As the result of his attempt to prevent the nation from their treasonous act of creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, Chur, son of Miriam and grandfather of Betzalel, the worshippers of the Golden Calf murdered him. For his unequivocal act of mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, Chur received a posthumous reward to see his grandson be chosen as the architect of the Mishkan – which incidentally atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf. This explains why Hashem selected Chur, but why was Moshe Rabbeinu not selected to oversee the building of the Mishkan? Moshe had toiled for forty days and nights to understand every aspect and nuance of the Torah. Was anyone more deserving to erect the Mishkan than Moshe? He was Klal Yisrael’s most erudite member, who had no peer. Furthermore, he wanted to do it! Hashem told Moshe, “Sorry. The position of honor is being transferred to Betzalel.” Clearly, Moshe wanted to build the Mishkan because he felt most qualified, and, therefore, the one who would best enhance the glory of Hashem. It certainly was not for his personal prestige.
Horav Shmuel Berenbaum, zl, explains that Moshe understood Hashem’s selection of Betzalel to be temporary. Betzalel would commence the project out of deference to Chur’s mesiras nefesh, but Moshe would execute the conclusion, the finishing touches. After all, he was Klal Yisrael’s quintessential leader, the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael. Who was better suited to execute this mission than he? Hashem explained, “True, you are the leader, the scholar without peer who devoted himself to every aspect of the Mishkan. Clearly, you are most appropriate for this task. From a pragmatic perspective, you should be constructing the Mishkan. I, however, created Betzalel, specifically for this task! Consequently, he is more worthy than anyone.”
We derive from here that Hashem selects some people – regardless of their background, ability, acumen – for a project, and, as a result, He grants them Heavenly grace to succeed in a manner that is almost mind-boggling. Everyone knows or has heard of, an individual who has been blessed with an inordinate amount of siyata d’Shmaya, which enabled him to succeed beyond realistic expectations.
For example, the kiruv, Jewish outreach, movement, is comprised of many individuals who have devoted countless years to its success, but it all began through heroic efforts of a few “chosen” individuals. I will not name them, lest I forget someone. This applies to every aspect of Jewish life. Hashem places specific people in situations and grants them the opportunity to “carry the ball.” Some run with it, while others convince themselves that the task is too difficult, or they do not have the time, etc.
Once a student of Kaminetz, who was very close with its Rosh Yeshivah, Horav Baruch Ber Leibowitz, zl, the Bircas Shmuel, presented Horav Moshe Feinstein, zl, with an intricate shailah, halachic query, which involved life and death issues. Rav Moshe immediately replied, rendering his p’sak, decision, to the query. The Rav, however, did not agree. “Is this the way one responds to a shailah?” he screamed. “This is a very profound and intricate shailah that requires much thought and research. How can you render an off-the-cuff decision? My Rebbe, the revered Rav Baruch Ber, would never respond to a shailah of such importance in such a manner. He would spend hours researching every aspect of the shailah and every source of halachah before he would render his decision!”
Rav Moshe listened patiently to the man’s harangue, and respectfully, calmly, he replied, “Rav Baruch Ber was a great Rosh Yeshiva, but he was not a posek, halachic arbiter. This was not his purpose in life. It is mine.” End of story. Rav Moshe was the posek hador, the greatest halachic arbiter of his time. He was blessed with extra-ordinary siyata d’Shmaya with regard to p’sak. He knew who he was and what his function in life was. Rav Baruch Ber might have been a greater Rosh Yeshivah, a more analytical lamden, scholar; his lectures might have been more profound. He was, however, not a posek. Rav Moshe was. Thus, he had the uncanny power to render the halachah like no one else. This was his siyata d’Shmaya.
The Rosh Yeshivah cites another incident which took place concerning one of the greatest poskim of all times, the Chasam Sofer. An agunah (woman who was either abandoned by her husband, or her husband went missing and she had no irrefutable proof that he was dead) came before Horav Akiva Eiger, zl, Rav of Posen and one of the greatest Talmudic scholars, to render her permissible to remarry. Apparently, her husband had been gone for some time, and she had some proof that he was never going to return alive. The Gaon listened and rendered his decision on the condition that she present the query to his son-in-law, the Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer concurred with his father-in-law’s decision. He asked, however, that nothing be done for one week. He conjectured that before she were to move on and remarry, it was best that they allow for a week to pass. That week, her husband appeared!
Rav Akiva Eiger later explained that he specifically sent the query to his son-in-law, because he was the posek hador. As such, the Chasam Sofer enjoyed a unique siyata d’Shmaya. Hashem designated him for this position, which he filled to the expected capacity. Rav Akiva Eiger might have been the greater scholar of the two, but the Chasam Sofer was the Heavenly-designated posek hador. With regard to halachic decisions, this is what matters.