A manufacturing question: What do you create first – the package
or the product? In today’s commercial world it often appears that wrappers
are so vital that they are designed before thinking what they contain inside.
As marketing cynics put it: Perception is more important than reality. On
the other hand, despite the cliche, we do judge books by their covers.
If an environment is not appealing and the package is weak, we won’t trust
the product within.
In our personal lives the same question can be asked: What
takes priority – the means or the ends? Say, you’re planning an event. Do
you begin with creating a content program or do you first design the look
and feel? Very often, function seems to follow form rather than the other
More bluntly put: What drives your life – your body
or your soul; your physical or your spiritual needs? Do
you see yourself as a material creature, with some spiritual
activities, or a spiritual one, recognizing that matter
is fuel for spirit?
Here’s where marketing, corporate structure, business administration
and personal life all converge.
Conventional wisdom of business administration dictates
that a successful entity requires two equally vital forces:
A visionary and a builder. The visionary ensures that the
entity always remain aligned with its long term objectives.
The builder implements the vision, directing the mechanics
of the operation towards its intended goals.
Usually, the vision person, standing at a 20,000 story
level or higher, has a birds-eye view which is incapable
and unable to see and run things on the ground level, which
requires immersion into the nitty gritty details. And vice
versa: The implementer needs to see things as they are below,
and cannot remain on a pedestal.
Vision alone can remain abstract and unfulfilled without someone
who knows how to implement and build accordingly. Building without vision
You may be surprised to hear that the first model for balancing
these two forces goes back 3320 years ago. The model for all structures –
for all entities – both physical and spiritual, microcosm and macrocosm, is
the holy Temple.
“Build me a sanctuary and I will rest among you.” The purpose
of existence is to build a Divine home from and in our material universe.
Building this home is thus a model for every form of building that we well
ever devise – from our grandiose structures in our sprawling cities to our
businesses and corporations, from our personal lives, homes and families to
our social structures.
As such, the construction of the Sanctuary offers us many lessons in life.
Which explains why the Torah – in these weekly chapters
– elaborates about every detail of the Temple’s
construct, and not once, but three times.
When we look closely at the Torah narrative we find a discrepancy
in the order of the Temple’s assembly: When G-d first commands Moses (in the
fist two chapters of Terumah and Tetzaveh) the order is first to build the
vessels (the ark, the table, the menorah), and then the structure itself (the
walls of tapestry and the beams). But later, in these week’s chapter, when
Moses instructs the people to build the order is reversed: First the Mishkan
– the structure – and only afterwards the vessels.
The Talmud relates a mysterious but fascinating dialogue between
Moses and Bezalel, the Temple’s builder, about this order (Berochot 55a. Cited
in Rashi at the opening of Pekudei):
When Moses told Bezalel to first construct the vessels and then the structure,
Bezalel responded, “Moses, our Rabbi, the way of the world is that first one
builds a home and afterwards he puts in the furnishings. But, you tell me
to build the ark and vessels and then the Tabernacle. Where shall I put the
vessels I make until the Tabernacle is finished? Perhaps G-d really said it
to you in a different order, Tabernacle, ark, vessels?” Moses responded: “perhaps
you were under G-d's shadow (the meaning of the name “be-zal-el”) and knew
what G-d intended.” Moses deferred to Bezalel.
Why then did Moses reverse the order and maintain that first
the vessels should be constructed than the structure? Indeed, if Bezalel was
right that the order should be first to build the structure and then the vessels,
why did G-d in the first place command Moses precisely in the opposite order?
Why confuse matters?
The answer is that both Moses and Bezalel were right. One spoke
from the perspective of the visionary, the other from the viewpoint of the
A visionary – the driving force that should stand behind
every initiative – sees the end in mind; he always maintains
focus on the mission and purpose of the entire operation.
The ultimate purpose of the Temple lies in the vessels –
the Divine service performed with the vessels. The structure
is necessary to protect and surround the vessels within.
Moses, man of G-d, was the visionary who saw right at the
outset the end purpose – which is to create containers for
The builder who implements the vision, on the other hand, must
define the actual method and order of assembly. Bezalel, the builder and implementer,
recognized the practical process, “the way of the world: first one
builds a home, and afterwards one puts in the furnishings.”
Moses’ and Bezalel’s symbiotic relationship in constructing
the Divine Temple carries vital lessons in our lives:
Ask yourself the question: Who controls your life: The details
and daily mechanics or a higher vision and purpose? Who is the captain of
your ship: is your body following your soul, or is your soul following your
body? Does the hammer tell your hand what to do or the other way around?
It may seem strange, but due to life’s circumstances and the
struggle for survival most of our lives are consumed with the means – working,
commuting, shopping, preparing, with much less time and energy available for
the end – the reason we invest all that effort: love, family, virtue, personal
growth, making a mark on the universe. This of course, creates the inevitable,
undesired and contradictory result: We can forget the destination as we get
overwhelmed with the journey. Instead of your mission defining your activities
and circumstances, the order is reversed.
On the other hand, sometimes we can get carried away with vision
and illusions of grandeur, which – even if they aren’t illusions – often don’t
come to realization due to their grandiosity. You may be afraid, or not know
where, to begin, concerned that not every detail was covered or that there
may be another way to go.
First and foremost we need the voice of Moses within: the
vision. Then we need to balance it with the voice of Bezalel:
In our lives, each of us should have has both these personalities,
forces and characters: First the visionary – that distinguishes between the
means and the ends, and makes sure to emphasize and keep focused on the purpose
of all the work we do in life. Never forget the purpose. Then there is the
builder who understands the right order how to actualize the process.
Obviously, some of us excel at one more than the other. Nevertheless,
we all carry both voices. And even more importantly, we are expected to be
wise enough to consult and bring on board an objective expert that can help
complement our own weaknesses.
Which is more important? Both: vision and execution. The idealism
of a visionary can remain abstract and unrealized. The greatest vision will
fail if it does not have a designer and builder that will execute and realize
the vision. A builder on his own, without vision, can get distracted and carried
away with the means, and forget the end. We need both: the end in mind and
the order of priority.
This is the secret to success: Moses and Bezalel – a partnership
that left us with a holy Temple, which served as a model for the Temples to
be built later in Jerusalem, and the permanent Temple of the future.
And above all – provided us with a permanent model to create
a home for our souls and for the Divine (“I will rest among you”).
How many partnerships can claim such success?