Would You Paint Your Floor Bright Yellow?

In the course of my work (in the field of electro-optics), I visit quite a few factories. Sometimes I pick up ideas which can impact all of us....

This past week, I visited CAMT, a factory in the Negev, which does metal machining and other material processing.

For those not acquainted with these industries, the manufacturing processe removes materials, such as steel, aluminium or ceramics, from a block of this material, using heavy grinding and millings machines.

There’s bits of material flying, liquid slurries splashing and a lot of noise and hubbub.

However, at CAMT one is immediately struck by the fact that this factory is clean, and probably very efficient – there’s a confidence that their products and workmanship are at an uncompromisingly high level. That, in their field, they’re leaders.

It took me a while to put my finger on why they made this impression, as their machines seemed reasonably standard for this business and their workers appeared to be a standard melting pot of Israeli society.

“Why are your floors painted bright yellow?” I asked Yair Shneor, their chief engineer.

Yair smiled broadly and proudly, and told me that he’d picked this idea up from a visit to Iscar, the tool factory in the north of Israel. Iscar were founded by Israel’s most famous (and richest) industrialist, Steff Wertheimer, and Iscar IS the leading company in its field.

Indeed, Warren Buffet bought Iscar in 2006 from the Wertheimers for $4.4 BILLION, the most money ever paid for an Israeli manufacturer.

The floors of Iscar are painted bright yellow. And Buffet noticed the floors when he visited Iscar. “You can eat off of the floors,” he remarked at the time. ”It is a real showcase.” He had never seen anything like it. In an interview with the Israeli daily Ha’aretz he said, “It’s an amazing company run by amazing people.”

Yair explained that, with a bright yellow floor, not only does the factory look bright and cheerful, but one can also spot any dirt and trash from one end of the manufacturing floor to the other. The floors have to be kept spotless, otherwise it’s obvious.

On closer inspection, I noticed that CAMT’s machines are also kept spotlessly clean, and each one looked close to new. I noticed that a set of standard hand-tools (screwdrivers, spanners, hammers etc) on the wall, was complete, and that each item had a profile drawn around it, so that any missing item would be obvious.

Beyond what I could see, as a non-expert, I am confident that their production practices and quality assurance are state-of-the-art. And, I would be very surprised if CAMT ship anything but top quality products.

This piece is not an advert for CAMT, or Iscar (not that they need it!).

Having a bright yellow floor presents a dilemma that we can all relate to. On the one hand, it’s great to be seen to be clean.

On the other hand, it shows every spot of dirt and any mess.

Over the millennia, the Jews have been attacked in many ways and we are not paranoid in our concern that people will attack us for no good reason. We are just realistic.

Therefore our complaint that Jews are often unfairly criticized, because we are held to a higher standard of behaviour than others, a double-standard, and that this is merely an excuse for anti-Semitism – is often fully justified. There are, historically and today, many people who hate the Jews, hate Israel, and will use any perceived flaw as a means to bash and hurt us.

In a frum (orthodox) society, there is another layer, which is not just our nationhood, but also our G-d and our Torah.

We DO hold ourselves to a higher standard; and so does G-d, according to the Bible, which both non-frum Jews the Gentiles are well versed in. So when a frum person is perceived as being at fault, the issue of double standards is a reflection of a reality in which we ourselves are complicit.

A frum fraudster, pedophile or corrupt politician, are dirty marks on our bright yellow floor.

This presents us with a dilemma. In every society there will be corrupt members. And of course there are in ours too.

When there’s a dirty mark on our yellow floor, do we use this as an opportunity to get the mop out and clean-up?

Or do we automatically assume that others (even critics from within our camp, such as frum blogs - as it were, the in-house quality assurance people) are simply trying to bash us and make us look bad, motivated by hate and prejudice?

Should we repaint our floor in mid-grey, covering up the dirty marks, and set ourselves a lower standard?

Or continue to paint it bright yellow, proudly aiming, like Iscar and CAMT, to be in the words of Warren Buffet: “a real showcase”...or what G-d called His Am segula.


  1. You and MAGEN, and HaShem of course, made a case for that yellow Jewish floor with http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/still-screaming-is-anyone-listening/

    We Jews must maintain a high standard because our world and the wider world will benefit from it. A lower standard would lead to lowered quality of life for all concerned. Plus, we were ordered by HaShem to keep our lives sparkling clean.


  2. If colours were people then yellow would be the happy gang – orange, its close neighbour in the colour spectrum, would be the go-lucky crew. If you need something positive in your life, these are the colours that you should look to use for the positive energy and a more invigorated and energy-filled approach to life
    Good luck

  3. Thank you. Well said. I have begun thinking of this article's theme as "Why Yellow Floors are Good For the Jews."

    I think yellow is the new black of those who worry about chillul hashem.

  4. Beautiful article - this should be a classic text for everyone interested in cleaning up our camp.

  5. Pure black is not very good at concealing dirt either unless the dirt is pure black or is uniformly distributed. Frightening.


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