The Finest Workmanship

The Finest Workmanship

 

There is a story told to young design engineers about Henry Ford. Always looking to get efficiencies out of his cars, he would visit car junkyards and examine the remaining components. Upon discovering a bolt that was still in good condition, while the rest of the car had fallen apart, he exclaimed: “This bolt was over-designed!”

 

Ford’s goal was that the entire car should break down around the same time. If a single bolt remained that was still useful it meant that too much steel went into the construction. Multiplying that waste by thousands or millions adds up.

 

Hence the current plethora of products that are purposely designed to fall apart shortly after the warranty expires.

 

The young Israelite nation was not without its design engineers. However they had a different design philosophy.

 

The Children of Israel start building the Tabernacle in the desert. The Jewish people are called on to donate to the construction, and they do so, to such an extent, that the artisans instruct Moses to stop collecting. They have enough materials and then some.

 

Rabbi Ovadia Sforno wonders as to the unusual repetition and phraseology of the fact that the artisans had additional material.

 

Sforno draws an interesting lesson from the phrase and the extra material. In an age of “just-in-time” manufacturing, short supply lines, recycling, cost-cutting and making sure a manufacturer has just enough and no more, Sforno’s following insight may seem surprising.

 

Sforno explains that in order to do a good job, the workers needed extra material. Just the knowledge that additional material is available would insure that they don’t skimp on any aspect of the construction. They know they can invest everything they require to construct whatever it is they’re making in the best way possible. Cutting corners is not the way God wants us to do things.

 

May we always be both creators and patrons of only the finest workmanship.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Bentzi

 

Dedication

 

To the Nachmani Family of Alon Shvut. They are artisans of the highest order. Every act they do is done to the fullest. Skimping is not a word in their vocabulary.

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