Tag Archives: emotional resilience

Adversity Is the Best Friend You’ll Ever Have

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ha’azinu – Deuteronomy 32:1-52

My daughter experienced her first major life setback last week. It caught her completely by surprise. Much to her chagrin, I cannot fix what happened. Even worse, I had to make it clear she was completely responsible. I wanted to comfort her. But I knew if I did she would not take valuable lessons to heart. Good thing Parshas Ha’azinu explains why adversity is her best friend:

“…like storms winds upon vegetation and like raindrops on grass.” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 32:2)

Adversity Is the Best Friend You’ll Ever Have

This week’s parsha is the last Sabbath reading of the cycle. Moses teaches the Israelites a redemptive song. In it he calls on heaven and earth to witness all the disasters that will happen if they stray from G-d. He also describes the joy that will come with the final redemption. At the end of the parsha G-d gives Moses his final task.

G-d Wants to Bond with You

Moses spent most of his life tending to the Israelites. Starting decades earlier, he led them out of Egypt. For 40 years he shepherded them through the wilderness. Now, on the border of the Promised Land, he must leave them. He has complete faith in Joshua, their new leader. Yet despite doing his best, the future foretells disaster for his flock.

I can imagine Moses would like to make life easier for the Children of Israel. After all, isn’t that the instinct of every loving parent? But he knows a trouble-free life will mean even greater catastrophe. Hoping against hope, he reminds his people that storm winds are as necessary to life as raindrops.   Resolutely facing adversity builds resilience and an unbreakable bond with G-d.

Seek Out Your Best Friend

You probably think I’m crazy for suggesting you should seek out painful situations. Hear me out. By choosing the challenge you’ll face, you stand a better chance of conquering it.

  • You can prepare. A mountain climber makes sure he has all the required equipment before starting out. Something may break or get lost. He’ll still have to improvise at times. But he doesn’t plan on the fly. He sizes up the challenge, trains for it, and prevails.
  • You can create meaning. By choosing your test, you can select one that resonates deeply. Start with candid self-examination. Determine your vulnerabilities. Pick one. Set your first goal. Visualize the new person you’ll be when you achieve it.
  • You can get G-d’s help. You won't live a carefree life. So you can sit back and let the Almighty decide on the trials you’ll face. Or, you can initiate your own personal development. When you do, G-d will support you. Not by making the experience pain-free. But by guaranteeing it will be worthwhile.

You may need a better job. Your marriage may require renovation. You may have developed unhealthy habits. You hope your life will get better. But, these conditions will only get worse. Choose to face the storm winds on your own terms. At times life is painful. Be intentional about adversity. The more time you spend with it the sooner it will become your best friend.

What keeps you from confronting challenges? 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!

How to Ensure People Are Tolerant of You

On duty with the navy a couple of weeks ago, the new senior chaplain made it a point to choose a kosher restaurant for lunch. It was a fine gesture. Would that the Chaplain Corps let me be tolerant of Christain practices in return.

How to Ensure People Are Tolerant of You Image from iStockPhoto.com

While stationed in Okinawa, all of the 50 or so chaplains there got together quarterly for training. As you might expect we began with a prayer. One day, a young Christian chaplain, who was new to the island, was asked to lead it. He proceeded uneventfully until the end when he said, “in Jesus's name we pray.”

Instantly every eye was on me. For a moment it felt like they thought my head was going to explode!

And the young chaplain was mortified.

In an effort to defuse the situation I said, “it’s okay, he was one of ours first.” Peals of laughter.

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Perhaps I should have been offended that he prayed in a Christian idiom with me there. But though he did so on purpose, there was no malicious intent. As the 1% minority, it seems to me intolerant that I dictate the form of prayer. Rather, I applaud the chaplain’s authenticity.

To Be Tolerant, Let Others Be Different

Tolerance is not forcing others to homogenize their expressions to be inoffensive to me. It is my being secure enough in myself to see or hear things with which I disagree or that may make me uncomfortable.

Any other definition puts my self-esteem in some else’s hands and deprives me of the opportunity to more deeply connect with others. In a pluralistic society, it's of paramount importance to be tolerant. First, you must understand what it really is. Then you must practice it.

What do you think of my definition of tolerance?

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The Secret to Seeing the True You

Watching my daughter grow up provides an endless source of lessons. One of the most startling is how her self-perception differs from how I see her. Sometimes it seems we are talking about two different people. On the one hand, I want her to have a healthy self-image and not be swayed by the perceptions of others. Yet at the same time, we all benefit from understanding how others perceive us. This led me to a question: When you want to see the true you into whose mirror do you look?

The Secret to Seeing the True You

If you have been to a house of mirrors then you know what I mean. One makes you look taller and thinner, another shorter and fatter, and yet another essentially diamond shaped. With physical image, you can go home and look in a regular mirror and see your actual appearance. But when it comes to such things as emotional soundness, intellect, character traits, and core values gaining a clear perspective is more problematic.

On one end is the person who only looks in his own mirror and refuses to see his reflection in how others perceive him. Consumed by a mental and spiritual narcissism, at its extreme is the sociopath who is so dismissive of others he sees them as his prey.

On the other end is the person who only sees himself through the eyes of others, legitimizing everyone’s views, whether good or bad. Adrift on a turbulent sea, too often such a state leads to tragedy. Judy Garland comes to mind – consummately talented but unable to see herself in any light other than that reflected by her family, friends, business associates, and public. If they adored her she esteemed herself. But criticism filled her with self-loathing.

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Best is to have multiple mirrors so that you can guide and repair your self-perception. When you have had a particularly difficult day, it can be hard to maintain a positive perspective. Connecting with people in your life who reflect a positive image of the true you will help you mend. Likewise, when you need an ego check friends who do not overlook your faults can help you.

Here you can see how the building blocks of the Mental Pillar of Fitness work together. Social engagement buoys emotional soundness. Healthy, balanced self-perception is such a crucial component of living intentionally this holiday season shine up some of your mirrors.

Please take just a minute to share one thing you do to maintain a truthful self-image…

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