Posts tagged " Tabernacle "

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.

But 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 population.

In 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

But 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 circumstances.  Reading 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 neglect.

We do best by becoming adept at seeking out context and connection for almost everything. This 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’. 

Through 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.

Scripture 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)

 A kikar consists of 3,000 shekels. Why didn’t the Torah just list the total amount of silver as 301,775 shekels? It 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 vavim.
(Exodus 38:28)

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

Thus 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’.

If 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 backward—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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