Read this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, and you would think you are having a déjà vu experience. Much of this week’s Torah portion is a recap of the last three. We just read G-d’s instructions to Moses about building the Tabernacle; now, we are getting the “instant replay” as Moses repeats the same message to the Jewish People. Since we are told that there is not one superficial word in the Torah, what gives?
Previously, the building of the Tabernacle was referred to in the future tense – “And they shall make…”. Now, it is a fait accompli, the Tabernacle is finished, and so the language is “And they made…” Considering how many projects fail to get off the ground, it is no small task to see a dream become a reality.
Building Your Dream House
Imagine building your dream house. You need to hire an architect to draw up the plans and a contracting firm to actualize them. The number of hours, meetings and conversations that will go into the planning stage alone are incalculable.
In order to get from a “dream home” to actual living quarters, however, you need to be very clear and specific. When I renovated my kitchen, for example, I wanted to have a feature that was in a previous house, which was a “bread drawer”. In case you don’t know what a “bread drawer” is, it’s a drawer that is lined in metal with a lid with perforated holes, and the idea is that this keeps bread fresh for a longer period of time. When my gourmet ooh-la-la kitchen was completed, I pulled out the designated drawer, saw that it was a regular drawer, and asked with a trace of annoyance: “So where is the bread drawer?” My stunned contractor looked around, grabbed a loaf of bread, threw it in the drawer and said, “There – now you have a bread drawer.”
I guess we never really had the “bread drawer conversation”. Putting thoughts into actual words creates clarity, and it is a step that cannot be overlooked. Looking back, the “bread drawer” thing was absurd, and not having it hasn’t made one bit of difference. When you are creating a dwelling place for holiness, on the other hand, the details really do matter. G-d was very specific and clear. For a reason.
Bringing Dreams to Life
Have you ever seen a building project get off the ground? The most important thing to do is to inspire donors is to get an artistic rendering of what the building or site will look like. To create a dream, you need to visualize it. That’s how we bring dreams to life. And words themselves help that process, because of a simple but powerful truth – words create worlds. G-d spoke reality into existence, and so do we. We create our own reality with our words.
People who make verbal commitments feel obligated to follow through on their commitments because they fear their own internal cognitive dissonance or external social rejection. Understanding this dynamic can help bolster your convictions when you need persistence to follow through. But why is the Torah repetitive?
When we are creating something bold and exciting, something we love and yearn to actualize, we have a seemingly endless capacity for detail – and repetition. We are not bored by the repetition of things that excite us. To the contrary – repetition increases our joy because it allows us to savor things more fully, and experience greater nuances. How often will you study the finalized blueprints of your dream house? How many hours will you spend anticipating, visualizing, dreaming – and talking – about the finalized project?
When you consciously visualize your dream as if you were already living it, and you imagine yourself living and acting from that new place of reality, you are much more likely to bring that reality into being.
Use the creative power of your word – in your thoughts, speech, and writing and then act congruently with your words.
Lastly, savor the process and the details, and you are well on your way to making your inner and outer abode the dwelling place of your own dreams. We need to be careful not to bore our friends, but in the privacy of our minds, or when consulting with our “dream team,” we should be full-out engaged, even to the point sometimes of being consumed. Adding a good dose of passion to your purpose will fuel your engagement. In the words, of the poet, Charles Bukowski, “If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.” Go ahead. Start dreaming.