Category Archives: Soul

The Truth Is Logic Prevents Success

How to Break Through the Confines of Rational Thinking

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shemos – Exodus 1:1-6:1

My mom spent her career in bookkeeping and accounting. Even as a kid, I knew she didn’t like it. Now retired, she feels she can pursue her passion. My mom has always wanted to be a writer. Her father taught art at Yale University. His paintings adorn the walls of all the families’ homes. Her younger sister has published a book. But logic dominated her work life. She had to support a family. Maybe if I’d understood Parshas Shemos sooner I could have convinced her to take a different path:

"Now the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives…and the second one’s name Puah." (Shemos/Exodus 1:15)

The Truth Is Logic Prevents Success

This Sabbath’s parsha begins the second book of the Torah. A new Pharaoh reigns over Egypt and enslaves the Israelites. He declares all male infants will be killed. Moses is born and Pharaoh’s daughter raises him, nursed by his own mother. He flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian to save a fellow Hebrew’s life. There he meets and marries Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel, also known as Jethro, the priest of Midian.

Moses encounters an angel in a burning bush. G-d appoints him as His messenger to obtain the release of the Children of Israel. Reluctant, Moses bows to the Almighty’s will. He leaves Midian for Egypt. Aaron, his older brother, meets him on the way and becomes his partner in dealing with Pharaoh. They have their first meeting with him. Rather than agreeing to their demands Pharaoh makes the enslavement harsher.

Logic Can Be Harsher Than Reality

The Israelite men despaired over Pharaoh’s decree requiring their newborn sons be thrown into the Nile. Amram, the leader of the Hebrew judicial system and Moses’s father, felt hopeless. He concluded logically they should stop procreating since this only would cause needless death. Amram divorced his wife and became celibate.

Because of his stature, the Israelite men followed suit. Despite the miraculous population increase during the initial phase of the enslavement, reason dictated to the men that they stop having children rather than letting half of them be killed.

Along comes Puah, who we later meet as Miriam, Moses’s older sister. She respectfully reproves her father. Pharaoh, she notes, only wanted to destroy their sons. Her father’s example, followed by all the men, means no daughters either.

Perhaps, says Puah, the people will keep their faith in G-d. If so, they may not listen to the evil Pharaoh. But as a righteous leader, they will follow Amram’s precedent.

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To his credit, Amram accepts Puah’s rebuke and remarries his wife. The procreative lives of the Israelites restart.

Constraining Yourself Through Logic

G-d will let you construct a rational argument to limit yourself. We see this when the Israelites are at the Reed Sea. Trapped between an impassable body of water and the Egyptian army they cry in despair. G-d stands by and lets them remain in their “prison” built from logic.

Then Nachshon decides to take action. He walks into the Reed Sea up to his nose. Against all logic, the Almighty parts the water. The Israelites escape annihilation.

You can constrain yourself using logic to:

  • Avoid hard work. Aspiring to a more successful life takes soul searching and tremendous effort. It’s much easier to employ logic to convince yourself you’ve reached your limits.
  • Protect yourself from disappointment. Reaching for success means at times you’ll fail. You can shelter yourself from pain by building a rational case for not trying.
  • Justify a pessimistic view. If you have challenges that held back relatives or friends you may reason success will evade you too.
  • Reinforce negative belief. You may believe that dreams only come true for a select few. And you’re not among them. People will be happy to support this disempowering belief with “facts.”

Hopefully, you have a Puah who will reframe your life. If not, do it yourself.

Whether you strive for success or not, unshackle yourself by knowing:

  • You can work for someone else’s dream or your own. You get to choose.
  • Setbacks are unavoidable. Confront them on your terms.
  • You are unique. No one else’s experience can dictate the results of your life.
  • Motivation comes in many forms. When you were a kid, remember how committed you were to doing something your parents prohibited?

Amram left faith out of the equation. Don't make the same mistake.

G-d will allow logic to prevent your success. The Almighty will also help you transcend rationality on your way to building a brilliant life.

What logical argument are you using to restrain your success?

