5781: Adds up to 21

September 21, 2020
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The Jewish New Year was celebrated this is past weekend.  The year, 5781.  Quite a different celebration it was.  There were limitations placed on family and communal gatherings imposed by the Pandemic.  Health and safety concerns were overlaid onto ancient rituals and customs.

Jewish mysticism places a great significance on numerology.  And so, because 5781 adds up to 21, I was curious as to what that meant other than Blackjack!

The 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “SHIN”.  It’s very similar to a “W”.  It’s traditional form represents fire and stability through its 3 pillars. 

The word “shin” in Hebrew also means TOOTH.  


So what does the combination of “fire” and “tooth” mean?

Teeth chew and break down food and fire changes the nature of food.  Both have the capacity to transform the fuel that nourishes and sustains us.

Yet, as we know it says in the Old Testament; “Man does not live by bread alone” a principle Jesus retweeted in Matthew 4:4.  What does that mean?

When we look at what sustains us, it’s important to look beyond the obvious.  And while the Jewish New Year pushes us to reflect  inwards, it also involves communal ritual that forces us outwards.  Inner nourishment is only meaningful when it is coupled with the outward.

In Jewish theology, a thought is meaningless, unless it is given voice and coupled with action.  Having an idea means nothing if no one else knows about it.  In dentistry, the corollary is learning something new in a course or buying a new technology without being able to put it into practical service.  It’s like shooting blanks except that patients suffer as result of such inaction or disability.

The lesson of SHIN, the 21st letter that means TOOTH and FIRE, is that it is up to each individual to guide the power of these instruments’ transformative potential.  Thepotential stability of such a transformation is based on 3 pillars, much as a chair needs 3 legs or a pyramid, 3 sides.

What’s the supporting triad of our practices?

Most would say leadership, patients and a supporting team.  Some would say money, but I believe that is a byproduct.

But what really nourishes the practice?

The lesson of SHIN is that it’s the flame that burns within the leader and which can be transferred that counts.  It has to be transferred to the other columns, the team and the patients.  It’s this flame that nourishes successful practices.

What flame burns in your practice?  How is it being fanned?  How is it spread?

The brighter, the hotter, the more communicable, the better.  That will determine your ability to transform your patients, your team and your life.

May we all merit to have a year of positive transformation with health, joy and success along with the stability of peace.

Want to discuss a transformative strategy for your practice?  Schedule a complimentary 21- minute consultation.  It’s 21 minutes that can change your life.


Michael, Laurie and the PPS team.

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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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