Category Archives: Finances

Why Self-Promotion Should Make You Feel Good

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayakhel – Exodus 35:1-38:20

Humility is a virtue, no doubt about it. But like many good things, in excess it becomes a vice. Veterans are particularly prone to think all self-promotion is bad. Parshas Vayakhel has a different view:

“Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood….” (Shemos/Exodus 37:12)

Why Self-Promotion Should Make You Feel Good

This Sabbath’s parsha reviews the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). It also relates perhaps the only time in Jewish history that a building campaign was so oversubscribed people actually had to be told to stop giving!

The Nature of Reward

Bezalel gets all the credit for building the ark. Scripture records his name. And he received his full reward in the World to Come. Bezalel gets all the glory even though others helped construct the ark.

G-d does not diminish Bezalel’s heavenly reward despite his receiving eternal publicity in the Bible. True, he devoted all of his talent and energy to building the ark and the Tabernacle. But you would think such a breach of humility as accepting sole credit would justify the Almighty’s reducing Bezalel’s portion in the World to Come.

The great sage Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, better known as the Rashba, concludes that G-d wants the names of people who performed good deeds publicized and remembered. Others will be encouraged to carry out more good works.

When Self-Promotion is Virtuous

Other commentators, like R’ Yehudah HaChassid, castigate people who perform good deeds in order to get recognition. He focuses special contempt on someone who refuses to let others participate in a community project so he will get sole credit.

So which is it? Should we shun self-promotion or publicize our good deeds?

Motive makes all the difference. If you announce your actions to receive honor, the Almighty won’t be impressed. No one else should be either. As well, if your good deed helps an individual, out of respect for the recipient’s dignity keep the matter private.

If you seek publicity to better serve your family or community, the example of Bezalel shows the merit of such behavior. When, like the building of the Tabernacle, a project benefits the whole community you’re setting an example that G-d wants others to follow.

At first, you may find it uncomfortable to tell people about your good deeds. Consider which is more important: your own ease or spreading the idea that everyone should participate in bettering our communities. When others hear about what you’ve done and join in you’ll have reason to celebrate.

How do you promote yourself so as to benefit others? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Should You Act or Rely on Faith?

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Sisa – Exodus 30:11-34:35

G-d wants you to have faith in Him. Indeed since He is a loving Father you should be able to rely on His care. But after the debacle in the Garden of Eden, the Almighty decreed that humans would, “with the sweat of your face…eat bread.” So G-d requires that you take action to make a living. It’s confusing. When should you just sit back and trust in the Almighty’s generosity? And when must you take steps toward your goal? The secret is uncovered in Parshas Ki Sisa:

“And G-d spoke to Moses saying, see I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah…” (Shemos/Exodus 31:1-2)

Should You Act or Rely on Faith-

This week’s parsha gives the mitzvah of the half-shekel, deals with the last few items for the Altar, discusses the Sabbath, and relates the story of the Golden Calf.

What’s In a Name?

G-d appointed Bezalel to build the Mishkan, the Earthly abode in which He would rest His presence. He could have said, “I want Bezalel to build the Mishkan.” Instead the Almighty points out He called Bezalel “by name.” Why is the name important?

If you recall the story of creation, G-d paraded the animals by Adam, who gave each a name. He didn’t label them randomly. Each name designated the essence of the animal’s character.

Originally Adam was to fulfill human destiny. But when he ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil G-d changed His plan. No longer would the whole of humanity be bound in one soul. Ever since, when a child is born, the Almighty designates a piece of Adam’s soul for him or her. Certain skills and characteristics reside in that bit of Adam’s spiritual DNA. At the same time G-d gives the child a name. The two, soul and name, are inextricably bound.

When G-d appointed Bezalel “by name” to oversee construction of the Mishkan, He ensured the particular abilities and traits His appointee got from Adam would be put to use.

Act or Have Faith?

Bezalel is not unique. G-d gives each human being, including you, specific expertise and qualities as a legacy from Adam. He chooses them for you so you can accomplish the mission He designates for you.

