Thursday, 22 May 2014

Flagging Bamidbar

Parashat Bamidbar deals primarily with the logistics of the shevatim, the twelve tribes. How many people are in each family, its responsibilities, and where it is located in the camp. Each tribe's area is marked by an overhead flag or banner. Last year's project involved making chair cushions to mark each seat at the dinner table as one's own.

This year I am intrigued by the actual flags. We know the many purposes of flags today, but when did they first appear in history? My google research doesn't show historians acknowledging the use of flags until 1000 BCE, in Egypt. This would be approximately 500 years after the tribes proudly hung their flags. Did Hashem command us to hang history's first flags?

Midrash describes the colors and emblems on each of the twelve flags. Each flag bore a symbol which represented it's identity. Like a logo. 
Everyone knows what a logo is, and as consumers we are constantly bombarded with them. Why does every business have a logo?

Some of the reasons recommended by business reports include:
  1. To look established.
  2. To attract more clients. 
  3. To brand yourself.
  4. To convey that you are reputable. 
  5. To give clients a sense of stability. 
  6. To be more memorable.
  7. To explain your company name. 
  8. To differentiate you from your competition. 
  9. To stand out in your field. 
  10. To comply with expectations. 
  11. To show your commitment. 

Essentially it is to give pride in your identity and comradery with the people around you. Good reason to have a logo banner? Definately! Modernity's understanding of business psychology really enhances our appreciation of Hashem's commandment to hang banners.

Of course the girls made flags as well. The intent is that our flags will be used as place cards for meals, weeknights and Shabbatot.

The girls sat with index cards and markers, planning their logo and practicing writing their names in Hebrew. 

While they worked on their flags, I made flag poles. I used things I had on hangs, spare flag poles and alligator clips. If there were clothes pins I would have used them instead. 
Hot glue gun attached these together, and clay was used to form the stand. 
The girls were still working diligently on their flags. Future graphic designers. 

Some girls worked more diligently than others.
The clay stands weren't dry in time for dinner, so plates were marked with flags. 

By Shabbat everything should be ready. This is a flag for one of our Shabbat guests. When you come to our house for a meal you can bring your own banner or we will provide one for you.

Shabbat Shalom!

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