Category Archives: Resilience

Do You Know 2 Ways to Feel You’re Improving?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Balak – Numbers 22:2-25:9

Several months ago I was leaving a parking lot and got stuck behind a women who didn’t know how to use the credit card exit system. After about ten minutes I went to help her. As I walked up the parking lot attendant arrived and took charge of the situation. Returning to my car, the passenger in the car behind mine got out and ordered me to move on. I replied I was helping the lady. His response (read on) was like the one Balak chose in this week’s parsha, Balak:

And now, go please and curse this people for me, for it is too powerful for me… (Numbers/Bamidbar 22:6)

Do You Know 2 Ways to Feel You're Improving-

This Sabbath’s parsha tells the story of how Balak, the king of Moab, attempted to have Bilaam, one of the greatest prophets of all time, curse the Children of Israel. It includes my wife’s favorite story in Scripture, the talking donkey. The parsha ends with Pinchas spearing Prince Zimri and his Mindianite lover at the entrance to the Tenant of Meeting.

The Fundamental Biblical Concept

Several common themes can be seen throughout the Bible. Most prominent is G-d’s kingship. He gives instructions about how to live our lives. Another gets to the core of Balak’s appearance in the narrative. As you might recall, Moab was the child of Lot and his daughter. In spite of such a sordid beginning, he prospered and built a great nation. As king of the nation of Moab, Balak had wealth and power. He commanded the respect of his people and neighboring rulers.

Like any human being, Balak’s life was a series of choices. To what purpose would he put his wealth? How would he use his power? Each day he confronted these questions. The courses of action he took reveal his character.

So it is for every person. The choices you make each day tell people what kind of person you are. What you decide to say and do trumps any claims you make about integrity.

How to Feel You’re Improving

Balak felt threatened by the Israelites. He knew G-d treasured them. Perhaps he was jealous. He had two choices:

  1. Take action to improve himself.
  2. Denigrate the Israelites so he’d feel better by comparison.

Had Balak chosen option one he would be remembered as a great man. Sadly he chose to attack the Children of Israel. The origin of Balak’s name attests to G-d’s verdict. Had he pursued self-improvement he might have been remembered as the devastator of sin. Instead, balaq means to waste or lay waste.

At times you’ll feel threatened or jealous. Such emotions are common. Anytime they challenge you your choices are the same as Balak’s.

The passenger who ordered me to move must have felt intimidated by my trying to help the confused woman. He lashed out at me saying, “Old man you’re too weak to help yourself let alone anyone else.” I was tempted to ask him, “Do you feel you’re improving yourself?”

I doubt you’d voice such a harsh putdown. But vocal tone and facial expression can do the same thing without words. In an unguarded moment do you make yourself feel you’re improving at someone else’s expense? You may feel like you’re boosting your self-confidence. But such gains are illusory. You just FEEL better. You aren’t better.

Choose actual self-improvement. When someone makes you feel jealous make then an example to strive for. Genuine self-esteem is built from real accomplishments.

How do you guard against feeling like you’ve improved at others’ expense? 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!

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

2 minutes to read

A few weeks ago while running I got a sharp pain behind my right ankle. Like most runners my first thought was, “Keep running. It will stop.” But after another half a block I knew something bad had happened. For the first time I called my wife mid-run to pick me up.

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

Pride or Progress?

I could barely walk when she found me hobbling down the street. A week of rest, icing my ankle, and ibuprofen didn’t get me back to running. Enough was enough. I went to see the doctor. My podiatrist, Dr. Robert Joseph, isn’t just your run of the mill health care provider. He tells you his mission up front. “I’m here to make sure you can keep exercising.” He got me running virtually pain free the next day without using drugs.

Lest you think this is a fluke, he did the same for me about a year before. That time I had a pain in my left foot when running but not when walking. I wasted over three weeks trying everything from ice packs to taping. Nothing worked. Finally I went to see Dr. Joseph. He had me running my regular 5-mile route the next day. Pain-free.

I’m an accomplished runner. I’ve kept up with physiology since high school. My wife is a registered nurse. Often I dither when she tells me to go see a doctor. The sooner I overcome my ego and listen to her the faster I can get back to training.

I could cite similar examples for mental and spiritual blocks that I overcame with my coach’s or rabbi’s help. The choice comes down to indulging my pride or making progress toward my goal.

Time to Seek Out an Expert

Pain indicates you need a top adviser to help you. But it isn’t the only indicator that you need a specialist. Consider:

  1. You’re striving for world-class status. Take a clue from Tiger Woods, Richard Branson, and other preeminent performers, you need a mentor to excel.
  2. You’ve hit a plateau. Whether it’s you’re golf game or professional life, you’re going to hit roadblocks. The barrier could stem from inadequate skills, the wrong mindset, or spiritual misalignment. It takes an expert to diagnose and help you overcome the issue.
  3. You don’t know what to do. Are you looking to change careers or create or improve a relationship? If you’re entering a new arena you can learn by trial and error or get coaching that will substantially reduce your learning curve.

Two characteristics identify a professional. They know their business inside and out. They seek out an expert when they’re outside their own area of expertise. If you’re wrestling with any of these four challenges, don’t let ego hold you back from the success you desire. Find the expert you need to breakthrough.

Where are you looking to excel or transition in your life? Please comment below.

