Category Archives: Relationships

How to Respond to People with Offensive Values

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chayei Sarah – Genesis 23:1-25:18

Freedom means encountering people and values that make you uncomfortable. As a new chaplain, I was told not to use Hebrew when giving a public prayer. I thought the person giving me this instruction was hypersensitive or bigoted. Latin didn’t bother me. Why should Hebrew bother others? I could have protested. But to what end? It would have offended people. And I would have lost any chance to impact their lives. Parshas Chayei Sarah gives a tried and true method for handling this situation:

“…also for your camels I will draw until they finish drinking.” (Beresheis/Genesis 24:19)

How to Respond to People with Offensive Values

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Sarah dying. Abraham purchased a burial site, interred her, and devotedly mourned. Next, he ordered Eliezer, his servant, to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham remarried. The narrative concludes with his death and the death of Ishmael.

Avoid Offending People

Consider what Abraham knew about his neighbors. G-d brought the flood because most people robbed or committed sexual immorality. He lived during the time of the Dispersion when people challenged G-d’s authority with the Tower of Babel. After she gave birth, Hagar mocked his beloved Sarah’s barrenness. Efron the Hittite grossly overcharged him for a burial site even as he grieved over his wife’s death.  He probably knew that Cain murdered Abel.

Not a pretty picture.

Abraham rejected his neighbors’ values. But he did not run around protesting them. Nor did he engage in heated words or provoke them. He wore mourning garments. But only because his wife died not to show he abhorred other people's values. He continued to live his life.

Abraham knew he could not change anyone’s behavior or beliefs through confrontation or insults.

Nothing has changed in the last four millennia. You will not change anyone’s mind by offending him. You’ll only harden his position.

Secure the Next Generation’s Values

Abraham took action too. He redoubled his effort to ensure Isaac would keep his values. Eliezer received specific instructions about a suitable wife for his son and heir.

Eliezer set out for Abraham’s homeland. On arriving there, he decided the proper young woman must offer to alleviate his thirst, then that of his camels. Deep sensitivity to animal welfare does not necessarily indicate a similar attitude toward humans. But someone who responds to the needs of a stranger and then even his animals is a paragon of kindness.

Along came Rebecca. Her brother was one of the greatest liars in history. So sensitive was she to honesty, Rebecca said she would draw water for his camels. Her words implied she could not be sure they would drink. Though surrounded by selfishness and deceit, she remained virtuous. Rebecca’s strength of character qualified her as co-heir to Abraham’s legacy.

Together, Isaac and Rebecca would ensure G-d’s morality endured despite their neighbor’s depravity.

Without demonstrations, insults, or threats of withdrawal, Abraham stayed the course. As a result, his values have survived for over 4,000 years. Most of humanity continues to reject those of the Canaanite nations.

You have two choices when people’s values offend you. Abandon your own by attacking those you disagree with. Or adhere to them more closely. Become an even more shining example of how good they are. Be more diligent about teaching them to your children. Then have faith that G-d will see to their endurance.

Question – How do you engage with people whose values offend you?

Please 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. 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!

How to Disagree So People Will Listen

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeira – Genesis 18:1-22:4

In the military, we speak bluntly. We take pride in our words not needing sugarcoating. But you’ve probably noticed civilians prefer less direct communication. Veterans speak to me about their frustration over how sensitive their coworkers are. Bridging this cultural divide will help smooth the transition to civilian life. In Parshas Vayeira, Abraham models how to be direct and diplomatic:

“…and Abraham approached and said…” (Beresheis/Genesis 18:23)

How to Disagree So People Will Listen

The Sabbath’s parsha begins with Abraham receiving three guests who reiterate the promise that he will have a son. Then he learns about the fate of Sodom, where his nephew Lot is living, and Gomorrah. G-d destroys the cities but saves Lot and his daughters. After having relations with their father they give birth to Moab and Ammon. Abimelech abducts Sarah but releases her when he finds out she’s Abraham’s wife. Isaac is born. Abraham sends away Hagar and Ishmael. Then he makes an alliance with Abimelech. The parsha ends with the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac.

Stand Tall with Confidence

Abraham was at the most painful stage of his recovery from being circumcised. G-d chose that time to tell him He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Despite feeling awful, Abraham knew he must intervene.

The Torah uses the word vaiyigash to describe how Abraham initiated the discussion. From how the Bible uses the same word in other places, we know it means he approached for battle. In other words, Abraham prepared for conflict with the Almighty. While he pled for mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, his bearing projected confidence and resolution of purpose.

