The beginning of this week’s parsha briefly recaps the exodus of B’nei Yisrael from Egypt before going on to tell the events that followed. One previously unmentioned incident is recounted. Before leaving Egypt, Moshe Rabbeinu seeks out the body of Yoseif so that it may be carried to Eretz Yisrael for his eventual burial in Shechem. The midrash (Shemos Rabbah 20:19) says of this deed: "On him (Moshe) the pasuk (Mishlei 10:8) says, "The wise hearted grabs mitzvos," for when all of B’nei Yisrael were busy collecting silver and gold, Moshe was involved in the collection of Yoseif’s bones."
There is a commonly raised difficulty with this midrash. It’s not as if the rest of the nation was not also immersed in the fulfilment of a mitzvah. They were commanded by HaShem, through Moshe, to collect the silver and gold from the Egyptians. Why is Moshe singled out here as a "grabber of mitzvos" when the entire nation was involved in a mitzvah as well?
Rabbi Ephraim Eisenberg, zt"l, in a eulogy for his mother, offered a beautiful approach to this dilemma. Moshe’s action deemed him worthy of the title chacham leiv, wise-hearted, not simply because he was involved in a mitzvah. The wise-hearted is one who has the perception and the insight to sense which mitzvos need to be focussed on under the circumstances. A chacham leiv gains his title not simply with his performance of mitzvos but rather his choice of mitzvos. The entire nation was involved in the "cleaning out" of Egypt and the collection of Yoseif’s body was a job that needed to be done. Moshe realized that this was his job to do. He is therefore praised by Chazal for picking the right mitzvah.
This concept is easily applied to the Jewish outreach setting. There are 613 mitzvos but it takes a chacham leiv to sense where to begin, in which area to initiate growth in order to achieve maximum results. In the building of small communities, in which R’ Eisenberg’s parents were greatly involved, one must devote extra attention to the areas that are the foundations of such communities such as the construction of a mikveh and establishment of Jewish schools. This is the way of the wise-hearted.
Have a good Shabbos.