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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.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Breakthrough the Fog of a Transition

Why You Must Discover the Genuine You Now

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayechi – Genesis 47:28-50:26

Have you noticed the longer a colleague stays in the military the more his identity merges with his service branch? Leadership encourages this in the interest of esprit de corps. As you move on from military service have you shifted to a civilian outlook? If you see yourself only as a veteran it’s going to be a tough transition. Take an object lesson from Parshas Vayechi:

“A lion cub is Judah… The scepter shall not depart from Judah….’” (Bereshis/Genesis 49:9-10)

How to Breakthrough the Fog of a Transition

This Sabbath’s parsha concludes the book of Genesis. Jacob was near death. He asked Joseph to swear not to bury him in Egypt. Rather, he wanted to be interred in the cave of Machpelah in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah. Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim, thereby making them in effect of his sons. Then he blessed his own sons, though some of the blessings sound more like reprimands.

All Egypt mourned Jacob, testifying to his greatness. The grandeur of his burial procession impressed and scared the Canaanites. After his father’s death, Joseph assured his brothers he forgave them. He lived to see his great-grandchildren. Before he died, Joseph asked his brothers to bring his bones with them when G-d brought them out of Egypt.

The stage is now set for the enslavement of the Israelites and their redemption.

Judah’s Unique Blessing

Only three of the twelve sons got a blessing that dealt with his character and future impact on the Israelites. Jacob pointed out Issachar’s stubbornness. But he predicted he would teach the Israelites G-d’s laws. Jacob described Dan as a serpent and a viper (ouch!). But he appointed him the avenger of the tribes.

Both sons take a hit on character. But Issachar will turn stubbornness into tenacity. And Dan will bite only the Israelites’ enemies.

In contrast, Jacob compared Judah to a lion cub who will grow to become an “awesome lion.” With the character of the king of beasts, Judah inherits the mantle of kingship over Israel. None of his brothers received the double blessing of outstanding moral strength and leadership.

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After Jacob’s death, Judah alone continued life with an unambiguous purpose and mission.

Uncertainty Comes from Lack of Purpose & Mission

When I was seven years old I got a fortune cookie warning me to beware of becoming a jack-of-all-trades. Almost 50 years later I still struggle at times with staying focused on my purpose and mission. A shiny opportunity will flash before my eyes and before I know it I’m off chasing it.

Many people equate the two. But as you saw in the blessings:

  • Purpose describes your traits and character, who you are as a person.
  • Mission tells how you will impact the lives of other people.

They support each other. Your mission should grow out of your purpose. Notice the relationships between the two for Issachar, Dan, and Judah. You may struggle with a trait, such as stubbornness. But you can make it useful for achieving the right mission.

Choosing a mission out of sync with your purpose will cause frustration. Issachar’s inflexibility prevented his being king. Before you choose your personal mission, get clear on your strengths and weaknesses.

Leaving the military necessitates changing your mission. You won’t be on the front lines “support[ing] and defend[ing] the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….” Your purpose will have to change as you transition your identity from service member to civilian.

Step one on your reintegration agenda requires that you uncover your purpose and mission for civilian life. No other accomplishment will have a greater impact on your future happiness and success. Get started now.

Question – Have you taken an inventory of your traits and characteristics?

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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 bout? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

Proven Effective for 3600 Years

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27

Finding your next job in the military was so simple. You got in touch with your branch manager or detailer. You negotiated based on available billets. Done. Private sector job hunting seems so complicated. You have to deal with resumes, job boards, applications, and interviews. But Parshas Vayigash shows the crucial job-hunting tactic is 3600 years old:

“…make them livestock officers over what is mine.’” (Bereshis/Genesis 47:6)

You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

In this Sabbath’s parsha, Joseph’s brothers showed they had learned their lesson. Judah stepped forward to take Benjamin’s place as a slave. Overcome with emotion, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. He convinced them to bring Jacob and their households to Egypt where he would take care of them. At first, Jacob did not believe Joseph was still alive. But the brothers finally convinced him. They loaded up the wagons and moved to Egypt where they settled in Goshen.