Most people respect self-assurance. You can convey it through your body language. Communicate friendliness and a desire for mutual understanding. Sit down and invite the other person to join you. Monitor your tone of voice.

People Will Listen to Calm Words

Abraham spared no argument trying to convince G-d to pardon Sodom and Gormorrah. He pointed out, “it will be a sacrilege to You” since people will say that “this is what G-d does! Just as He did to the generation of the flood, so He did to the generation of the Disunion.” He questioned the justice of the Almighty’s plan. Then he negotiated with G-d, trying at least to save the righteous residents.

Abraham’s bearing communicated directness so his speech could be diplomatic. He used respectful and humble words when speaking to G-d.

As long as your bearing conveys strength, your words can be gentle. The person you’re talking to will get your point. Whether a co-worker, your spouse or child, when you disagree think firm but gentle. People will listen. And, you’ll maintain the relationship.

Do you find it difficult to bridge the military-civilian communication gap? What issue challenges you?

Please 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. 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!

How to Be an Insider Who Gets the Job

3 minutes to read

Many veterans tell me stories about not getting a job that they obviously qualify for. They can’t figure out why they lost out or didn’t even get a meeting with HR. It feels like when you were a kid and wanted to be in a particular club. Try as you might, they wouldn’t let you in. If your hunt for employment feels like constant rejection from the “in crowd,” you’re committing job search sin #7: Applying for a job at a company where you don’t have an internal advocate.

How to Be an Insider Who Gets the Job

The Huge Advantage of Getting Referred

About 7% of applicants for a job got referred by someone already working at the company. But 40% of people hired by a company come from employee referrals. Six times as many people apply for jobs through job boards. But only 15% of hires come from that source. Your chances of landing the job you want increase significantly when you have an advocate in your target company. Consider that:

  • 86% of employers and recruiters said referrals are their top source for quality candidates.
  • 70% of employers felt referred hires better fit their companies’ culture and values.
  • 67% said the recruiting process is shorter with referrals.
  • 51% said it was less expensive with referrals.

You may be thinking that’s fine for employers, but what about me?

  • Employees hired through referrals reduce their average start time from 39-55 days to 29 days.
  • The process for hiring a referred employee is 55% faster than one who comes through a career site.
  • Referred employees stay at companies two to three times longer than those hired through a job board.

You’ll likely have greater job satisfaction if you’re referred to a company.

So if having an insider advocating for you is so great, why doesn’t every job searcher get one? Well, most people don’t have the basis for making the initial connection. And they won’t do the hard work to build the relationships.

As a veteran, neither of these hurdles stands in your way. Military people love to help each other out. And you’re used to working hard.

Becoming an Insider

Here’s where social media gives you a huge advantage. Once you’ve identified a target company, find another veteran who works there. Stick with someone who served in your branch of the service if possible. Then get in touch with the person and start building a relationship.

Earlier this year I wrote several posts on relationships building. They explain how to choose whom to connect with and the process of growing relationships. If you’re not sure how to get started select a topic, read up on it, then take action.

Learn what it takes to go from contact to relationship.

Build relationships physically, mentally, and spiritually. Keep in mind business relationships are first and foremost relationships.

How to spend your time creating relationships wisely.

How to make connections.

Prepare yourself to invest time.

Be on the lookout for fortunate opportunities to create relationships.

You may blow the first few contacts. But remember, you’re dealing with your fellow veterans. We’ve been there and want to help you. So be genuine, be open, and by all means be proactive! Get a company you want to work for in your sights. Then go find your internal advocate so you can be an insider and get a job you’ll love.

What is the best way for you to connect to other people?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below.

How to Improve Your Colleagues’ Ethics

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1-17:27

Americans believe that service members’ ethics rank among the highest of any profession. Yet many service members have the opposite view of their fellow citizens. In fact, there are scoundrels in the military and civilian life. Holding to such a high standard causes service members to fall into a trap. Parshas Lech Lecha explains:

“Only what the young men ate and the share of the men that went with me; Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre, they will take their share.” (Genesis/Bereishis 14:24)

How to Improve Your Colleagues’ Ethics

In this Sabbath’s parsha G-d tells Abram (later Abraham) to leave his land and relatives to go to the land of Canaan. Abram sojourns in Egypt during a famine then returns to Canaan. Abram and his nephew Lot part ways. Then G-d promises to give the Land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants. Abram wins a war and rescues Lot. But he turns down the booty that normally goes to the victor.

