Tag Archives: Tanach

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 Break Through Your Barrier to a High-Paying Job

Is Fear Preventing You from Maximizing Your Value?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

Many veterans have told me they don’t care about making a lot of money. They just want to get by. Does this describe your perspective on wealth? It has a sense of humility about it. But is it coming from a humble place? Or are you secretly afraid you don’t have what it takes to get a high-paying job? G-d’s interaction with Moses in Parshas Terumah shows how to break through to the path to service and success:

“Speak to the Children of Israel, and they will take for Me a portion…” (Shemos/Exodus 25:22)

How to Break Through Your Barrier to a High-Paying Job

This Sabbath’s parsha details the plans for the Mishkan or portable Sanctuary. G-d rested His Presence there during the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness. Such ordinary materials as copper, linen, and goatskins are turned into a holy abode.

You Can’t Give What Someone Else Owns

G-d uses a strange word when He commands Moses to ask the Israelites to donate the materials for building the Tabernacle. Usually, when contributing money to construct a building, donors say they gave money to build it. But you can’t give anything to G-d. All creation belongs to Him already.

So it makes no sense for the Almighty to tell the Israelites to give donations for the Tabernacle. But telling them to take donations makes no sense either. Only someone embezzling the donations would say he was taking them.

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It turns out when the Almighty says, “take for Me” He means, “from what I have given you to use, separate a gift in my name.”

Break Through to Take Your Money With You

So you don’t actually own your money. It’s not a part of you. You only have use of it for your limited time in this world. As a result, some people decide to spend their money indiscriminately. Or, they use it to indulge in hedonistic pleasures. But because some people abuse wealth doesn’t mean you will. So don’t avoid maximizing the value of your skills, knowledge, and experience.

While you don’t own your wealth, the Almighty expects you to use it wisely. How?

The Tabernacle teaches money transforms into an eternal possession when you use it for a holy purpose. Support your family. Develop your resilience and character. Donate it to charity. Use the prosperity that the Almighty gives you toward His cherished goal. When you take care of His children, you improve the only thing you’ll take into eternity: Your relationships with G-d.

Like money, your skills, knowledge, and experiences all become worthless when you die. But you can use them to build value in other people’s lives. Then they become tools for building the eternal possession of a close relationship with the Creator.

When someone tells you service to others is the path to success, they’re describing this very idea. It’s built into military life. That’s why years ago people said you joined the service. You were a service member, not a military member.

Make service your goal in civilian life. Note that getting paid well doesn’t conflict with helping others. People need better goods and services. They need new ways of understanding the complexity of modern life. Use your skills, knowledge, and experience to better their lives. Break through the fear you can't or shouldn't have a high-paying job. Then you’ll have plenty of money to take for G-d as you build an eternal possession.

Question – How does it make you feel to give money to charity?

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.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here 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!

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!

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