Tag Archives: kindness

Are You Shy About Promoting Your Accomplishments?

How to Make Self-Marketing Godly

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tzav – Leviticus 6:1-8:36

The military knows how to build morale. You may have encountered a bad leader. But most follow Parshas Tzav's advice on reward and punishment:

“If for a thanksgiving offering he will offer it, with the sacrifice of the thanksgiving offering he will offer unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil; and scalded fine flour mixed with oil. Along with loaves of leavened bread…” (Vayikra/Leviticus 7:12-13)

Are You Shy About Promoting Your Accomplishments

This Sabbath’s parsha continues the discussion of the korbanos (Temple offerings). Then it details the anointing of Aaron and his sons as the Kohanim (Priests) who will serve in the Temple.

Your Public and Private Life

When a sailor lived through a hurricane he brought a thanksgiving offering. A captive who escaped imprisonment did too. Anyone surviving perilous circumstances could express gratitude to the Almighty with this offering.

Along with the animal, a person brought 40 loaves of bread. They comprised ten each of the four varieties mentioned above.  The Kohen handling the offering received one of each kind. The other 36 went to the person who brought it.

All had to be eaten that day or by the following night. The short time ensured the bread would get shared with others. When you received a loaf, you learned about your friend’s good fortune. Soon it became general knowledge in the community.

Juxtapose this to the sin offering. You didn’t bring any loaves. So news about your mistakes didn’t spread.

Share your joy at receiving G-d’s blessing and you’ll improve people’s moods. They’ll see an example of where faith, hope, and perseverance pay off.  True friends feel joy and gratitude for your success. These feelings enhance their wellbeing.

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By contrast, avoid publicizing your challenges and difficulties. Keep them among those who will give you genuine support and sympathy. Public emoting of problems, so common today, makes people pessimistic. Or they may gloat at your misfortune. Neither benefits you or them.

Don't be Shy About Accomplishments

The military didn’t always recognize the difference between public and private spheres. Until at least the mid 19th century, units mustered to witness punishment. Flogging through the fleet publicized the heinousness of certain crimes like mutiny.

Today’s military leaders know to praise in public and rebuke in private. They award medals in front of your whole unit. Family and friends hear a tribute to your exemplary deeds. Your colleagues get motivated to keep striving.

Reprimands take place in confidential proceedings. Article 15, office hours, and captain’s mast happen behind closed doors. While others may hear about them, no one publicizes results. The public can attend a court martial. But only in the most notorious cases is punishment disclosed.

The same principle applies throughout your life. In public, praise and show gratitude to your spouse. In front of others, commend your child for accomplishments reaped through hard work. When something negative occurs, deal with the issue in private. No matter how right you were, if you rebuked them in public apologize.

Treat yourself the same way. Publicize your accomplishments. Emphasize the good parts of your military service. Show how your responsibility grew during your career. But don’t volunteer negative aspects to a potential employer.

If confronted with a question about mistakes you’ve made, frame them as lessons learned. That way you show the kind of growth mindset most employers value.

The Creator wants your good fortune to motivate others to connect with Him. In contrast, punishment is His one-on-one way of inspiring better future performance. Hence why He had people publicize thanksgiving offerings and keep sin offerings private. Model these practices all through your life.

Question – Is it dishonest to publicize only the good things that happened to you or that you’ve done?

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. 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 Be Genuine in Any Situation

The Reason You Must Give Your Heart

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayakhel/Pekudei – Exodus 35:1-40:38

Job-hunting after military service sometimes feels like entering a foreign country. Doesn’t it? The differences in language and life experience make communicating difficult. Veterans and civilians struggle to bridge the gap. Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei will help you be genuine while creating links:

“Everyone who is generous-hearted, will bring it, a portion for G-d.” (Shemos/Exodus 35:5)

How to Be Genuine in Any Situation

This Sabbath is a double parsha to keep on track with the annual cycle. Vayakhel reviews the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). You see the only time in Jewish history that a building campaign raised so much money people had to stop giving!

Pekudei details Moses’s accounting of those donations. Then it explains how he set up the Mishkan. You might have thought that as the leader Moses would tell others to do it. But when G-d gives someone a job it becomes that person’s responsibility. No one should feel he’s beneath anything that serves our Creator.

Get Out of Your Head and Be Genuine

G-d told the Israelites to give contributions for the building of the Mishkan. But why do they have to bring their hearts? Isn’t it enough to give the gold, silver, and other materials?

Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm says we need to give more than mere money. The Almighty wants us to invest emotion and spirit when giving. Open your heart by smiling at the recipient. Recognize him as an individual. Ask her about her experiences. By doing so you transform a simple monetary transaction into a holy act. As well, you mold your self-image into that of a useful person.

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People used to call being in the military being in the service. You were a service member. In this respect civilian and military life mirror one another. The quality of your life comes in large part from serving others. This ethos requires genuine connection with fellow citizens.

Charity Isn’t Only Money

These days charity refers to an organization that raises money to help less fortunate people. Or it’s the actual money donated and distributed.

But charity also used to mean the way you treated someone. Kindness and tolerance marked the behavior of a charitable person. No money changed hands. Rather minds and hearts connected in true understanding.

Recently, Jewish Friends of the American Military asked me to speak on their behalf. Few of the 60 people attending had any link to military life. Sea stories fascinated them. During Q&A, people wanted to know how they could support service members beyond donating to JFAM.

The answer came straight from this week’s parsha. I told them, “We’re very fortunate to live during a time when our fellow citizens thank us for our service. But for some veterans, the gratitude doesn't seem authentic. So before offering your thanks, take a couple of minutes to ask a veteran about his experience. Get to know her a bit. By connecting first, your gratitude will feel genuine.”

Whether giving money or meeting to discuss a job, bring your heart. The links you create will yield more than a short-term benefit. You’ll build the foundation to authentic, life-long relationships.

Question – If you feel you cannot invest your heart when giving to someone should you not do so?

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. 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 Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

An Easy Way to Continue Your Legacy of Service

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tetzaveh - Exodus 27:20-30:10

Recently I flew on Alaska Airlines. It’s military friendly. You don’t pay baggage fees. Sometimes you can board with the first class passengers. And, you get the obligatory thanks for your service. The gate agent didn’t sound sincere. But, Parsha Tetzaveh explains why I accepted his thanks anyway:

“And you will command the Children of Israel and they will take for you olive oil, clear, crushed for illumination; to light a lamp continually.” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

This Sabbath’s parsha begins by explaining the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid, the lamp that must always stay lit. Then it describes how to make and use the garments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim. Next, it goes over the mitzvah of the korban tamid or continual offering. It ends with how to build and use the incense altar, the Holy of Holies.

G-d Let’s Us Pay Our Debt

G-d groups the Ner Tamid with other offerings. So the Almighty must intend it as an offering of light to Him. But why does the Creator need light, even at night?

In fact, G-d doesn’t need light. But think about a sighted person who helps a blind person get home. Even though the blind person doesn’t need light, the sighted person asks him to light a lamp. He says, “Please do this so you won’t have to feel indebted to me for what I have done for you. Now you have done me a favor.” The Creator gave us light. He could have let us feel indebted every minute of daylight. Instead, He asked us to provide eternal light for Him.

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Unfortunately, sometimes people resent your doing something nice for them. They feel indebted or guilty. True kindness entails giving and receiving with no ulterior motive or expectation of anything in return. But rather than risk bad feelings, it’s better to let people “pay” you back.

Think Connect When a Civilian Thanks You

Some of the veterans I speak with resent civilians who thanks them for their service. They feel such words are insincere. They’d prefer people said nothing.

You may not have joined the military solely to serve. Educational or other benefits may have motivated you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Congress, on behalf of the American people, made them part of our compensation. Still, many of our fellow citizens feel a personal obligation toward veterans.

They know you did things they did not or could not do. Receiving a person’s gratitude allows him to discharge that debt. His words may not sound genuine to you. It would be better if a civilian said thanks in a way that sounded sincere. Even so, kindness requires accepting his appreciation.

Ideally, civilians should be content to let you serve for your personal reasons. They shouldn’t burden you with expressions of gratitude that don’t ring true. Allowing your fellow citizens to get rid of feeling indebted or guilty may make your transition harder. As a service member, you went the extra mile. Do it again. Connect with people in civilian life by accepting their thanks.

Question – Does it bother you when people thank you for your service?

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. 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!

