Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In the construction of the Mishkan about which we are reading, there is a term that is used repeatedly – chacham lev, a person who is “wise of heart.”

Usually, the mind is viewed as the seat of the intellect, of chachma, and emotions are associated with the heart. A term like chacham lev sounds like a paradox, but of course, it isn’t one. The Torah is telling us that in the heart, there is emotional intelligence – the ability to intuit what people are feeling and what their emotional needs are, knowing how to tell them what they need to hear in a way that will be heard, and what not to say.


Emotional intelligence is no less important than intellectual intelligence, and being able to read and analyze people is often more important, and more meaningful, than the ability to read and analyze a book. This character trait is especially important for anyone who wants to be in a leadership position, as the designers of the Mishkan were. Ultimately, chachma is critical, but maybe what we are really looking for is a different word – seichel.


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Rabbi Rackovsky is rabbi of Congregation Shaare Tefilla in Dallas, Texas. From 2007-2012, he served as assistant rabbi at The Jewish center.