Dolphin Leather?

I quote Seth Godin a lot and highly recommend his blog for daily reading!

In search of dolphin leather

There’s a story in the bible with very specific instructions for building an ark. Included in the instructions is a call for using tanned dolphin leather. Regardless of your feelings about the historical accuracy of the story, it’s an interesting question: why create an impossible mission like that? Why encourage people who might travel 100 miles over their entire lifetime to undertake a quest to find, capture, kill, skin and eventually tan a dolphin?

My friend Adam had an interesting take on this. He told me that the acquisition of the leather is irrelevant. It was the quest that mattered. Having a community-based quest means that there’s less room for whining, for infighting and for dissolution. Having a mission not only points everyone in the same direction, it also creates motion. And motion in any direction is often better than no motion at all.

All around you, people are telling you two things:
1. whatever you want, forget it, it’s impossible, and
2. sit still, preserve resources, lay low.

And yet, the people who are succeeding, creating change and (not coincidentally) are happier aren’t listening to either of these pieces of advice. Instead, they’re on the search for dolphin leather.

Frank Sinatra had it wrong. Your dream shouldn’t be impossible, but it sure helps if it’s improbable. Don’t choose your dreams based on what is certain to happen, choose them based on what’s likely to cause the change you want to occur around you.

3 thoughts on “Dolphin Leather?”

  1. The word used in scripture is definately not dolphin. Th word “tachash” refers to furry and clean animal. Likely an antelope. But a dolphin is neither clean or furry could not be what he was refering to. Also because a dolphin is unclean it couldn’t be used on the ark. Lev 11:9-11 shows not only that a dolphin is unclean but that the carcas is an abomination. Hence it would not have been on the Arc. But none of these instances were refering to the arc.
    But it’s a good message though. I think we all need to be following more definitive authority.
    God Bless.

  2. Thanks for the comment Patrick. I confess the message for me was much more about taking charge of your life and not listening to the doomsayers (probably much like Noah hmm?) than the translation from the Bible story.

    Thanks for the clarification though!


  3. The “Ark” here is the Tabernacle, not the boat. It is the Mishkan, the mobile temple the Israelites built in the dessert, under Moses’ direction. A Tachash is a land animal described as part docile and part wild. It’s described in the Talmud as having multi-colored skin and a central horn. Thus it’s likely a giraffe or relative of a giraffe, an African animal the Egyptians would likely have imported for it’s decorative skin. Because the Girraffe is a kosher animal (split hooves, chews cud) it would be appropriate to be used in a holy temple.

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