What You Need to Do to Get God on Your Side

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chukas – Numbers 19:1-22:1

Have you seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? I took my family to see it last week. Based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this study in parenting will open your eyes. I think Dahl borrowed a lesson from this week’s parsha, Chukas for the final scene:

Do not fear him [Og, King of Bashan] for into your hand I give him and all his people and his land; and you will do to him like that you did to Sichon king of the Emorites who dwells in Chesbon. (Numbers/Bamidbar 21:34)

What You Need to Do to Get God on Your Side

This Sabbath’s parsha discusses the mysterious commandment of the red hefer. Then Miriam dies, resulting in the well of water stopping. Moses and Aaron err when supplying water to the people and G-d punishes them. Next Aaron dies. It ends with the Amalekites attacking leading to the wars with Sihon and Og.

Building a Balance in Your Spiritual Account

Moses was the greatest prophet who ever lived. So would it surprise you that he experienced a lack of faith in this week’s parsha? Moses redeemed the Children of Israel from Egypt, the most powerful nation of its day. But he feared Og. Why else would G-d reassure him? He must have lost faith.

Often there are backstories to events in the Torah. They explain unusual behavior. Moses was afraid of Og. But his faith was intact.

Og, or perhaps one of his ancestors, escaped from the war of the kings. He informed Abraham that King Chedarlaomer had taken his nephew Lot captive. This long ago act of kindness concerned Moses. He knew even a small balance in Og’s spiritual account weighed in his favor. Moses feared the Almighty would protect Og. When you rescue one of His children, G-d is on your side. So Moses had reason to worry.

Action Not Motives Count

It turns out Og had a selfish motive. He hoped that by telling Abraham of Lot’s capture Abraham would attack King Chedarlaomer and get killed. Og could then marry Sarah who he greatly coveted for her beauty. (This justifies Abraham’s concern about being killed because his wife was so stunning.)

Despite Og’s tainted motive Moses worried that one act to his spiritual credit would protect him. So G-d reassured him.

See the power of an act of kindness? Og’s long ago, small, badly motivated act had the potential to protect him. Moses knew this and was afraid. If Moses had lacked faith, G-d would have punished him. The Almighty did so earlier in the parsha. He decreed Moses would not enter the Promised Land for showing a lack of faith when providing water to the Israelites.

You will never know why the Almighty protects you from harm. But even a tiny rescue helps. Don’t worry about always being completely selfless. G-d will be in your side. Build up credits in your spiritual account. Be intentional about helping your family, friends, and other people.

What’s the most recent kind thing you did? 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!

If You’re Wise You’ll Be Inconsistent

Recently I read Stephen Asma’s book Against Fairness. Intrigued by the title, I hoped to get some ideas for explaining to my seven-year-old why life is not fair. While this need went unsatisfied, it caused me ponder the nature of fairness and how it relates to wisdom.

If You’re Wise You’ll Be Inconsistent

Fairness seems to be part of the American character. But as Asma points out, other cultures, in particular, many in Asia, favor family ties above all. Abandoning nepotism in favor of a stranger is shameful.

But if we dig below the surface, fairness flies in the face of another cherished American societal value: individualism.

The rabbi of my community is admired by all as a wise, humane man. Beset by requests for guidance, he could spend 25 hours a day dispensing advice. While under his tutelage, one day I questioned him about a particular issue in the Jewish dietary laws. His answer astounded me. He told me it depended on several factors:

  1. Who is asking the question? Specifically, where on life’s journey was the person? How extensive were her knowledge and expertise?
  2. To what spiritual level is the person aspiring? Is the person seeking to stretch herself and increase her level of observance?
  3. What day of the week and time of day was it? Was it late on a Friday close to the start of the Sabbath?

There were others but you get the idea.

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This seemed consummately unfair. Essentially, as an aspiring rabbi, I would get a strict answer but someone less knowledgeable would be treated more leniently. The rules should be the rules. Of course, if everyone got the same answer, why do you need to speak to a human? A computer would be much more efficient and fair.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Each person is unique. So any question requires the context of that person’s specific situation in order to come up with the right answer. Similar to doing an act of kindness, insight into a person’s character and circumstances are necessary to find the proper solution to his challenges.

Such is the nature of wisdom. It requires knowledge and experience, but most importantly good judgment.

Inevitably, from the outside, it will appear inconsistent since when two people have the same issue, the solutions will in all likelihood be different.

I suspect you want to be dealt with in the context of your own life challenges, not those of society or other people. Not only is such a desire reasonable, it is the only way to support a realistic path of personal growth.

Would you rather be treated by a societal standard of fairness or as an individual

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

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