Posts tagged " Tabernacle "

Everyone Needs to Give

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance No Comment yet

A “Your Mother’s Guidance” post by Rebecca Masinter

In the Sinai desert, the Tabernacle was the place where human beings could get closest to God.  Building it was a project for everyone—no exceptions.  Everyone in the nation contributed to it.

In our homes, we often have different people with different strengths, weaknesses, and contributions to make.  Just as the Tabernacle needed to come from men and women, leaders and laymen, our homes are also built when everyone has a role and can contribute and be a giver in his or her own way. 

Here’s the kicker: it’s not that the Tabernacle needed to come from everyone as much as that everyone needed to build the Tabernacle.  The Israelites were fresh from generations of slavery and poverty and needed to see themselves as people with great resources and skills.  By having all the Jews contribute to the Tabernacle, God was showing them their abilities, wealth, and talents.  Through being givers of such magnitude, they could recognize their worthiness and value.

There are two ways we can ask for help in our homes.  One is focused on our need,

“I need help.  I’m overwhelmed.  Can you do x, y, or z?” 

That is not bad or wrong and is certainly sometimes the reality.  But think for a moment of the same help being contributed but with a whole different attitude.  What if it’s not about me, it’s about my kids? It’s important for our children to know they have worth, resources, skills, and talents that contribute to our families.  What if I ask my child for help not because I desperately need it, but because my child needs to give? 

When we need help in the moment we tend to ask the one who is most capable or easily available, but in truth, it’s a good idea for us to think proactively about what each child can contribute and how we can make that happen in the best times in the best way.  Here’s a simple example: for many years I have kept a lightweight battery operated vacuum cleaner in the kitchen.  This vacuum can easily be operated by a 3 year old and it is a real help to have my kitchen floor cleaned!  I also store dishes in bottom cupboards to allow younger children to unload dishwashers and set the table. 

My older kids also need me to think through how I can facilitate their contributing.  The older they get the less frequently they’re home!  But even my high school son who’s rarely home knows that he is a huge contributor to our family; we need him and count on him.

Finally, it may not be easy or obvious to figure out how a particularly challenging kid can be a meaningful contributor to the family.  This child needs it even more than the others!  We have to see and believe in his strengths and give him the responsibility to contribute positively to our family, so that he can begin to believe in himself and his abilities too.  The lessons from the Tabernacle are so profound! No one is exempt.  Everyone needs to be a giver, and everyone has what to contribute. By giving, we all, in actuality, receive far, far more.

Does God use art to reveal spiritual lessons?

January 28th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

Hi. I’ve just seen your TV show about music complementing scripture and how it is used to help understand God’s intent in his words.

What about art being used in this way? (a picture says a thousand words)

Are there examples in scripture where God uses art to help people in their understanding?



Dear John,

We think you’re referring to one of our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV shows where we discussed that, when read correctly in synagogue, the Five Books of Moses are chanted in very specific ways handed down from Sinai. In addition, the service of the Levites in the Temple featured music and instruments. Music adds to the understanding of the Bible’s words and verses and touches our souls in ways that can bring us closer to God.

Visual arts, too, are part of God’s revelation. You have surely noticed how much detail is provided about the construction of each piece of the Tabernacle. The materials used, the dimensions and every other detail of construction is specified. This obviously isn’t in order to get featured in an article in House Beautiful magazine. Rather, each detail carries a spiritual message. For one example, see this Thought Tool: Vision – Mission – Vision.

An over all take-away for us is that God has gifted us with a wondrous world. We are constantly balancing the spiritual and the physical to best live in that world. Those of us with a connection to God try to be aware of the overwhelming consumerism and misplaced focus on materialism in developed countries today. However, condemning materialism too strenuously can lead to wrongly rejecting the physical part of life entirely.

One message of Biblical music and visual arts is that the physical part of life can and should become a vehicle for enhancing our lives. While cleanliness may not actually be next to Godliness, making our living spaces attractive and  appreciating the colors, textures and variety of foods and clothing brings us closer to God and His word.

The Lord is my strength and might; He has become my deliverance. This is my God and I will surround Him with beauty; The God of my father, and I will exalt Him.
(Exodus 15:2)

We are supposed to see God and beauty in parallel. In fact, a reliable way to judge both music and art as well as physical objects in general, is to ask whether they distance us from God or bring us closer to Him. When Bach wrote “Soli Deo gloria” at the top of his musical compositions it was to express, “The glory goes to God alone.”  This was  worlds away from the intent of shockingly vulgar lyrics of some of today’s songs.  Similarly, painting and sculpture can elevate our soul or degrade it.  One need only contemplate the hideously ugly monstrosities that are regularly passed off as sculpture by the diseased souls of maudlin and narcissistic artists.