However, the Almighty’s plan for the world cannot be understood by the human mind. So it’s impossible to know for sure what your mission is. You must have faith that the path you choose is the one G-d chose for you.

You must do your best to understand your strengths. Introspection and guidance from those who know you best will help. Having done your best to accurately determine the gifts the Almighty gave you, align your mission with them.

Then take action.

If you made an open, wholehearted self-investigation, your action will bear fruit. The more certainty you bring to your actions, the more likely your sincere faith and actions will be rewarded.

What does it mean if you don’t make progress after trying and trying and trying? Perhaps your self-assessment is off the mark. Try again. Life is an iterative process.

You know for sure that G-d has given you a mission and the ability to see it through. Have faith in him and yourself that you will find your mission. Take action to make it happen.

Do you have clarity about your life’s mission? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Make Your Own Luck

4 minutes to read

You can’t deny that successful people are luckier than everyone else. Things just seem to fall in place for them. As Charlemagne said in Pippin, “it’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.” Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew their secret?

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck Made Me $6000 in 3 Days

Back when I was in the real estate business I had the chance to make $6000 for about 24 hours of work appraising a golf course. I told the client I knew nothing about the assignment but he wanted me to do it anyway. There was one hitch: I had three days to get it done.

After visiting the course (I could have played it for free but didn’t have the time) I started my research. My first call was to American Golf, at the time the largest owner of golf courses in the country. I told the receptionist I had been assigned a golf course appraisal and was hoping someone at her firm could help me. She transferred me to investor services. I repeated why I called to the investor relation’s person. Our conversation:

IR person: Do you have a pencil?

Me: Yes.

IR person: Do you have some paper?

Me (mystified by his questions but going along): Yes.

IR person: Okay, here’s what you need to do.

He spent the next 45 minutes explaining how to underwrite a golf course. Then he told me I needed to get copies of a golf course trade magazine.

I spent the next hour calling libraries looking for the magazines. No dice. Now this was pre-Internet so I couldn’t just go online and research the publisher. Fortunately one of the librarians had heard of it. I got the publisher’s phone number from her.

My next call was to the publisher. The woman who answered the phone didn’t sound too friendly but I gave her my pitch:

Me: Hi, I’m doing a golf course appraisal and I’ve been told your magazine is a crucial data source. I’d like to get some back issues. Can you help me?

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I guess I didn’t explain myself well. I don’t want new issues. I want back issues. And I need them right away because my report is due in two days.

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I appreciate that you want to sell a subscription. I’ll pay for back issues.

Publisher: You don’t listen very well. A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

I gave up and got to work with what I had.

The next day, thinking I had nothing to lose, I called the publisher back. Someone else answered the phone. I explained what I wanted.

Publisher: Sure, I’m happy to help. How many back issues do you want?

Me: Gosh, six month’s worth would be fine.

Publisher: Where should I send them?

Me: You’re being so helpful, may I trouble you to Fedex them? I’ll give you my account number.

Publisher: Oh, we have a Fedex account, no problem. Do you want it for morning delivery?

Me: Yes, I need them as soon as possible.

Publisher: Do you have a fax machine? I can fax you an issue or two.

Me: That would be FANTASTIC! You’re being so helpful, would you give me the name of your supervisor? I want to write a letter about what a great employee you are.

Publisher: Thank you, but it’s not necessary.

Me: Still, I’d really like to.

Publisher: It’s not necessary. I’m a temp. I won’t be here tomorrow.

I received the back issues and finished the assignment on time.

How I Got Lucky

My luck came from two things:

  1. Asking for help. I was honest about what I needed and used the word “help.” People want to help you. But you have to let them know what you need and why. If you’re legit they will help. I once had a business manager give me confidential details about his client’s sale of a winery when I asked for his help. I’ve always thought his client wouldn’t have liked what he did. But perhaps they were too busy drinking wine to care.
  2. Being persistent. I found a librarian who could help me after to speaking to five or six. The first person at the publisher wasn’t helpful. But if I hadn’t called back I would never have hit the jackpot with the second one.

You can do both of these. You can make your own luck!

What do you do to get lucky? Please comment below.