Next, the Almighty reiterates His promise to give Canaan to Abram and his descendants. Sarai (later Sarah) tells Abram to take her servant for a wife. Then G-d and Abram make the covenant of circumcision. Finally, G-d gives Sarai and Abram new names and the promise of a son to be named Isaac.

Stretch to Reach the Highest Ethical Standards

Abraham rejected the King of Sodom’s offer to split the war booty. His refusal seems strange in light of America’s practice of giving veterans benefits. Abraham earned his share. And it looks like he violated Henny Youngman's central tenet of Judaism, nem de gelt – get the money.

Shortly after the war Abraham and Sarah have a child. Then G-d tells them another will be coming a year later. Even though they didn’t have to pay college tuition, some extra shekels would have come in handy.

While he appears arrogant, Abraham acted with a holy motive. Not long after this incident, G-d destroyed Sodom because of its depravity. How would it have looked for Abraham to take the booty? The King of Sodom could have said he enriched him. Abraham wanted people to know his wealth came from the Almighty not the ruler of a corrupt nation.

Be the Example Not the Enforcer

That being the case, why did Abraham allow Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre to take a share? If rejecting the spoils was the right thing to do, Abraham should have had his men do so too.

Morality is not the same thing as personal ethics. As the victor in a war, Abraham had a right to the spoils. Keeping them would not have violated any Biblical principle. Abraham’s personal standard prevented his taking the loot. He wished to elevate himself above the minimum requirement.

Each person has a right to be strict with himself. But it’s wrong to force others to be more stringent than the Bible requires. As praiseworthy as Abraham was, it would have been equally inappropriate to place that standard on his men.

Human nature seems to drive people to be tough on others and lenient with themselves. The opposite will build and maintain strong relationships. And, by insisting others live up to your standard you close yourself off from opportunity, like a great job.

Be careful to distinguish between someone acting immorally and not living according to your standard. If you judge someone from the outset you preclude any relationship. Let them find their own path to loftier principles. Show you value the relationship. Then you’ll have the chance to positively influence a colleague’s personal ethics.

Question – How do you show proper regard for another person without compromising your own standards? 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!

Strong Relationships Require Place and Faith

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bereishis – Genesis 1:1-6:8

The word friend today means something different than in times past. I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Some I’ve never met or even spoken with. For a close relationship, place comes to mind. You know you can’t have a strong marriage when you’re never home. Relations with your kids suffer when you have to be away. Likewise, in your relationship with G-d, Parshas Bereishis shows place matters:

“In the beginning of G-d creating the heavens and the earth….” (Genesis/Bereishis 1:1)

Strong Relationships Require Place and Faith

The parsha for this Sabbath, Bereishis, begins a new cycle. It tells the story of creation and how Adam and Eve sinned and got thrown out of the Garden of Eden. The conflict between Cain and Abel explains we are our brother’s keeper. It ends by enumerating the ten generations between Adam and Noah. Isn’t it wonderful to be reading the great stories of the Torah again?

Judaism and the Land of Israel

The Torah contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Other names include the Five Books of Moses and Toras Chaim. The second one means rules for life. Not a history book, the Torah instructs you on how to have a relationship with G-d and other people.

So why does it start with a lengthy narrative about the creation of the world? Surely the Creator knew this story would cause a bitter argument among His children. Quarreling about whether it’s literal or allegorical won’t build relationships.

Rather, this parsha and the rest of Beresheis prove the Jewish people’s title to the Land of Israel. Many mitzvas (ways of relating to G-d) depend on living there so it is crucial to establish this claim. Like trying to sustain your marriage without a home, without the Land of Israel, G-d’s relationship with the Jewish people weakens. Were the Land lost forever the relationship might die.

Out of Contention Comes Faith

Still the question remains. Did the Almighty create the world in six 24-hour days or over billions of years? This dispute underlies a crucial principle for understanding the Bible. The question is more important than the answer.

No matter the time period of creation, the Almighty challenges you to have faith in His eternality and omnipotence. He could have created the universe in six days or six eons. The difference is indistinguishable to Him. But faith is indispensable for establishing your relationship with G-d. The same applies to your spouse, children, and friends. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes or disappoint you. Without faith in their love and good intentions your relationship will not survive.

Creationism versus cosmology makes a lively discussion. Remembering why the Creator opens the Bible with such a contentious story will give you enduring relationships.

Question – Which do you find a bigger challenge to your marriage: place or faith? Please leave a 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!

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