, He consulted with the Torah, whose name is Tushiah. And the Torah said, Master of the World, if there is no army, if there is no camp to the King, over what is He King? And if there is no Nation praising the King, where is His honor? The Master of the world heard, and it was sweet to Him. The Torah said, HKBH consulted with me to create the world as it says, לִֽי־עֵ֭צָה וְתוּשִׁיָּ֑ה. To me is advice and resourcefulness. (Pirkei D R Eliezer 3) The Torah did not give advice. It asked G-d a power question.
In Mishlei, we find again that Torah is Tushiah. (2;7)יִצְפֹּ֣ן לַ֭יְשָׁרִים תּוּשִׁיָּ֑ה R Eliezer asked R Yehoshua to explain this passuk to him. He said to him, “My son, from the time a person is created in his mother’s womb, the Torah that he is going to learn is hidden for him”. A person has hidden inside him his portion of Torah, his way of understanding its truth. It just needs to be tapped into. Resourcefulness.
What is the tool that makes it possible to tap into this resourcefulness?
R Yochanan Ben Zakai told five of his students to go out and find the right path a person should choose for himself. R Elazar Ben Arach’s answer was, a good heart. And R Elazar unique strength was that he was מעיין המתגבר a bubbling spring. An endless source of Torah knowledge.
What is a good heart? What is a bad heart? We are obviously not referring to the blood pump in the torso. Rather, a good heart is referring to the spiritual component in the body that is responsible for love, friendship, hate, and cruelty. This spiritual entity is connected to and ‘pumps energy’ to the whole body, just like the heart pumps blood to the whole body. A good heart is a heart with no negativity, no hatred or harbored resentfulness or anger, no haughtiness or jealousy. Such a heart is capable of all the resourcefulness in the universe, and is a potential source of endless Torah knowledge.
It is interesting. From the day of Lag BaOmer onward, we cease to mourn R Akiva’s 24,000 students. Why? Because day 33 is the day between the words לב and טוב. 32 is the numerical value of Lev – heart. Tov’s numerical value is 17, and there are 17 days left to the Omer from day 32 on. 33 is the beginning of a good heart. From this point of the Sefirah onward, the character refinement focuses on improving one’s heart. The Or Hachaim splits the 48 ways to acquire Torah into three groups. The last group, the last 16 are days that are related to the last sixteen of the 48 ways to acquire Torah, and these ways are character refinement. We can notice how when R’ Shimon Bar Yochai refers to his students, he calls them Chevraya, friends. This good heart was what empowered R’ Shimon to tap into his part of Torah, which ended up becoming the Zohar.
And this was the answer of R Elazar Ben Arach. The way that a person should choose, the path leading to becoming a Torah scholar, is not acquiring more tools. It is to improve one’s character. Because when you have a good heart, you have infinite internal capacity for Torah knowledge. Ever wonder how R Akiva, who shared the Alef Bais book with his son in school at the age of 40, was able to outdo all the Rabbis of his generation? How did Rachel, his wife, recognize his potential and know that she believed in him, when he was still a shepherd??
Rachel saw in him the good heart. And once someone’s heart is perfect, polished, and pure, the Torah fits right in! It fits like a glove. Of course, with Rabbi Akiva it needed to drip-drop; it needed an uninterrupted 24-year learning streak. But Rabbi Akiva’s heart was so good that he was able to tap into his resources and bring out endless Torah knowledge.
There are so many aspects of a good heart. Appreciation. Happiness. Contentment. Humility. Patience. To name just a few. The Talmud teaches why the Torah is called Tushiah. For it weakens (from the word Mateshet) a person’s negative desires and perspectives.(Sanhedrin 26b) King Solomon tells us, לְֽ֭תַאֲוָה יְבַקֵּ֣שׁ נִפְרָ֑ד בְּכָל־תּ֝וּשִׁיָּ֗ה יִתְגַּלָּֽע One who seeks desires will become a loner, and in all of his Torah, he will become wrong. When you are not content, when you believe you deserve more, when you are not happy, when you want something and you can’t wait for it, your heart is not a good heart. And not only do you lose your friends, but you lose your resourcefulness and learning capacity as well.