The passuk warns a person who will become wealthy and has houses, cattle, silver, and gold, that he may say “כחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה, my strength and the power of my hand made for me this entire valor.” The following passuk continues, “וזכרת את ה’ אלוקיך כי הוא הנותן לך כח לעשות חיל, and you shall remember Hashem your G-d that He gives you power to make valor.” What is wrong with one saying “it is my strength and power,” and what should he remember?
The Ramban explains: the Torah states that in Mitzrayim we had no strength or power to defeat the Mitzri’im and go out of Mitzrayim, Hashem did it for us. Also we had no strength or power to take care of ourselves throughout the desert where there was no food or drink, and there were poisonous snakes and scorpions. Therefore the Torah teaches that it was not our strength and power, rather it was completely Hashem. So too is true with any of our accomplishments, they are all because of Hashem who gives us the strength and power to do it.
Onkelos translates the words כי הוא הנותן לך כח לעשות חיל as “He gives you the advice to acquire these possessions.” Why does Onkelos translate the word כח here as advice, differently than the previous passuk mentioned above where he translated it as strength?
The Nesina LaGer explains that Onkelos translates advice to teach that not only are a person’s actions done with Hashem’s help, by Him giving the person the strength and power to accomplish, but even the advice and ideas that he formulates, are equally from Hashem.
The D’rashos HaRan explains that the passuk does not state כי הוא עושה חיל that He, Hashem, does the valor, which would mean that a person does not have his own personal strength or power. Rather it states כי הוא הנותן לך כח לעשות חיל, Hashem gives people their personal strengths and talents with which they can accomplish and bring to fruition. The Abarbanel adds that a person may say that because I worked the ground with tremendous effort I produced wheat, wine, and oil, and from sales which I made I gathered silver and gold, it is all due to my efforts. Moshe does not deny this introduction because it is indeed true, each person has special talents with which he actively puts in effort and accomplishes. Rather Moshe says, you are not the cause for any success, only the means. Hashem gave you land, He brings rain and wind for seeds to grow, and Hashem gave you the strength and power with which to accomplish. This is similar to an ax in one’s hand which chops wood. Should the ax be proud of the chopping it does which in truth is solely done by the person who chops with it? We are like the ax in Hashem’s Hand; He enables us to do and accomplish anything and everything we do.
May we recognize that all of our successful ideas and accomplishments are solely because of Hashem.