To sum up, each item of the High Priest’s vestments, each component of the Tabernacle and every physical description in Scripture of a person or thing is deliberate and holds an uplifting and God-pointing message for the ages.

Seek out beauty,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Harvey and Montgomery

October 29th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 17 comments

If you’ve never seen the delightful 1950 movie in which Jimmy Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd whose friend is a six-foot invisible rabbit eponymously named Harvey, you might enjoy it.  I too have an invisible friend, though I don’t know how tall he is because he is, well, invisible!  He happens to be a highly intelligent Martian named Montgomery, who is entirely and utterly unfamiliar with everything on earth.  I find it ever so useful to be able to solicit his opinion about, or his reaction to, various earthly events.  Some people dismiss my friend, and insist that all I am really doing is conducting thought experiments but to each his own.

Let me give you an example.  I introduced Montgomery the Martian to two very different families.  The first, residing in Beverly Hills, California, presents their children with the keys to a new BMW car on their sixteenth birthdays and engages a small army of housekeepers and gardeners to free each child from any onerous household chores.  The children address their parents by their first names and receive lavish allowances with very little supervision and few rules.

The second family lives in a small town near Nashville, Tennessee.  Each child carries the responsibility for some aspect of the family’s smooth running.  Each child also has a job outside of school and is expected to say, “Yes, Sir” or “No, Ma’am” to his parents.  The family attends church each Sunday together and dinner times are also family occasions.  The children take turns mowing the lawn and tending to the flower garden.

My questions to Montgomery were this: Which set of parents is more likely to raise children with an enduring respect for parents and siblings? Which set of children are more likely to grow up into young adults who will endlessly complain to expensive therapists about how their parents ruined their lives?

Montgomery weighed it up and concluded that the parents who gave so much to their children, asking nothing in return, were surely the parents who would enjoy enduring gratitude and honor from their children.  As his earthly friend, it was my duty to inform the Martian that he was wrong.  In families where frugality is a fact of life and children are expected to behave like responsible family members and to carry their weight, family relationships are far stronger.


Grounded with the B52 Bomber

January 24th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 6 comments

In January 1991, during “Desert Storm,” a group of American B52 Stratofortress bombers flew to Iraq, bombed their targets, and returned safely home after 35 non-stop hours airborne.  In September 1996, the same type of bomber destroyed Baghdad’s power stations as part of “Desert Strike”.

The enormous eight-engine bomber was again used in Yugoslavia in 1999, and played a major bombing and support role in Afghanistan in 2001. In November 2015, to deny recognition of China’s claim to some islands, B52s were flown through the region ignoring China’s demand to vacate the airspace.  During 2016, B52s based in Qatar flew many devastating bombing missions against Isis.

The United States simply does not possess a more capable long-range strategic bomber than the amazing 160 foot-long, 4 story high, Boeing-built Stratofortress.  Yet the truly amazing part of the B52 story is that the airplane first saw service in the United States Airforce in 1955.  For over sixty years, this airplane has been the backbone of America’s airborne power.

It is hard to imagine that the three Boeing engineers chiefly responsible for designing the B52 could have dreamed that their creation would play so important a role in American history for so long.  Without the B52 in their arsenal, several famous American leaders might well have failed to achieve their military and political objectives.  Though not nameless, those Boeing engineers are not nearly as well known as the political and military leaders who deployed the lethal airplane.

Most of us perform our daily work in relative obscurity.  We tackle our tasks, confront challenges, strive for success and face failures without ever knowing what vital long term consequences might result from what we did last month.  It’s a lot like raising children.  It doesn’t bring the fame that might come to the women heading General Motors or Yahoo but without the children being raised as productive and law-abiding citizens today, there wouldn’t be large corporations tomorrow.


What an overreaction!

June 22nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“What an overreaction!” This exclamation came from a man who consulted me about some business problems. He was alluding to a former customer of his who angrily left him for a competitor and also bad-mouthed him to others. “We were late on a delivery and off he went on a rant,” he continued. “What an overreaction!”

My gentle questioning revealed that my client had not personally called the aggrieved customer to apologize nor had he offered any kind of compensation. But what was far more interesting was that I discovered that this occurrence was not the first time my client had delivered appalling service to this customer. It was not even the second time. It was the third. (more…)

Success You Can Smell

March 13th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I really hope that my children think of their childhood with the same sweet nostalgia that I do. Whenever the Lapin family embarked upon a trip, it was usually with at least fifteen suitcases, all of which needed to be loaded into our van. Though I could have done it myself quite quickly, we patiently waited while our young son laboriously loaded every piece of luggage, many of which were larger than he was.

