Category Archives: Relationships

Do You Know Why Relationships are Like Music?

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tazria-Metzora – Leviticus 12:1-15:33

Paraphrasing a question from Father Christopher Allen, a community member, he asks if being ritually clean is related more to wholeness than to physical cleanliness. He refers to two verses in parsha, Tazria-Metzora:

“And if the tzaraas has spread over the skin and the tzaraas covers all of the skin of the one with the lesion, from his head to his feet, on all that the eyes of the kohen can see; and the kohen will look at it. And behold! And the tzaraas covers all of his flesh. And he will declare the person with the lesion ritually pure. He has turned completely white. He is ritually pure.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 13:12-13).

Do You Know Why Relationships are Like Music?

This Sabbath’s parsha is a double reading. The first, Tzaria tells about a woman becoming tahor (spiritually purified) after giving birth and verifying when a person has a tzaraas, baheres or s’eis affliction on his body or a tzaraas affliction on a garment.

Parshas Metzora discusses how a metzora, someone with tzaraas, and a house with a tzaraas become tahor. It also details how a zav, zavah and niddah become tahor.

To understand tahara (the state of being tahor) note that leprosy, a chronic physical disease, is not at all related to tzaraas, which afflicts a person whose life is out of balance or whose relationships are damaged. Today you rely on your conscience and how well your life is going to determine such things. In Biblical times, when the Creator and humanity were closer, tzaraas served as a physical indication that something was amiss on the spiritual level.

If you look at the concept of purity you see ideas such as “without any extraneous elements,” “free of contamination,” and “untainted by immorality.” A pure sound is perfectly in tune. Consider a diamond. Clarity and freedom from impurities increase its value. Now place these concepts on a spiritual plane.

Think about how you feel when you and your spouse are most in tune. Are there any impediments to communication and intimacy? Notice we use the same words for a pure sound and a pure marriage.

Consider your relationships with your children or parents. They’re best when all the extraneous elements are removed, aren’t they? Even if you’re doing something extravagant, a fancy meal, an exotic trip, I suspect what you remember are the laughter or awe you shared. Those moments of pure connection form the essence of relationships. Similarly,

When relationships are in this state we say they are shalom. Most often thought of as a greeting and usually translated as peace, at its root it means whole. When are we at peace? When our lives are whole.

So when a person’s skin is completely white with tzaraas, he is tahor, pure in the sense of whole. But when tzaraas afflicts only part of his body he becomes a metzora because the unaffected skin and the tzaraas-afflicted skin are not in tune with each other. They are contradictory. By purifying his relationships, bringing balance to his spirit, the metzora removes all the tzaraas from his skin, becomes whole again, and is at shalom with his family, the world, and G-d.

Chris, thanks for a another wonderful question!

Father Allen leads the Sts. Joachim and Anna Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas. Like me, he is a navy reserve chaplain, currently with 4th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion.

Do you feel a sort of spiritual tzaraas when your relationships are awry or your spirit unbalanced? 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 a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Relationships are the Building Blocks of Life

If you’ve read my blog before you know I believe life rests on a foundation of relationships. They permeate all of the Three Pillars of Fitness. So I am delighted to share with you a book that addresses the vital topic of building relationships. How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits by Judy Robinett reads fast and serves as a step-by-step guide on the strategy and tactics you need to know to create, build, and improve the relationships you need to direct your life.

While the title focuses on business, Judy addresses familial, personal, and professional relationships. As important, throughout her book, she stresses the importance of shared values as a basic building block for interacting with people.

Darrah Brustein beautifully summarized the book in her article on Entrepreneur.com. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I asked Judy some questions that arose from my reading her book.

Question: How much of your day is devoted to building and maintaining your network?

Answer: Not even a half hour a day. Keep in mind, just because somebody can help you doesn’t mean he will. Be clear about your goals.

Question: In your book, you shared many of your successes. What have you learned from your networking setback besides avoiding bad actors?

Answer: When you hit a wall, just say next. Relationship building requires resilience, and faith in G-d.

Question: There are people who think those who differ with their politics by definition do not share their values or are bad actors. What advice do you have that might help them reconsider this idea?

Answer: You have to be smarter to see the value in two divergent points of view. Just because you have a relationship with someone doesn’t mean you agree with him on all points.

Question: As a person of faith, how would you respond to someone who says if G-d wants me to meet the right people He’ll make it happen?

Answer: This is Santa Claus thinking.

Question: I have found one of the most important functions of experts is to give people permission to do things they otherwise would avoid. [More on this idea in a future blog post] What things will you give people permission to do?

Answer: It’s okay to be afraid. But adopt the good fear – the kind that moves you out and up, known in Hebrew as yira. Keep in mind, almost nothing can be done alone. Know that half of Americans are shy. They feel just like you do. So talk to strangers. Ask people, “What ideas do you have?” “Who should I meet?” Always be thinking - how can I add value?

Aside from being known as the woman with the platinum Rolodex, Judy is a brave woman. Quoting Hebrew to a rabbi!

The other day I was speaking with a colleague about whiskeys and tequilas he found life changing. I had never considered libations could be that impactful. But whether you are a novice entrepreneur or approaching your silver wedding anniversary, Judy’s insight and advice will improve your relationships and help you take your life to the next level. Get her book today!

How would being more strategic about developing relationships help you?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

Why Crazy Love Will Doom Your Relationship

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shemini – Leviticus 9:1-11:47

When I was younger I loved without limit. Too often I found such unrestrained affection was neither returned nor appreciated. But I continued to hold limitless love as the ideal until I understood this week’s parsha, Shemini:

And took the sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, a man his fire pan and they placed in them fire . . . (Vayikra/Leviticus 10:1).

