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ויקרא אל משה וידבר ד' אליו

And He called to Moshe; and Hashem spoke to Moshe. (1:1)

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Psychologists talk about the importance of living a focused life. One who is focused possesses an inner peace borne from having direction, the knowledge of where he is heading, as well as a plan to get there. To live a focused life takes goals, practice and skill. The Torah does not rely on contemporary psychology. The Torah is the source of all psychology and ethics. Chazal derive from the above pasuk that Moshe Rabbeinu did not enter the Mishkan until Hashem called to invite him to enter. This was a manifestation of the attribute of daas, commonly translated either as knowledge or, in this instance, as manners. Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, explains that daas is an awareness of what he is doing, as opposed to acting mechanically out of habit.

Chazal teach that a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, who is daas-deficient is inferior to an animal’s carcass. If daas means manners, the Torah is teaching us the importance of manners, mentchlichkeit, human decency, acting appropriately, politely, respectfully, etc. Alternatively, according to Rav Wolbe, being a talmid chacham means living a focused life. He knows what he is doing, so that he does not waste time sitting around either doing nothing or, worse, hanging out with a group of like-minded friends, doing absolutely nothing.

Daas takes on new meaning concerning Tefillah. With regard to davening, daas is a reference to kavanah, intention, devotion. How often do we daven without kavanah, just reciting the words without stopping to think about and consider their meaning? Such a tefillah is recited without daas. Essentially, this idea applies to everything that we do and say. If our actions lack focus, if our conversations are thoughtless, we are not focused, so that the time that we spend is totally wasted.

The concept of yishuv hadaas describes actions performed with focus and awareness of what one is doing. One who has yishuv hadaas lives an entirely different life than one who lacks this quality. Moshe waited for Hashem to call him before he entered the Mishkan because he did everything with a cheshbon, calculation and purpose. He understood that if he belonged in the Mishkan, Hashem would invite him in. Otherwise, he had no business entering the holy edifice on his own volition.

We worry about different things. Some worry about money; others about health. How many are concerned with their destinies to the point that they worry about them? That is daas: the awareness of what is most important and, as a result, on what one should place his greatest focus. As Yidden our focus should be on “What does Hashem ask of you?” That is our destiny.

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