My wife always shared the preparations for the Sabbath with our daughters, assigning some children to set the table while others cleaned the house until it shone. Planning menus and cooking were group efforts as well. Especially when the kids were very young, she could have prepared the house and meals for our family and our guests far more quickly herself.

By contrast, researchers recognize that generally, American children ignore or resist appeals to help. According to a recent UCLA study, compared to other countries and cultures, and even more importantly, compared to how we Americans used to raise children, parents today are focused on what they can do for their children and don’t think about what their children can do for them.

Were my wife and I taking unseemly advantage of free labor or doing our children a favor? Let’s look at a precedent from God.

From the moment they left Egypt the Israelites grumbled about almost everything.

…Why did you bring us out of Egypt

(Exodus 14:11-12)

The people complained against Moses saying what shall we drink?

(Exodus 15:24)

…the Children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron…

(Exodus 16:2)

The people argued with Moses…give us water

(Exodus 17:2)

They gathered against Aaron…make us a god..we don’t know where Moses is

(Exodus 32:1)

Eventually God told every person to bring of his possessions and get to work building the Tabernacle. This construction project and the service therein occupied the Israelites for many years and the complaining just about ceased.

After nightfall on Saturdays my family gathers for Havdalah. With this service we bid Shabbat farewell for another week and prepare ourselves for six days of productive endeavor. During the brief ceremony, we celebrate our sense of smell enjoying the fragrance of some spices, often cloves and cinnamon.

When a festival terminates, we also conduct a Havdalah ceremony but without any blessing on smelling the spices. Why the difference?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that, amazingly, in our world, the actions of humans leave a longer-lasting impression than God’s actions. For instance, Mt. Sinai (where God acted) is largely unknown, whereas Mt. Moriah (where Abraham, Isaac, David, and Solomon acted) is still visited by pilgrims after 3,000 years. Ancient Jewish wisdom further explains that smell is the sense that most strongly links to our memories. I am sure you can think of smells that immediately transport you to images of your childhood.

Sabbath was scheduled every seven days by God but we Jews were commanded to set the dates of the festivals by our own calculation. Linking the Sabbath to a smell prolongs the sensation of that day. Since festivals have a human component, no fragrances are necessary for them to cling to us even after they are over.

We are more lastingly impacted by the things we do for God like building a Tabernacle than by the many things He does for us. The children of Israel appreciated God more, not less, by giving of themselves for His structure. Likewise, our children are more lastingly impacted when they participate in family life, rather than just being recipients of parents’ beneficence.

You can use this information to change important things in your own life. The problem is, you feel shackled to the status quo. It’s like an invisible force imprisons you, yet you yearn to escape. Passively waiting for God – or other people – to solve our problems isn’t the best way to activate change. There is a God-given solution in my audio CD Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt. We’re discounting it online this week so that it is easily accessible to help you change your life. I’d like you to take advantage of this offer now!

One in a Million

February 8th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

A neighbor of mine is passionate about sports and the father of four young boys. Even though I’m only a casual acquaintance, I can see how different each of his sons is. Though the third boy clearly has the soul of an artist and just wants to be left alone to draw and paint, he is herded into the backyard for touch football games along with his brothers. I watch this young boy’s spirit being crushed when his ineptitude with a football costs him his father’s esteem. All too easily we mistakenly assume that just because people share one feature such as, “they’re all my sons,” they are therefore identical.

Similarly in business, we segment customers by clever marketing criteria. Then, because they live in the same zip code or read the same magazines, we mistakenly assume they all share identical desires and priorities. Likewise, we share many characteristics, ideas, and actions with our friends, relatives, and colleagues but we can trip up when we forget that notwithstanding the similarities, each of us is unique.

Scripture teaches this vital lesson in human interaction. When the Tabernacle is completed, God directs Moses to allow the heads of each tribe to bring a gift, one leader after another on successive day. (Numbers 7:11)

In six long verses, the Torah then relates that on the first day Nachshon, of the tribe of Judah, brought a silver bowl and a silver basin containing flour and oil, accompanied by a gold ladle filled with incense. Rounding up the gift were twenty-one different animals. (Numbers 7:12-17)

The next six verses inform us that on the second day Netaneil, of the tribe of Issachar, brought his offering. Would you believe that he brought exactly the same items, even with identical dimensions? (Numbers 7: 18-23) The following six verses tell of the third day, the only difference being the name of the leader and tribe. (Numbers 7: 24-29)

So it goes for seventy-two interminable, repetitive verses. Twelve heads of twelve tribes on twelve successive days brought exactly the same gift. (Numbers 7:12-83).

