Category Archives: Relationships

Key to Good Relationships: Sleep

How important is your family and work life? I’m willing to bet it’s a top priority for you. Would you say your spouse and children are more important to you than passengers are to an airline pilot? There’s no FFA – Federal Family Administration, but take a look at this.

Key to Good Relationships: Sleep

While visiting one of my squadrons not long ago I saw the following notice posted at a chief petty officer’s desk:


is an expected and ubiquitous aspect

of life.

For the average individual, fatigue presents a minor inconvenience, resolved with a nap or by stopping whatever activity brought it on. Typically there are no significant consequences. However, if that person is involved with safety-related activities such as operating a motor vehicle, piloting an aircraft, performing surgery, or running a nuclear reactor, the consequences of fatigue can be disastrous.


Notice the author? The Federal Aviation Administration. This notice comes from a pamphlet on fatigue, one of the best pieces I’ve read on the need for adequate rest.

Notice something strange about the notice? The second half of the warning contradicts the first part. Operating a motor vehicle while fatigued “can be disastrous” but for the average individual fatigue “is a minor inconvenience.” How often does a day go by when you don’t drive your car?

Contained in the pamphlet is another important warning stating any fatigued person will exhibit the same problems including apathy, feeling of isolation, annoyance, slowing of higher-level mental functioning, and memory problems. Think about the last disagreement you had with your spouse or child. Were any of these at least partially the cause? It seems to me for the average person fatigue presents a significant problem that can create long-term damage to physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

Among the FAA’s recommendations to stay properly rested are:

Don’t . . .

  • Consume alcohol or caffeine 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  • Eat a heavy meal just before bedtime.
  • Take work to bed.
  • Exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime. While working out promotes a healthy lifestyle, it shouldn’t be done too close to bedtime
  • Use sleeping pills (prescription or otherwise).

Do . . .

  • Consult a physician to diagnose and treat any medical conditions causing sleep problems.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment at home. Adjust heating and cooling as needed. Get a comfortable mattress.
  • When traveling, select hotels that provide a comfortable environment.
  • Get into the habit of sleeping eight hours per night. When needed, and if possible, nap during the day, but limit the nap to 30 minutes or less. Longer naps produce sleep inertia, which is counterproductive.
  • Try to turn in the same time each day. This establishes a routine and helps you fall asleep more quickly.
  • If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, get up and try an activity that helps induce sleep (read, listen to relaxing music, etc.)

You cannot avoid the challenges that life throws at you and your family, but you can get enough sleep to deal with them more effectively.

Sleep well!

How important to you is sleeping well? Please comment below.

One Way to Know the Quality of Your Relationships

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Nasso – Numbers 4:21-7:79

I think most men gave up wearing ties in order to force their children to be more creative when selecting a gift. But isn’t it supposed to be the feeling that counts? Maybe, but after the fifth or sixth one you think they’d choose something, anything, else. This week’s parsha, Nasso, suggests maybe not:

And his offering: one silver bowl of one hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver sprinkling basin of 70 shekels according to the holy shekel, both filled with fine flower mixed with oil for a meal offering. One spoon of ten gold [shekels] filled with incense. One young bull, one ram, and one lamb in it first year for a burnt offering. A goat for a sin offering. And for a peace offering: two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs in their first year. . . (Numbers/Bamidbar 7:13-17)

 One Way to Know the Quality of Your Relationships

In this Sabbath’s parsha, the Levites are counted and assigned their responsibilities for transporting the Tabernacle, the procedures for a Sotah and Nazir are described, the Priestly Blessing is given, and the leaders of the twelve tribes bring their offerings to dedicate the Tabernacle.

Nasso is a long parsha. Almost half of it details the dedication gifts of each tribe. The description for each one matches the above verses. The only difference between the twelve gifts is the name of the tribal leader and the day he brought it. If G-d wanted to emphasize their equivalence, He could have described one of them and then noted each tribe brought the identical gift. Why repeat it twelve times?