The famine came. It was harsh. The Egyptians spent all their money buying food. Then they sold their animals, land, and finally themselves so that they would live. Only the priests were exempt.

The Power of Connections

Joseph’s brothers found work quickly. They got to Egypt and Pharaoh immediately wanted to meet them. He asked them their occupation. They told him they were shepherds. He directed Joseph to make them overseers of his flocks. Wouldn’t it be nice if your job-hunting worked that way?

Think about it. They didn’t agonize over their resumes. They didn’t worry about what questions Pharaoh would ask or how they would answer them. They received expert preparation from Joseph.

That’s the power of an inside connection. When someone who trusts you introduces you to someone who trusts him that person will trust you. The whole job-hunting process becomes a formality.

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Why People Don’t Use This Job-Hunting Secret

Many veterans reject using inside connections. They don’t like favoritism. They think it’s mercenary. But I suspect it actually stems from their not knowing how to create them. If you related to any of these, I have three responses for you:

  1. Choosing a known quantity is not favoritism. It makes sense to work with reliable, honest people. Another person may be dependable and trustworthy. But why take a chance?
  2. It’s only mercenary if you intend to use the person just to get a job then sever the connection. Instead, create connections as part of your long-term professional development. To be at the top of your field, you need to be exchanging ideas with the leaders in it. Your contacts need to do the same thing. Make relationships mutually beneficial.
  3. Most people in the military are impressed with expert marksmen. Even if you didn’t have that level of skill, you appreciated someone else’s achievement. Likewise, you should admire people adept at forming strategic connections. Think about it this way. Marksmanship and relationship development are both skills for dealing with people. The first for elimination. The second for cooperation. Like shooting, you can learn to develop relationships. The commanders you respect in the military are talented at connecting with people. It’s one of the qualities that makes them superior leaders. Rather than refusing to use connections to get a job, become an expert at it

Perhaps you think Joseph shouldn’t have helped his brothers. Or maybe it was okay because they were family. Whether for these reasons or because you don’t know how it’s time to change your attitude.

Be strategic when making connections. See to it that when establishing professional friendships you:

  • Can add value to the person’s career
  • The person can help you

Focus on the myriad of ways for each of you to benefit the other. Then you can become part of the 3600-year-old history of outstanding job-hunters.

Question – What keeps you from making inside connections?

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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!

The Most Amazing Job Interview of All Time

4 Powerful Attributes You Can Use Now

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Mikeitz – Genesis 41:1-44:17

Your palms sweat. Your shirt collar feels tights. You fumble for the right words. Before your know it, the interviewer has thanked you for coming in and you’re out the door. Then the recriminations begin. “If only I’d answered that first question better.” “I should have mentioned that project I did where the CO gave my unit a Bravo Zulu (well done).” Job interviews create an enormous amount of anxiety. Joseph’s rise to Prime Minister in Parshas Mikeitz shows a better way to handle them:

“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘after G-d made known to you all of this, there is no one discerning and wise like you. You will be over my house…’”(Beresheis/Genesis 41:39-40)

The Most Amazing Job Interview of All Time

In this week’s parsha Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and became Viceroy of Egypt. Next, a famine began, resulting in Jacob sending ten of his sons to Egypt to buy food. Joseph knew he must fulfill the prophecy that his brothers would bow down to him. He demanded they bring Benjamin to Egypt. At first, Jacob would not consent but the lack of food became so severe he had no choice. Once they were all there, Joseph endeavored to find out if his brothers’ attitude had truly changed.

From Slave to Prime Minister in One Meeting

With just one conversation the slave Joseph, a prisoner, became Prime Minister of Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, ex-convicts have a hard time finding work, especially for jobs requiring a high degree of trust. Yet the absolute ruler of Egypt promoted Joseph to the number two position of power after just one interview. Granted Pharaoh acknowledged his wisdom and discernment. But how could he have had such confidence in Joseph?

I’ve called it a job interview, but I doubt Joseph looked at it that way. Though he acted with respect, the meeting was between two equals. Pharaoh ruled the most powerful nation on Earth. And even though he’d been in prison for two years, Joseph stood as a prince of the Almighty. He could have felt inferior. But Joseph acted with self-confidence.