Don’t you agree that it would have been more concise for the Torah to have said, “And these are the names of the heads of the tribes each of whom brought the following gift.” The next six verses could then detail the gift. Doing so would have saved us reading over sixty repetitive verses.

Well, had the Torah been written by humans and edited by humans, that is probably what they would have done. But instead it is God’s message to mankind and each passage is written in the best way to convey vital information about how the world REALLY works. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches us how to decode it.

The message here is that while it is true that each tribal leader brought the same items, each gift was still distinct. The spiritual symbolism of the different items was understood differently by each man. God, who created and cherishes every human being separate from all others does not lump them all together. What a lesson for us! Just because people are superficially similar or seem to do similar things, it is wrong to assume they are identical.

This is a powerful message for us as parents, as friends and as business professionals. Whether in personal interaction, by phone or by email, it is good to let each person in our lives know that he or she is not being treated in a standardized, bureaucratic way.

Of course, because your income depends on how usefully you serve as many people as possible, you frequently can’t relate to customers individually. However, everyone wins when you seize opportunities as they present themselves to acknowledge a customer as a cherished, unique person. I know that many of you benefit from using the principles from one of our best-selling audio CDs, Boost Your Income: 3 Spiritual Strategies for Success, to increase your own communication and collaboration with others. Those principles make a difference in my life and remind me that while Thought Tools currently goes out to over 30,000 subscribers, each and every one of you relates to it in your own inimitable fashion.

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Cause AND Effect

September 28th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet


Earthquakes?  No, they do not occur because the gods are
angry.  They are caused by stressed
tectonic plates suddenly shifting.  One
great gift of science is cause and effect, which means that things don’t just
happen.  For every effect, there is a
cause. There is no need to ascribe natural events to vengeful deities.


science itself was one of the great gifts of Biblical faith.  It can hardly be a coincidence that over 90%
of the scientific, medical, and technical discoveries uncovered in the one thousand
years between 900 and 1900 came about in the Judeo Christian cultures of Europe
and North America though they contained only a small proportion of the world’s


these cultures, the well-known sentence, “In the beginning, God created heaven
and earth,” helped propel western scientific discovery. Firstly, it linked God
and nature, encouraging men and women to seek deeper insight into the Creator’s
design by studying heaven and earth.  Secondly,
it suggested that nothing is random.  God
banished chaos and replaced it with fundamental cause.  Not surprisingly, advances in the natural
sciences exploded among those people possessing this enormous cultural


Biblical culture helps us understand everyday life too.  Knowing that causes are connected to effects points
us towards wise decisions and helps us respond prudently to life’s


about political and labor problems in Southern Africa tells us that the price
of chromium will rise, resulting in higher prices for stainless steel and
everything made of it.  Recognizing that
how a child is treated will affect what type of adult he becomes, encourages us
to take care of our marriages and families. 
Everything we do brings consequences in its wake as does anything we


do best by becoming adept at seeking out context and connection for almost


simple but vital message emerges from ancient Jewish wisdom’s observation that
more than half the verses in the Five Books of Moses begin with the Hebrew letter
vav’. When used as a prefix in the
Lord’s language, this sixth letter of the alphabet translates as the word, ‘and’. 


The vav's shape graphically calls to mind a hook or a nail.  What is more, with characteristic elegance reflective
of timeless truth, the name of this letter, vav,
means a hook or a connector, the very function of the word ‘and’. 


the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom, the Tabernacle that Moses built and which
the Israelites carried with them through the desert for forty years was not
only a House of God but also a spiritual metaphor for understanding the
world.  It is this aspect of the Tabernacle
that imbues even its picayune details with significance.


describes how much silver was used in the Tabernacle construction:


And the silver
collected via the congregational census

 was 100 kikars plus 1,775 shekels….

(Exodus 38:25)


kikar consists of 3,000 shekels. Why didn’t the Torah just list
the total amount of silver as 301,775 shekels?


turns out that the 1,775 shekels of silver had a very special role.
Three verses later we learn:


And from the 1,775 shekels
of silver he made

(Exodus 38:28)



Vavim is the plural of vav, meaning he made hooks — fasteners
or connectors.


we are told that the entire physical Tabernacle is held together with vavim, connectors. Rather than being an
insignificant part of the structure, they are enumerated in a way that
highlights them. The spiritual metaphor tells us that the whole world is held
together by vavim; ‘ands’.


we see events and ideas in isolation, we make a great mistake. Most verses in
the Torah begin with ‘and’ in order to train us to look forwards and backwards
– what did we do in the past that led to where we are now and how will our
future be affected by what we are doing in the present.


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