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

Despite a lack of designer clothing, what people wore during Biblical times conferred status and sometimes caused jealousy. Case in point, Jacob makes a multicolored tunic for Joseph. The gift ignites the envy of his other sons. When you get jealous and start wondering why don’t you have such nice things it undermines your confidence. Parsha Tetzaveh has the cure:

“And they will make the ephod of gold, blue, purple and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen…” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

This Sabbath’s parsha explains the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid (continually lit lamp), how to make the vestments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim, and how to inaugurate them, the mitzvah of the korban tamid (continual offering) and how to build and use the incense alter, the Holy of Holies.

Garments Specifically for the Priests

Not long ago my daughter asked why we’re not allowed to have cloths made from a mixture of wool and linen. She was referring to a verse in the Torah, Deuteronomy/Devarim 22:11, that prohibits wearing such a mixture. I answered her since G-d doesn’t want us to, we don’t in order to show our love for Him. She didn’t seem convinced.

Then I explained to her that garments made from wool and linen mixed together may only be worn by the Kohanim. She accepted this because she knows they have a special relationship with the Almighty but also huge responsibilities. The tradeoff made sense to her.

Contingent Confidence Is Actually Self-Doubt

I doubt you envy the Kohanim. In Biblical times, only Korah and his followers coveted the priesthood and there’s no indications it was because of their vestments. But you may be jealous of a neighbor who has a nice car or takes fantastic vacations. One of the pitfalls of financial success is a heightened awareness of what you have compa. Feeling you don’t measure up often weakens your confidence.

Tying your self-assurance to things or other people means anytime relative wealth changes so does you confidence. When someone gets more, your self-esteem drops. Combating such feelings can be difficult. The lesson of wool and linen garments is one among many that will help you:

  1. Some people have vast responsibilities, ones you don’t want, that enable them to earn huge incomes or unique privileges.
  2. Some people come from wealthy families. Their starting point is different than yours. Comparisons don’t apply.
  3. Some people have suffered a great deal. Though they might gladly give it, all their wealth can’t relieve their pain. Do you really want to trade places?
  4. Some people sacrificed their youth to develop talents that paid off later in life. Even if you are willing to make such a trade off now, it’s impossible. But it doesn’t mean the other person is better than you. Incidentally, he may live with the burden of hating his childhood.

By recalling these truths, you will detach yourself from what other people do or have. Then you can tie your self-confidence to your own personal development. Ridding yourself of envy will make you an unqualified success.

What do you do to be happy about other people’s success? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Event

2 minutes to read

You’re getting ready for a job interview. You have a major presentation that could mean a promotion. The prospective client you’re meeting could be the biggest deal of your career. And you’re nervous. Sweaty palms, dry mouth, and loss of the ability to speak seem to be conspiring to make you fail. What do you do?

How to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Event

The Benefit of Rituals

Baseball fans know the unusual things players do when they come up to bat. As silly as some of them look, research shows they may be on to something. No less an authority than Scientific American indicates that rituals can affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Not only can they help you reduce anxiety and increase confidence, they also help with grieving, whether the loss of a loved one or losing the lottery.

More interesting, rituals can benefit you even if you say you don’t believe in them. There’s no scientific evidence that a particular ritual will lead to a specific result. However, my work helping service members deal with losses such as death of a colleague, divorce, and separation from the military has shown that all handled their grief better when they followed the ritual designed to cope with loss and change.

Calm Your Nerves

You can create your own ritual for decreasing anxiety before a job interview or important meeting. The essential elements are:

  1. Make it simple.
  2. Make it physical, mental, and spiritual.
  3. Create a message to say out loud.
  4. Connect these elements to your desired outcome.
  5. Practice it until you’re comfortable performing it.
  6. Schedule time specifically for performing the ritual.

I go through a simple five-step ritual that takes about 15 minutes before every important business meeting. Despite having practiced and performed it ad nauseam, the first step is bringing up the list of steps so I perform them in order.

Put the powerful tool of ritual to work for you. Examples of things you can do abound. If you need some help let me know.

How do you prepare for important meetings? Please comment below.

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