Remember that sibling you fought with over an inheritance? What about the manager whose shortcomings you eloquently described on Facebook? Burned any other bridges lately?
You probably already know not to give someone a piece of your mind. Good manners aside, time passes and burnt bridges often come back to bite you. You wouldn’t burn any bridges—knowingly. That’s not the problem.
The problem is that we burn bridges inadvertently. We might do or say something we consider innocuous but unthinkingly hurt someone. We might not realize that we need to consistently and actively nurture relationships.
The Torah describes how to build a successful society. It teaches how men and women ought to relate; how lenders and borrowers must behave; details of how families should be structured.
Leviticus 26:14-44 sounds a bit like a veteran airplane designer warning interns of what will happen if they ignore gravity and mathematics when designing new aircraft. In thirty harrowing verses, Leviticus details the horrendous consequences that will befall any society that ignores certain permanent principles.
But just before that, we read ten delightful verses enumerating all the good times that smart societies following the rules will enjoy.
Which raises this question: Do the words, “…and my soul will not be disgusted by you,” occur within the ten happy verses or in the thirty fearsome verses?
If it appeared in the tragic verses, it would be a bit of consolation amidst horror. But instead it appears among the verses of blessing, striking a discordant note. Wouldn’t it be nice to have only pleasant verses? And if something must be said, why does God use such strong language saying that He won’t be disgusted by Israel?
Let’s deal with the jarring language first. The stronger anything is, the more damage it can cause if something goes wrong. Nuclear power has the capacity to free mankind from drudgery but if, heaven forbid, anything goes wrong the destructive potential is incalculable. A coal fired boiler does not provide much energy but neither does it fail catastrophically. Marriage is a powerful relationship, but when things go wrong, enmity is often the result. Close family and business relationships can be equally volatile.
God’s relationship to His people is more powerful even than marriage. God is reassuring Israel that His commitment to them will never undergo a reversal changing intense love to extreme disgust.
But why is it among the blessings? Well, what greater blessing is there than knowing that God will never burn His bridges with Israel? Even though He knows that Israel will sin and violate the rules, He will never find Israel disgusting.
When times are good, God tells Israel, “Look, I know that in the future, things might go wrong but I want you to know that our relationship is all-important and will endure regardless.” One lesson for human interaction is that we need to articulate our commitment to each other while times are good, emphasizing that we won’t abandon one another when the going gets rough.
We must seize opportunities to stress how much we cherish our relationships, even with managers and employees. We can acknowledge that we know there will be taxing times and disappointments, but that we are committed to the bond between us. That way, during challenging times, relationships can be preserved even when we inadvertently offend.
While this may seem more obvious among parents and children, or between spouses, this idea is important in business as well. While business affiliations do end, relationships need not. Estrangement is less likely if we take care during the good times to make clear how much we value each other.
In this vein, I so appreciated hearing this week from a number of people who read my book, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money. I am constantly gratified and uplifted knowing that I am helping people to thrive, even in this tough economy. We still have copies available at a reduced price, as well as a great deal on the Income Abundance Set. This set includes Thou Shall Prosper as well as three hours of supplementary audios on CD. The material in these teachings makes a powerful gift for anyone committed to success.