My wife Rachel recently began taking a course in creating images using artificial intelligence (AI). New technology like ChatGPT has taken the tech world by storm, showcasing AI with conversational abilities far beyond anything we’ve seen before. Google CEO Sundar Pichai says artificial intelligence will impact the world more than some of the most ubiquitous innovations in history.
Many articles online highlight that artificial intelligence will advance significantly in the next two decades and replace many current workforces. This isn’t limited to factory workers. Chatbots and other technologies can replace many “white collar” positions. This may sound like science fiction, but the reality is that many young people choosing a career now have to think about whether their career is “robot-proof.”
Throughout the next several parshiyot dealing with the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle), its vessels and the bigdei kehuna (the priestly garments), we find the term “Chacham lev” a wise-hearted person or something similar. What qualifies as a “Chacham lev?”
Ramban (Shemot 31:2) comments that the young multi-talented Betzalel chosen for the General Tabernacle Contractor role required much more than artistic abilities and kabbalistic wisdom. Betzalel would have to manage a team of artisans and construction workers who had, likely, never worked side-by-side. Perhaps even more astounding is that a nation of enslaved people, subject to occasional hysteria while struggling to form a national identity, was able to pull off a most remarkable construction project, the building of the Mishkan with all the intricate details within the space of six months! The “Chachmei lev” who helped Betzalel with the construction came from the same background. They had no prior training working with a vast range of delicate materials. Yet, they had the ability to quickly learn and complete these tasks through their Chochma and Siyata Dishmaya (wisdom and divine assistance).
The Chafetz Chaim suggests that the Chochma (wisdom) that Ramban refers to is not only the ability to learn new tasks but the willingness to do so. When selecting who would qualify as a “chacham lev,” they had to weed out those who took the “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” attitude. Someone who felt that he spent his whole life building pyramids or other structures and couldn’t learn something new would not have qualified. To be a “Chacham lev,” one had to be ready and eager to learn something new.
Predicting what things will look like ten or more years from now is hard. One thing we do know, however, is that those who are adaptable, willing and eager to learn new skills are most likely to succeed. This trait is not only helpful in our physical pursuits but essential in our spiritual pursuits as well. If we take the attitude that I am too old to begin learning, whether it’s Hebrew, Chumash, Talmud, etc., we are giving up on an opportunity to become a “Chacham lev.”
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay
P.s. This Dvar Torah was not generated by ChatGPT 😉