והעמידו תלמידים הרבה...
(Avos 1:1) Develop many disciples...
Last week we explained how every single Jew can fulfill Chazal's directive to "develop many disciples" in a passive manner: Through one's behavior, he acts as a teacher to all those who observe him. Yet, there is also an active way of teaching that each of us can employ to educate others.
Chazal make a most intriguing statement about Shlomo Hamelech. The pasuk states (Melachim I, 5:11), "Vayechkam mekol ha'adam - He became wiser than all men" and Chazal explain "Afilu min hashotim" - He even became smarter than the fools. What does this mean? What type of compliment is it to say that he was smarter than imbeciles?
Rav Elchanon Wasserman offers a beautiful explanation of this Chazal. The mishna in Avos (4:1) states, "Who is wise? He who learns from every person." Chazal were revealing to us that even the fools aided Shlomo in becoming more knowledgeable. Accordingly, "Vayechkam mekol ha'adam" should be translated in a very literal way: "He became wiser from every man." Every person has a unique facet to his personality that can be used to enlighten mankind, and thus Shlomo gathered wisdom even from the fools.
If even fools have something to teach, then every person who was granted intellect certainly has something to offer others. Just as Hashem grants a person monetary affluence to enable him to help others by dispensing charity, likewise, Hashem's gifts of good middos, talents, knowledge and areas of expertise were given to a person for a similar reason. In light of this idea, the Anshei Keneses HaGadolah are instructing us, "Develop many disciples" i.e. share your talents with others, thereby providing as many people as you can with added utensils for their avodas Hashem.
Reb Nochum Stillerman Shlit"a, is known as "the man with the plan" (as dubbed by Rav Yissachor Frand Shlit"a at the Twelfth Siyum Hashas). Not only did he map out a twenty three year plan for finishing Shas with five chazaros, he has a systematic plan for just about everything he does. He worked as a fundraiser for many years and he raised nearly half a billion dollars during his career.
One day he was stopped in his tracks by Mrs. Wolfson (wife of renowned Reb Zev z"l). She bluntly reminded him that all his talents and know-how will we buried along with him after 120 unless he begins teaching others the tricks of the trade. Since then, he has been teaching his fundraising methods to community kollels and numerous other organizations. There could be no better use of one's talents than to transmit them to others in a way that enables them to increase the glory of Hashem.
If a person's informing others of his techniques will detract from his ability to support his family, then he certainly has no obligation to pass on such information. However, often one only stands to gain from teaching others the tricks of the trade. Any growth in avodas Hashem that is achieved through his instruction gets accrued to his account.
Rav Wolbe would cite the Chovos Halevovos' analogy to two merchants who bought shoes for ten dollars. The first merchant sold one pair of shoes for a hundred dollars, netting a sizable profit of ninety dollars. The second merchant sold each pair of shoes for a mere twenty dollars, but he sold thousands of pairs thereby netting a profit far greater than his counterpart. Likewise, one who invests only in himself will net a sizable reward, yet it doesn't begin to compare to the reward merited by one who also helps others grow in their avodas Hashem. Could there be a better investment than that?
Ask yourself and answer: What unique talents or knowledge did Hashem grant me? How can I dispense this information to others and thereby aid them in their ruchniyos?