Despite being physically indistinguishable, the Creator saw each tribe connected different meanings to their gifts. Think about your how you give presents. One week you might give your wife flowers meaning to say I'm sorry. A few weeks later the same kind of flowers might mean happy birthday or simply I love you.

Now, imagine if you had twelve children and they each gave you a birthday present that turned out to be identical. Which explanation to a friend would honor them better: “Oh my children all gave me the same gift,” or “my first child gave me a gift that meant this to me, my second child gave me a gift that meant this other thing to me,” and so on?

Being a gracious recipient means more than saying thank you. You need to take the time to understand the meaning behind a person’s gift. If you don’t like it, could the problem be the relationship is off track or not as close as it ought to be?

That the Almighty received each of the tribes’ gifts with equal favor shows how connected He was to His children.

Got a lot of funky ties in your closet? Perhaps it’s time to focus on your family.

What barometer do you use for tracking the quality of your relationships? 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!

Not Every Relationship is Meant to Be Long-Term

Earlier this week I came home to find my family had adopted another dog. I must preface this tale by acknowledging my wife’s deep compassion, especially for dogs and horses, a quality of which I have been the undeserving beneficiary many times. Now you might be thinking, “Hey what’s the big deal? So you got another dog. You love dogs Rabs.” All true. But would you acknowledge my entitlement to consternation if I tell you the dog laid his head on our dining room table . . . while still keeping all four feet firmly planted on the ground?

Not Every Relationship is Meant to Be Long-Term

Sergeant is a white German shepherd, weighing about 110 lbs., and standing 36 inches at the withers. The people looking to rid themselves of this wolf in dog’s clothing were something less than accurate in conveying this description to my wife prior to her agreeing to take him. Now a big dog in a small house can be fine, unless he has no training, dislikes the outdoors, and is generally afraid of his own shadow. Think bull in a china shop. We have the broken glass to prove it.

The only one in our home happy about this turn of events is our cat. Sergeant is so henpecked that Bordeaux, who weighs less than half what he does, had a blast chasing him and so left our cat in peace for a couple of days before getting frustrated with her unenthusiastic playmate and deciding her former live chew toy was more fun.

Despite all his drawbacks, I have to admit Sergeant is sweet. Indeed he thinks he’s a lap dog. And despite scaring me out of my wits when he tried to jump up on my bed to cuddle with me while I was asleep, his constant bumping into the furniture, shedding (I think he may be part pigeon because each day he molted enough hair to fill our vacuum cleaner, twice), and numerous other quirks, I like him.

When my wife told me she had found a place he could go where he would be assured of living out his natural life I felt bittersweet. It’s hard for me to resist a creature that only wants to feel safe and loved and is willing to give unqualified love in return.

But here’s the rub. Not every relationship can be close and lifelong. Sometimes the most you can do is provide a safe haven for a short time while someone finds someone else who can make a long-term commitment.

Like everything in life, you have to be intentional about the people with whom you’ll invest in creating a relationship. You cannot do so with every person you meet. But hopefully each person who enters your life benefits from knowing you even a short time. And likewise, you can benefit from them.

It took me two days to see beyond Sergeant’s faults and realize how endearing he is. Thanks buddy for imparting such a terrific lesson to me. G-d speed in your new home.

How do you decide in whom you will invest the effort to create a relationship? Please comment below.

How to Get Rid of Your Regrets

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Emor – Leviticus 21:1-24:23

Guilt and regret. It’s terrible to live with such feelings. Despite what seems to be Judaism’s fondness for imposing guilt, in reality the Creator provides several mechanisms for freeing yourself. One is in this week’s parsha, Emor:

“Upon the pure menorah, he will set up lamps, before G-d always . . . . And you shall place them [the loaves] in two stacks, six in each stack, upon the pure table before G-d.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 24:4 and 6)

If You Think This Way You’ll Fail

This Sabbath’s parsha details the standards of purity for a Kohen who serves in the Temple and the requirements of an animal for the sacrificial service. The Sabbath, Passover, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos are proclaimed as festivals. Next, it discusses the pure olive oil for the menorah and loaves of bread, known as the showbread, for the table. The parsha ends with the story of a man who blasphemed G-d's name.