Before interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams Joseph acknowledged his own lack of power. He attributed his gift to G-d. From this minor point, Pharaoh extrapolated Joseph’s total integrity. Joseph was modest but honest.

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In the previous parsha, Joseph dreamed his brothers and parents would bow down to him. He didn’t hesitate to share this vision with his family. True to character, for the bad tidings in Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph boldly offered his solution. Pharaoh rewarded his authenticity by appointing him Prime Minister.

How to Have an Amazing Job Interview

I’ve written before that you should not go on job interviews. The interview frame of reference casts you in the role of a beggar. The employer has all the power. You seem to have no control over the outcome. You cannot perform well under this scenario.

When meeting with the hiring manager, you should adopt Joseph’s example. Be:

  • Self-confident. A private sector employer will be fortunate to have your military experience put to work for him
  • Honest. You have skills, abilities, and experience. Don’t hesitate to show your Unique Value Proposition.
  • Modest. People like to know that you’ll give credit where it’s due, whether to them or a military colleague.
  • Authentic. Avoid arrogance and exaggeration. Be professional. Don’t be afraid to let the real you show.

Model Joseph’s attitude and behavior when you meet with a hiring manager. The same formula that made him Prime Minister will land you a high-paying job.

Question – What makes you nervous when meeting to discuss a job?

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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 Deal with the Setbacks You Encounter

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayeishev – Genesis 37:1-40:23

You straightened out your kid’s school problem. Two weeks later the situation is worse than ever. You made the short list for your perfect job. Someone else got it. You’re back to square zero. You paid off all your debts. Bang! Out of the blue, your car dies. And it’s only Wednesday! I can hear you praying for a peaceful life. You deserve some rest! Parshas Vayeishev explains why you won’t get it:

“And Jacob dwelled/sat in the land of his father’s sojourning’s…” (Beresheis/Genesis 37:1)

How to Deal with the Setbacks You Encounter

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Joseph’s prophetic dreams. As a result, his brothers sold him to desert merchants. Arriving in Egypt, they sold him as a slave. All the while Jacob believed he was dead.

In the midst of these travails is the ribald story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar.

Back in Egypt, Joseph rose to run Potiphar’s household. But Potiphar’s wife slandered him. Off to prison he goes. There he interpreted the Chief of Butler’s and Chief of Baker’s dreams. Soon the Israelite’s will descend into slavery.

Why a Peaceful Life Is Bad

Jacob had to flee from his brother who wanted to kill him even though Esau had sold him the birthright. He worked seven years for Rachel and ended up married to Leah. He had to constantly battle his unscrupulous employer Laban to avoid getting cheated.

When Jacob finally returned home he faced annihilation. Shechem abducted and raped his daughter. So two of his sons wiped out every male in Shechem’s city.

After so much turmoil, isn’t Jacob entitled to some rest? The double meaning of dwelling and sitting express Jacob’s wish that he finally get to stand down.

But there’s more trouble in store. G-d is unsympathetic. He says, “The righteous do not consider that which is prepared for them in the World to Come to be enough for them, but they seek to dwell in tranquility in this world too!”

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Why You Encounter Setbacks

Have you ever wondered why good people suffer? If G-d loves you why does He allow or bring so much pain into your life?

The Almighty creates each person to be tested and to grow spiritually. At his spiritual level, Jacob was wrong to seek a peaceful life. G-d wants everyone to adopt this attitude.

You will face challenges in life. Each is an opportunity to raise your spiritual level and resilience. Especially when you feel you’re being punished, ask these questions during and after the incident:

  1. How did I behave?
  2. How did I pass this test?
  3. Was I elevated as a result?
  4. How can I do better on the next test?

G-d is your heavenly parent. He is your teacher. Like the best of both, He challenges you so you will become the best YOU. When you seek a restful life you reject His love. You can deal with the setbacks you encounter. Rather than seeking repose, grow. Pray for strength and guidance.

Question – Does being loving always mean being nice?

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. 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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