Why Crazy Love Will Doom Your Relationship

This Sabbath’s parsha tells about the performance of the priestly service, the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, the dispute between Moses and Aaron, and the laws of kosher animals, birds, fish and creeping crawling things.

It’s difficult to understand the death of Nadav and Avihu. Intending to serve G-d and show their love for Him, they took their fire pans and brought an incense offering. But G-d had not commanded them to do this so they were consumed by fire.

How is it that two of the greatest people of all time made such a fatal mistake? They acted out of unbounded love for G-d. They followed the correct procedure. And yet the result was terrible.

The next line of the passage gives a clue to the problem. G-d tells Aaron he may not drink wine before performing the Sacrificial Service. Even without this express warning, Nadav and Avihu should have known not to bring an offering while drunk. Still, the death penalty for MWI (Ministering While Intoxicated) seems harsh.

R’ Shimon Schwab asserts that Nadav and Avihu loved G-d without limit, more powerfully than even Moses and Aaron. Toras Kohanim points out that such unbridled love was their fatal misstep.

You’ve probably heard love will cure all of the world’s ills. Make love the focus of all, this philosophy goes, and every problem will melt away. Such

There is no shortage of people who commit heinous acts while claiming deep love for the person they assault or worse. News stories describe murder done to glorify G-d. It is too easy to brush off such love as insincere or their acts misdirected. More likely, their love is deeply sincere.

Nadav and Avihu remind us that even the purest love of G-d can end badly. In their uninhibited expression of love, they neglected to consider their judgment was impaired. As well, had they taken the time to consult with their father or Moses, they would have been counseled that G-d wanted them to balance love with obedience.

Unlimited amounts frequently lead to idolatry. True of such earth-bound things as money and physical fitness, it is also the case in the spiritual realm. Unrestrained love for G-d, breaking the limits He sets, results in misery or evil.

Living an intentional, balanced life requires being thoughtful about avoiding extreme pursuits, whether they are harmful, benign, or, seemingly, beneficial.

Where can pursuing something with out restraint lead to virtue? 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 a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

A Simple Habit to Strengthen Your Relationships

I love affirmations. They help keep me positive and on track. Nowhere is this more important than with my marriage and other important relationships. Here’s my favorite:

A Simple Habit to Strengthen Your Relationships

Here are nine more I love:

  1. "A True Friend is the Most Precious of All Possessions & the One We Take the Least Thought about Acquiring" ~ La Rochefoucauld
  1. "As the Yellow Gold is Tried in Fire, So the Faith of Friendship Must Be Seen in Adversity" ~ Ovid
  1. "Life is Not About Competitions Won It’s About Connections Made” ~ Rick Atchley
  1. "Being Deeply Loved by Someone Gives You Strength; Loving Someone Deeply Gives You Courage" ~ Lao Tzu
  1. "The Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Children Are the Roots of Responsibility & the Wings of Independence" ~ Denis Waitley
  1. “A Good Husband Makes a Good Wife” ~ John Florio
  1. “You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married” ~ Rabs
  1. “A Successful Marriage Requires Falling in Love Many Times, Always with the Same Person” ~ Mignon McLauglin
  2. “Marriage Must Incessantly Contend with a Monster that Devours Everything: Familiarity” ~ Honore de Balzac

Post them on your bathroom mirror, keep them on a card in your journal or wallet, or make them the background on your computer or notebook. Read them daily and they will help you strengthen your bonds with your spouse, children, and friends.

How do you keep important ideas upper most in your mind? Please comment below.

Intimacy Requires Investing Your Essence

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shemos – Tetzaveh 27:20-30:10

Spend any time talking with me about places to live and you’ll find out I dislike Las Vegas. Aside from preferring a cooler climate, I detest gambling. This could be why creating emotional intimacy challenges me. Parsha Tetzaveh, will explain:

“And you will command the Children of Israel . . .” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

Intimacy Requires Investing Your Essence

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.

If you read the parsha carefully you will notice that something is missing. Since the first parsha in Exodus in which he was born, Parshas Tetzaveh is the only one to omit Moses’s name. In the opening line above the “you” is Moses. Unlike the usual way G-d speaks, “And G-d spoke to Moses saying . . .” this week’s parsha refers to him only as you. Why is his name excluded?

One opinion is that 7 Adar, the anniversary of Moses’s death, almost always falls during the week of Tetzaveh. So his name being missing is a fitting memorial for the loss of the greatest prophet of all time. Also, during the Golden Calf incident when Moses pled to G-d to spare the Israelites, he told G-d if He destroys them He should erase his name from the Torah. The Almighty forgives the people, but the words of a great sage are eternal. Thus G-d removed Moses’s name from Parshas Tetzaveh in fulfillment of his plea.

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Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” The Immortal Bard echoed thoughts developed by the Chassidic masters. They noted a name is not for an individual but for others who wish to call to a person. Your name is external, secondary to your inner essence. While your parents chose a name that expressed hope for who you would become, still this represents their goal for you rather than who you really are.

So when G-d declines to call Moses by his name, He is acknowledging Moses risked his very essence in defense of the Israelites. Pleased, G-d speaks to him in the more intimate, second person “you” form, representing Moses’s neshamah, his soul.

Only by risking your essence will you create truly emotionally intimate relationships.

Can spiritual growth happen without intimate relationships?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question 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. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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