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!

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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