Tag Archives: God

How to Deal with Disrespectful Civilians

Do You Distinguish Direct from Offensive Communication?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bo – Exodus 10:1-13:16

Over the last decade, I’ve noticed a softening in the military. You don’t hear as much shouting. Repetitive “training” has replaced verbal correction. Special Forces still train tough. But regular units’ training has become more like what you see in the civilian world. Frustration has to be expressed gently…

How to Deal with Disrespectful Civilians

The Purpose of Being Offensive

Its more direct style of communication makes military life seems tougher. But the days of offending someone to test his mettle are long gone. Likewise, G-d rarely permits insulting behavior. One of the few cases, in Parshas Bo, has a special purpose:

…on the 10th of this month, they will take for themselves, each man, a lamb or a kid for the household… (Shemos/Exodus 12:3)

Prior to bringing the tenth plague, the Almighty commanded Moses to have each Israelite household prepare a sacrifice. Like all offerings, it had to be free from blemishes for the four days before its slaughter.

Usually, the purchaser of an animal could rely on the seller to examine it. But the owner of this offering, known as the Pesach or paschal lamb, had to tie it to his bed beginning on the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Each householder inspected his own animal.

The Egyptians worshipped lambs and kids. So it aroused their curiosity seeing the Israelites tie their gods to a bed. When they asked for a reason, the Jews told them they would sacrifice the animals on the 14th of Nissan. Outrageous declared the Egyptians!

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But because the Almighty protected the Israelites, they couldn’t harm them.

Let G-d Teach the Lessons

You might think G-d wanted to exalt the Israelites by letting them sacrifice Egypt’s gods. In reality, He wanted Egypt to learn they worshipped false gods. If their slaves could slaughter lambs and kids with impunity, these animals had no power.

Simon and Levi killed the hated Shemites. Shechem had raped Dinah. He was liable to harsh punishment. But neither he nor his people denied G-d like Pharaoh did. So a death sentence on all of the people was wrong.

Pinchas killed Cozbi and his mistress for enticing the Israelites to worship the Ba’al. The Almighty rewarded him for sustaining His honor.

Aspects of civilian life may offend you. A civilian may push your buttons. But people don't do this with the intent of denying G-d. There’s no cause for offending them. When the urge to scold them strikes consider: Are you defending the Almighty’s honor or yourself…

How do you keep your cool when civilians do stupid things?

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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 Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Have You Reached the Moment of Truth?

2 minutes to read

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

Back on active duty, I get those annoying emails. The training officer sends reminders of some online course that we have to complete. Again. The Navy means well. It wants us to know how to handle an active shooter and records with PII. But having done the exact same training for years makes it just a check in the box. You can tell what counts with the Navy because it has the rigor that leads to change…

How to Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Make an Affirmative Decision to Confront Change

During Officer Indoctrination School we crawled through sand with broken glass in it. Rubbing sand in cuts thoroughly drives a lesson home. I hope I never have to scrabble on the ground while someone is shooting at me. But I’ll remember to keep my backside down. Parshas Shemos describes a bigger lesson in change:

“Moses said, ‘I will turn from my course and see this great sight - why does the bush not burn?’” (Shemos/Exodus 3:3)

Moses encountered a bush that was on fire but didn't burn up. He knew from the moment he spotted the bush that something supernatural was at work. He had two choices: engage with the phenomenon or move on. If he got involved with the bush he knew his life would never be the same. G-d saw Moses’s deep conflict. He could stay the course and continue a life of ease. Stopping meant committing to the struggle leading to change.

The Almighty found tremendous merit in Moses’s desire to change. So He called out, “Moses, Moses.” And Moses began his rise to leadership of the Israelites.

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Moses chose to stop and confront his fear of the unknown. G-d understood Moses’s gut-wrenching choice to live a demanding life. Such courage made him worthy to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery.

Your Real Transition Begins with a Moment of Truth

Under any circumstances, change is a daunting process. It's hardest when you don't expect it. As right as my decision was to leave active duty, I felt unsettled. Even though I had prepared, I knew hard times were ahead. I wasn’t disappointed. But the struggle was worth it.

More preparation time helps. Servicemembers who start their transition 18 to 24 months before leaving active duty have the smoothest time.

