Category Archives: Soul

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?

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!

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!

How to Maximize Your Inner Strength

Using Solitary Time for Spiritual Growth

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

Have you seen the TV show Rawhide? Clint Eastwood gained his first claim to fame as Rowdy Yates in a 7-½-year long cattle drive. Often you see a single rider out on the plains. Can you imagine being so alone? No cellphone to contact his fellow cowboys. No iPod to feed music through earbuds. Just the noise of cattle moving and an occasional shout carried on the wind. What did these cowboys do with so much solitary time? Parshas Vayishlach answers:

“And Jacob was left alone…” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:25).

How to Maximize Your Inner Strength

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Jacob preparing to be attacked by Esau. He defeats an angel who gives him the name Israel.  Then he reunites with his brother. Jacob settles in Shechem where the prince of the country abducts and rapes his daughter. His sons, Simeon and Levi, take revenge by killing all the males in Shechem.

Jacob travels to Bethel where G-d confirms his new name. The Almighty reaffirms He will give the land of Canaan to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with his son, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

The Source of Inner Strength

An army of 400 men doesn’t sound big by today’s standards. But it was a powerful force in Jacob’s time. As far as Jacob knows, Esau’s vow to kill him stands. Nor does he have any reason to think his brother will be merciful with his family.

Yet the night before a battle, Jacob goes off by himself. He sacrifices what may be his last few hours of life with his family. To what purpose?

Life can be summed up in two words: “emulate G-d.” The Almighty embodies all creation. In Him, the physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual realms perfectly merge. In this ultimate unity, the G-d is unique. Jacob knew he needed the inner strength that comes from unity and uniqueness.

The Torah describes the battle between Jacob and the angel as a wrestling match. But beating an angel is a spiritual victory. It came through the innermost resolve in Jacob’s soul.

Jacob could not have mustered such spiritual strength amid the chaos of family life. He needed solitary time to model the Almighty’s uniqueness. By unifying the three realms, he became unconquerable.

Transitions Require Solitary Time

One of the best character traits you can develop is the ability to be alone. When faced with a major change in your life, you will need every ounce of inner strength. By keeping your soul focused on your desired outcome you are much more likely to achieve it.

Conversely, lack of spiritual commitment to a transition undermines your mindset. You may feel unsure of yourself. New friends, colleagues, and hiring managers you have to interact with sense your hesitancy. They get nervous about dealing with you. Each feeds on the other.

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Jacob inherited his ability to grow through being alone from his grandfather Abraham. G-d Himself called Abraham unique in his world. No one exceeded him in pursuing G-d. But you don’t have to have such an illustrious ancestor.

To gain inner unity, you need to forge your ability to be alone.

  1. Explain to your family why you need to take time away from them periodically.
  2. Find a comfortable place where you can be alone with you thoughts.
  3. Plan to do nothing, just think.
  4. Meditate on what makes you unique. Reflect on your values, skills, experiences, and your goals. How do they form you into a unified individual?
  5. Write down your thoughts. Read them back to yourself. Do they make sense? If not, clarify them.
  6. Each time you practice being alone, go deeper. Like exercising your muscles, spiritual strength comes from overcoming resistance. In this case, the hurdles come from the heart and soul.

Before the crunch of a transition hits you, build your inner strength. Get crystal clear on your uniqueness. Create the foundation for an unshakeable mindset. Take solitary time to fortify yourself for the battle to come.

Question – How can you gain the most benefit from alone time?

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!

Here is the Method that Will Help You Reach Your Goals

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10-32:3

Periodically, Melanie argues we should leave Los Angeles. The cost of living and taxes are outrageous. Despite building a light rail system, traffic gets worse each year. Materialism pervades everywhere. But the conversation bogs down because we can’t just leave L.A. We have to go somewhere else. Until we have the clarity Jacob gets in Parshas Vayeitzei, I guess we’ll stay put:

“And Jacob went out from Beer-Sheba, and he went to Haran.” (Beresheis/Genesis 28:10)

Here Is the Method that Will Help You Reach Your Goals

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Jacob fleeing to his uncle Laban’s house. On the way there he has an encounter with G-d. Jacob meets Rachel and falls in love. He agrees to work seven years so he can marry her. The morning after his wedding he finds himself married to Leah. So he agrees to work another seven years to marry Rachel.

Next Jacob and his wives have eleven sons, who become leaders of the tribes, and one daughter.  Jacob and Laban make a new work contract. But eventually, the discord between them becomes so great Jacob flees with his household. At the end of the parsha, Laban and Jacob reach détente.

