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The Glory of the Single-Minded Person

The Glory of the Single-Minded Person

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Most of us have at least one single-minded person in our lives. It may be someone at the office, a family member, a neighbor or a friend. The subject of their single-mindedness can be anything -- a cause, a political opinion, an obsessive hobby, a worshipped celebrity. It may be virtuous or ominous, fascinating or boring, intelligent or silly. Single-minded people come in many shapes and forms, but they all share a seeming inability to talk about anything else, even -- apparently -- think about anything else.

Single-minded people are not much fun. But there is something about them that elicits our amazement, even admiration. They have devoted themselves to something unequivocally. Imagine what we could achieve if we could make such a commitment to the things we truly care about!

Not that we'd want to become a single-minded person. But we would like to have some of that single-mindedness mixed into the concoction of our character. Perhaps one part in five, or one part in fifteen. Just enough to impart that extra oomph! to our lives.


Our sages tell us that, "Gold was created only so that it should be used for the Mishkan." The Mishkan was the portable "Tabernacle" built by the Children of Israel in the desert as a "home for G-d in the physical realm." According to the Chassidic masters, making a home for G-d in the physical realm is the purpose of everything that we do; the Mishkan was simply the prototype, the model which empowered us -- and taught us how -- to replicate it in our personal universe.

Fifteen materials were used in the construction of the Mishkan -- gold, silver, copper, three types of dyed wool, linen, goat hair, ram and tachash skins, acacia wood, olive oil, aromatic herbs and precious stones. Our sages explain that these represent a cross-section of the various "kingdoms" in creation (the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the animal kingdom) and also correspond to the various components of the human being and the heavenly bodies -- all of which are to be included in the home for G-d we make in the physical world.

"Gold was created only so that it should be used for the Mishkan." And yet, G-d also allows the use of gold in wedding rings, teeth fillings, and gilded moldings in ornate hotel lobbies. Apparently, G-d does not envision our world as a single-minded place.

G-d already has single-minded creations -- they're called angels: there are angels of mercy and angels of judgment and angels of love and angels of awe, but no angel possesses more than one characteristic or serves more than one function. (That's why Abraham was visited by three angels -- one to inform Sarah that she will have a son, a second to heal Abraham and rescue Lot, and a third to destroy the evil city of Sodom -- no one angel can do two kinds of jobs).

Humans are not built that way. G-d wanted us to be multi-faceted beings -- beings who use the same material to build Him a temple, seal their marriages, fix their teeth and add some ritz to their travel accommodations -- and have it all somehow add up to this place for Him they're making in their lives.

Yet a bit of single-mindedness is always a good thing. That's why one of the materials used in the Mishkan was the hide of a tachash. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the tachash was a gloriously colored animal that was created specifically to be used in the making of the Mishkan -- it did not exist before that moment, and has not existed since. If the purpose of creation is to make "home for G-d in the physical realm", then there should be at least one element in creation that is used exclusively for that end, in the most literal sense.

The interesting thing, however, is that the tachash is described as bedecked with many brilliant colors. Apparently, there's more to single-mindedness than meets the eye.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
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Discussion (5)
February 20, 2010
Being 'single minded'
I am brought to my knees by this. Would you describe it as an essay, or idea, thought, or what? As an autistic person, I understand about 'single minded'. We call it monotropism. We can only focus on one thing at a time. We can only do one thing at a time.

In response to Michael S. Jeffers, yes, you have angels among you. In human culture, you call us autistic.
Laurie Morgen
nottschabad.org
February 17, 2010
The lesson in this teaching remind me of the truism:
'Did you not convince a man by silencing him?"
Carol Reid
Port Moody, BC
February 27, 2009
Single Minded Person? Are They Angels Incognito?
If what is said about angels being single-minded, with mostly only the purpose and the task given to them to do from on high? Well ... Then I think some people that I know and know how they think about things and do things, my gosh! They even do things mostly for good purposes like I know them to do from being with them sometimes. Golly! We have incognito angels among us, and gosh, they're really real. I can see this now. It must be absolutely true?
Michael S. Jeffers (HaMamser)
Olivette, MO USA
January 10, 2009
Interesting....
Single-Minded person are quite interesting topic to deal with.To say frankly,I am not aware about this topic before.I am eager to know about this more.
Thanks for sharing the glory of single-minded people.
Julissa
Los angeles, U.S
July 15, 2004
singlemindedness is oriental
Sadly for a child, there wan't too much space left for singleminded- ness. Communism propaganda has suffocated my ears, blinded my eyes as they built their vain hope with pure vanity; Christianity was all up to my nose, seeig these Christians act one thing and say another.

my instinct and a headstrong determination (was it one thing or two? if they are the same, call it "singlemindedness") pulled me out of the whirlpool of a double-twisted illusion. No communism, no Christianity explained my relationship with the Above. Period.

Christianity is for general, i am particular, odd number. In you i found depth, profoundity i sought, though kept away from. But inner connection exists, coherence echos, ever since it has been, from the same source, at the beginning.

After the seperation from birth, i am no longer defined by singleminded-ness.
rose of jericho
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