You’re Never Beyond Having to Prove Yourself

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Korach – Numbers 16:1-18:32

In the military you change jobs every two or three years. Moving and getting your family settled in a new home present challenges. Another isn’t talked about often. Each new billet is an opportunity to grow your technical and leadership skills. Your new commanding officer often knows little about you. The people you’ll work with have formed a tight group. You have to break in. No matter your seniority, you have to prove yourself time and again. Parshas Korach explains why this is good:

…each man's name you will inscribe on his staff. And the name of Aaron you will inscribe on the staff of Levi… (Numbers/Bamidbar 17:17-18)

You’re Never Beyond Having to Prove Yourself

This Sabbath’s parsha starts with Korach and his followers rebelling against Moses and Aaron. Unlike the previous complaints about food and water, Korach wanted to seize the leadership of his cousins Moses and Aaron.  He tried to take advantage of the Israelite’s unhappiness having to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. As a result of the rebellion, fire consumed 250 insurgents. The Earth swallowed up their households.  A harsh punishment indeed!

Aaron’s Challenge

You might think Aaron shouldn’t have had to prove himself. After all, the Almighty chose him to be the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).

The Israelites loved Aaron. When he died they mourned for him 30 days. But the incident of the golden calf exposed his tenuous position. Aaron feared that the people would kill him if he refused their demand for a ruler to replace Moses. He hoped that before the calf was ready Moses would return. In any event, Aaron knew he was being tested. He kept a tight rein on his pride and went along with their plan.

Even after G-d’s miraculous crushing of Korach’s rebellion, the people’s doubt remained. They wanted proof that the Creator chose Moses and Aaron to lead them. Only those who feel inferior resist meeting a test of their position. Aaron was truly great. He participated in the test of the staffs. He did not display any anger at having to prove himself.

Greatness Comes When You Repeatedly Prove Yourself

There’s nothing demeaning about the military requiring people to prove themselves at every new job. In a pyramid structure the wheat has to be winnowed from the chaff. You learn that arrogance usually hides inferior ability. When lives are at stake, no one is above having to prove himself.

It’s no different in civilian life. Each new position gives you the chance to grow. It presents an opportunity to prove yourself to colleagues and supervisors.

Excellence is valuable no matter where you work or what you do. It is frustrating being tested all the time. But through meeting these challenges you will find out how great you are. Follow the example of Aaron. Though he was one of the greatest human beings who ever lived, he never got angry about being tested. He used them to increase his spiritual mastery.

When called upon to prove yourself, make it an incentive to up your game. Doing anything less means you’re selling yourself short.

What is your plan for showing gratitude each day? 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!

Do You Want Security? Challenge Yourself!

2 minutes to read

With the world changing so much how do you keep up? It’s no news that every industry is in a state of perpetual change. Our personal lives face constant new challenges. People crave a slower pace. Keeping up seems to mean staying on an ever-faster treadmill. Where can you find security?

Do You Want More Security-

Traditional Places to Find Security

I speak with lots of veterans. Most want security above all else. They focus their job search only on jobs that fit the skills they’re comfortable doing. Many look for a GS job or one with state or local government. They get frustrated when they can’t find one. Those that get a position figure out working for the government isn’t secure today. Limited resources and periodic budget battles frequently cause job uncertainty.

Community used to be a source of security. But for people over 25, less than half stay in the state in which they were born. That’s just for their home state. I suspect for towns the number is even lower. Phones and social media allow you to stay connected to far-flung friends. But these connections are not as secure as face-to-face relationships.

People used to find security in church. But regular attendance has dropped to around 20%. Community and stability can be found there but few people are seeking it out.

The family seems to be the last bastion of security. But over the last 50 years the number of people living alone has nearly doubled. The number of people living with a spouse or partner, as opposed to children, continues to decline.

None of the traditional places people sought security is stable.

Exercise Your Ability to Absorb Change

Ignoring change is impossible. Like it or not new ways to communicate and drive are coming. Companies will adjust to new opportunities so your work will be different in the future. You have two choices for handling perpetual change:

  1. Let yourself be blind-sided by new challenges.
  2. Intentionally confront change and condition yourself to adapt to it.

In the first case you will always feel insecure. You won’t know what to expect or how to deal with it.

When you take the initiative to learn the skills it takes to adapt you’ll feel secure. You’ll be prepared to deal with life’s twists and turns. Coupled with the skills and experience you already have, the ability to adjust and reposition yourself in the job market means you’ll always have an income. The ability to overcome new challenges in your relationships will bring you greater emotional security.

You can learn to absorb change through coaching and by having a mentor. You can find people to help you in a faith community. Many clergymen and lay leaders are trained to help their congregants build resilience.

Resolve today to stop being a casualty of life’s unceasing change. Live intentionally by choosing to challenge yourself.

How can you confront a change that will better your life? Please comment below.

How to Get the Most Benefit from Pain

Sometimes getting older isn’t much fun.  Case in point, while exercising I got a stab of pain in my leg. Miles and miles of running has injured my Achilles tendon. You may know the drill. No exercise for the last week and half. Custom orthotics. Get an MRI. And Pray.

God grant me pain that I may grow…

Pain Isn’t Bad

Despite it hurting, pain is good. You get an unmistakable sign to be aware. When you’re alert to your physical ∞ mental ∞ and spiritual well being you can immediately take action. You have two choices:

  • Push through it. Sometimes pain is just a test of your commitment. When you persevere you come out stronger for having pushed beyond your old limit.
  • Change course. Other times, continuing your behavior despite hurting causes greater injury. My Achilles tendon is a case in point. Had I kept running when I felt stab in my calf I could have severely damaged my leg.

When you’re in tune with all the realms of life, physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual, you’ll be in the best position to decide which path to take. If you have to make such a crucial decision, a little prayer certainly won’t hurt. So I wrote this one for you. I hope it helps.

How do you respond to pain? Please comment below.

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