But there will come the moment when you’ll feel a lump in your throat. At that moment, your faith can compel you to begin the journey despite your apprehension. You may not yet see the miracle that will forge a better you. G-d may not show you a burning bush. But He will find great merit in your willingness to confront new challenges.

Let the rigor of adjusting to civilian life help you make the necessary changes.

Do you regret leaving the military or think you might regret it?

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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 Make a Safer Transition by Taking Risks

Are You Ready to Do What You Haven’t Done Before?

2-½ minutes to read

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

Even if transition assistance programs did their job, your reintegration into civilian life won't be smooth. You have things to learn. Much can't be taught in a classroom. Other aspects take time. Revising your identity and adapting to how our fellow citizens think doesn’t happen overnight. Civilian life makes another big demand…

How to Make a Safer Transition by Taking Risks

Accept You’ll Have a Bumpy Transition

You know the road to reintegration will have some bumps. You made sacrifices in the military. Civilian life has hard choices too. You’ll still face the tradeoff between time with your family and professional advancement.

Though well on in years, Jacob had to start a new life. In Parshas Mikeitz he faced a gut-wrenching decision:

“Take your brother, arise, and return to the man.”(Beresheis/Genesis 43:13)

A famine in Canaan was so bad Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy food. There, they met their brother Joseph, who had become Viceroy of Egypt. But they didn’t recognize him. Joseph knew he had to fulfill the prophecy that his brothers would bow down to him. So Joseph demanded they bring their other brother Benjamin to Egypt.

When the brothers returned to their father they told him about the Viceroy’s demand. Not knowing Joseph was the Viceroy, Jacob wouldn’t consent. But soon he’d be out of food again.

Jacob didn't want to let go of his youngest son. He still adored his deceased wife, Rachel. With Joseph gone, Benjamin was the only child of his beloved wife. A stark choice stood before him. Allow his family to starve. Or let go of his precious Benjamin with no guarantee he’d see him again.

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Transitions demand operating outside of your comfort zone. Jacob put his faith in G-d. He took the risk. In doing so, he set in motion events that would raise his family to eminence.

Gaining Satisfaction Requires Taking Risks

What do you want from civilian life? Does a quiet existence after the rigors of the military sound good? Or do you crave a greater level of success than you’ve had so far? No matter which path you choose, you’ll face difficult decisions.

Your plans may include a modest private sector job. Or you may aim for entrepreneurial greatness. Either way, you want something you haven’t had before. So you’ll have to do something you’ve haven’t done before. You may have to give up a part of yourself you hold dear. You may have to break through barriers to creating new professional relationships.

When an unappealing job seems like the safest option, consider whether you can hang on after six or twelve months doing work you hate. If you avoid confronting your current limitations, you're choosing not to succeed.

Jacob faced enormous hurdles during his life. Some he handled well, other less so. That he let Benjamin go shows he remained willing to face the reality of life. You’ll have to take a risk or two to get something you haven’t had before.

Settling isn't risk-free. It only postpones the day of reckoning. Commit to shouldering the new demands civilian life places on you. And keep the faith.

Question – What unreasonable demand has civilian life placed on you?

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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!

Has Searching for Employment Made You Angry?

How to Stay Calm Throughout Your Job-Hunt

2-½ minutes to read

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

No one I’ve met has had a hassle-free transition. Plans fall apart. People who said they’d help don't come through. Sometimes even the simplest task seems impossible to complete. You start to feel abused. Irritation soars. Some veterans redline. Unable to tough it out any longer, they explode…

How to Stay Calm Throughout Your Job-Hunt

When Frustration Boils Over

People can appreciate the frustration that comes from transitioning to civilian life. Whereas, they may not know the specific issues you face. They’ve been vexed by their own. But Parshas Vayishlach shows they’re less likely to forgive an angry outburst:

“And they [Simeon and Levi] said, ‘Should he treat our sister like a harlot?’” (Bereshis/Genesis 34:31)

Shechem abducted and raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Then he begged Jacob to marry her. Jacob agreed on the condition that all the men of the city get circumcised. Debilitated by the operation, Simeon and Levi took revenge by killing them.

On learning of the massacre, Jacob pointed out the danger they put the family in. The brothers responded that they had to defend their sister’s honor.

Jacob withheld further comment on the matter until close to death. When he finally took them to task, he criticized their anger. He may not have liked their actions. But he recognized their justice. As a legacy, Jacob wanted his sons to learn that situations charged with emotion must be handled calmly.