Know Why You’re Going

We know from the previous parsha that Isaac was living in Beer-Sheba. The Torah tells us Jacob went to Haran. But it also says he went out from Beer-Sheba. Umm, duh. He couldn’t have gotten to Haran without leaving Beer-Sheba. The Torah doesn’t waste words, so why does it tell us this?

Jacob needed to follow two directives. Rebecca told him to get away from the danger of Esau wanting to kill him. And Isaac instructed him to marry one of Laban’s daughters. Jacob performed both duties. By leaving Beer-Sheba, he did what his mother commanded him. And by going to Haran he did as his father commanded.

Okay, so Jacob obeyed his parents. But the 10 Commandments will make it clear we have to do that. Again there’s that repetition problem.

Rebecca’s and Isaac’s directives converged into one large goal. They wanted to ensure Jacob was fit to fulfill what G-d had in mind. If Esau killed him, he could not physically assume the mantle of leadership from Isaac. If he chose the wrong wife, he would not be fit mentally and spiritually to lead.

Give Yourself Two Motives to Reach Your Goals

Every worthwhile goal has two parts to it:

  1. Moving toward something
  2. Giving something up.

While he had to escape from his brother, the task set by his father gave Jacob direction. He could move toward finding a wife. But striking out on a new path is difficult. Esau forced him to give up his former life. Both gave Jacob the incentive to persevere.

Any goal you set must fit into your larger life’s purpose. If you find yourself not reaching a goal, examine whether it aligns with the person you want to become. Does it help you fulfill your mission?

Sometimes a goal lights up your soul but isn’t in alignment with your purpose. Do you still have passion for your purpose and mission? Yes. Change your goals. No. Alter your mission and purpose.

Jacob’s example can motivate you to get a job you love, improve your marriage, or reinvigorate your relationship with G-d. Have a passionate why, a positive motivation, and a powerful incentive to leave behind the part of yourself that previously held you back.

Question – Can you identify a goal that does not have these two components?

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!

How to Put Your Negative Traits to Good Use

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

I know service members raised in terrible circumstances who completely turned their lives around. Being in the military helped them along the way. But their transformations were not inevitable. They could just as easily have gone the other way. Parshas Toldos gets at the root of how they changed:

“And the first one emerged ruddy (red)…” (Bereshis/Genesis 25:25)

How to Put Your Negative Traits to Good Use

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with the birth of Jacob and Esau. Their respective characters become evident when Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for some lentil stew. A famine forces Isaac to move to Gerar. He wrangles with the Philistines and makes a treaty with Abimelech.

Next Esau marries two Canaanite women. Isaac blesses Jacob and Esau. Then, though he sold his birthright, Esau hates Jacob for getting the blessing of the first-born. So Jacob flees to his grandfather’s house. Before he leaves, Isaac tells him not to marry a Canaanite woman. The parsha ends with Esau marrying a third time. Who needs Dynasty?

Your Nature Doesn’t Change

Esau’s redness might have been unremarkable if Jacob was the same. The difference served to contrast their characters. Ruddiness marked Esau as a spiller of blood. He became a great hunter but also a murderer.

The famous King David also was born red. When the prophet Samuel anointed David as king, he was concerned this negative trait marked him as a murderer like Esau. But G-d told him that while Esau killed in cold blood, David would kill only to carry out the verdicts of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court in Jerusalem.

Esau and David got to choose whether to follow or defy their natures. Esau could have used his natural disposition to work for justice like David did. Esau excelled at honoring his mother and father. Rather than embracing this trait and expanding it, he chose the easy path.

He convinced himself that since nature doesn’t change he could not conquer his urges toward evil.

Both were born with the same sign. Esau opted for evil, David for good. Each exercised his free will to a different purpose. Their natures were the same. The paths they chose differed.

Turning Negative Traits to Good

On some level, you might sympathize with Esau. Exercising consistent control over negative traits wears you out. Going cold turkey may seem like the only solution. But there is another way.

If you try to go completely against your nature you won’t succeed. Rather seek to understand your character traits, both good and bad.

I call this Spiritual Jujitsu. For example, you may be hyper-competitive. Rather than trying to suppress it put it to work helping other people learn to excel.

You must always work on your self-control. But fighting your nature can be a frustrating experience. Esau and King David show that no matter what your nature, you choose the type of life you’ll lead.

Question – If people are born good, as is commonly believed today, why should you be concerned about using Spiritual Jujitsu?

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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