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Blowing up can delegitimize even the most righteous act.

5 Steps to Keeping Your Cool

Have you ever lost your temper and missed an opportunity as a result? If so, you know that raises your frustration level. But keeping your cool isn't easy. Preparing for setbacks and practicing mindfulness can help. Still, you need to have a plan for when an explosion is imminent:

1. Triggers. Identify issues or events that shoot your anger through the roof. The more specific you get the better.

2. Record. Summarize these triggers on a 3 x 5 card or in a memo on your smartphone. Order them from the most difficult to the easiest to control.

3. Frame. At the top of the card or memo write “I will be calm when…”

4. Practice. Each morning read your card or memo. Stand. Put conviction in your voice. Make a commitment. Repeat this during the day before any event where your patience may be challenged.

5. Assess. At the end of the day, read your card or memo again. This time, begin with, “I was calm when…” and list the triggers you controlled. For the ones that got away from you, say, “Tomorrow I will improve by remaining calm when…”

This process may seem a little silly at first. But you have to indoctrinate yourself to change your behavior. By following the same kind of training regimen your service branch used to make you a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman, you’re using a process that works.

We want nothing to do with people who are angry at the military. Like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we should pity them. In truth, we can't expect the same from civilians. They shut down when we get angry with them. Keep communication open by ensuring you keep your cool.

Has getting angry caused you to lose out on 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. Its name comes from 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 Get Trapped Doing Work You Hate

Do You Think You Deserve a Great Job?

2-½ minutes to read

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

You never have to negotiate your military salary. For that matter, all the terms of employment are set. In the private sector, almost everything is open for discussion. Many veterans get fooled into thinking if they get a great compensation package, civilian life will be outstanding. Others take the first job offered them out of desperation. Then reality hits…

 How to Get Trapped by Work You Hate

Employers Will Entice You

The “if they pay me enough I can put up with anything” attitude is seductive. Even the wisest people have taken the first job offered them. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Jacob falls into this trap:

“And he [Laban] said, specify your wage to me and I will give it.” (Beresheis/Genesis 30:28)

After working seven years so he could marry Rachel, Jacob found Laban had tricked him. The morning after his wedding he woke up with Leah. Still hopelessly in love with Rachel, he agreed to work another seven years to earn her. You would think that would have been all the proof he needed to leave his father-in-law’s employ.

But when Laban told Jacob to name his price, he took the bait. The next six years required constant vigilance so he didn't get cheated. Finally, he couldn’t take any more. He gathered up his wives and children and fled.

Continuing to work for Laban may have seemed like the smart or easy play. Why take the risk of having to find another employer or going out on his own? Maybe his wives pressured him. After all, what could be more secure than having their husband work for daddy?

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But after 20 years, Jacob had had it. And when Laban confronted him, he exploded with indignation.

Rationalizing Taking a Crummy Job

Let’s be honest, money can buy happiness. Or at least you can get enough stuff so you overlook being miserable. But money can't buy a sense of purpose, mission, or fulfillment. If your job pays well but offers nothing else, you’re in a test of wills with your employer. How much will you put up with before you can’t stand another minute and quit?

Taking the first post-military job offered may seem like the right move. But half of veterans quit their job during the first year. They feel no sense of mission, especially compared to the military. Is it any wonder they hate what they’re doing?

Do you still have lots of time before you leave active duty? Are you struggling after leaving your first civilian job? Or are you somewhere between? The stage of your transition doesn't matter.

Consider…

  1. How important is finding meaningful employment?
  2. What kind of work fits with your revised purpose and mission as you enter the private sector?
  3. How do your answers to the first two questions impact your thinking about compensation?

If decide to maximize your income at the expense of meaning:

  1. How much will you need to earn to put up with the drudgery and maltreatment?

Jacob thought he had good reasons for working for Laban. It’s true he got to marry the woman he adored. But he never had a good relationship with Leah. Numerous stories attest to the contentiousness of his later life. Jacob had to learn how to outwit Laban instead of engaging in more satisfying pursuits.

You don't need to work for an unscrupulous employer doing mind-numbing work. Take the time to think through your responses to these four questions. Have the patience to figure out your Unique Value Proposition that will lead you to a job you love.

Are you doing work you hate for a supervisor who’s a jerk?

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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. Its name comes from 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!

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