The story of the blasphemer may seem out of place among such lofty topics as the purity of the Kohanim and sacrifices, the festivals, and the Temple implements. But the placement is no accident.

Emor is always read during the counting of the Omer, a time of semi-mourning, when 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva students died because they could not get along with each other.

Made of pure gold, the menorah and the table symbolize two areas where we should strive for clarity and purity: wisdom and business/daily dealings, respectively. By striving to reach a refined level we can repair past mistakes and deepen our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. So each day of the Omer count we mold an aspect of our character through every day behavior in accordance with G-d’s wisdom.

Juxtaposed to the menorah and table as symbols of exemplary behavior, the blasphemer typifies denial of G-d. If a person, heaven forbid, will curse the Creator, he demonstrates his belief in the superiority of his desires and decisions. Having set himself above the Almighty, he is unlikely to follow any societal norm or rule of behavior. No foundation exists for a relationship with such a person.

I’m sure you are very competent at work and deal with your associates nicely. And undoubtedly you never curse G-d. But what do you say about your colleagues when they’re not around? The Torah considers gossiping about people tantamount to murder. And you don’t know if such behavior so negatively affects how you’re perceived that it holds back your professional progress, let alone your emotional and spiritual growth. You may think your office relationships are solid. But if you dig below the surface will you find intrigue and unreliability?

As well, you harmonize with other people. Follow the shining examples of the Menorah and the Table, repudiating all aspects of the blasphemer, and repair not only the loss of so many of Rabbi Akiva’s students, but your own mistakes too. In doing so you’ll replace guilt and regret with a positive outlook and stronger relationships.

How do you rid yourself of guilt and regret for past mistakes? 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!

Do You Know How to Be Charitable? Really?

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Acharei Mos-Kedoshim – Leviticus 16:1-20:27

Setting goals for achieving my life’s purpose means finding concrete ways to address emotional or spiritual challenges. Improving my marriage is fine in the abstract. But my wife inhabits the physical world. So wishing or thinking about being a better husband doesn’t do her much good. This week’s parsha, Acharei MosKedoshim, deals with practical ways to pursue metaphysical ends:

“. . . and you will love your neighbor like yourself, I am the Lord.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18)

Do You Know How to Be Charitable? Really?

This Sabbath’s parsha is another double reading. Acharei Mos tells about the Yom Kippur service (from which comes the term “scapegoat”), the prohibition against eating blood, forbidden relationships, and the holiness of the Land of Israel.

Kedoshim gives a long list of mitzvahs (ways of creating a relationship with G-d) from religious to ethical: Respecting parents and elders, giving charity to the poor, being honest in business, observing the Sabbath, not dabbling in the occult, not taking revenge, and forbidden relationships.

Physical Expressions of Love → Not What You Think

Leading up to the famous verse quoted above are several ways you can love your neighbor as yourself. You can leave the corners and gleanings of your field or vineyard for the poor. You can refrain from robbing, make sure you pay your employees on time, and not intentionally hurt a handicapped person.

But for most of us are not farmers, criminals, or malicious. So the Torah seems to lack tangible ways to express our love for other people. What is the standard? If you have a nice car do you have to buy one for your neighbor? When you travel to wonderful places must you take your neighbor along? And if you don’t do these things, should you at least feel guilty that you’re better off than your neighbor?

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If you want to provide your neighbor with elaborate gifts you may. But you don't need to be so generous. In the physical realm, you ought to help people meet their basic needs, using 10% but no more than 20% of your income to do so. As important, take care of your neighbor's emotional and spiritual needs.

9 Ways to Build Enduring Relationships

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg, the Chief Rabbi of Koenigsburg, Germany during the early to mid-1800s (in his Torah commentary HaKsav V’HaKabbalah), gave a list of how you can love your neighbor as yourself:

  1. Express real, not feigned, affection for others
  2. Always treat others with respect
  3. Always seek the best for others
  4. Be more than empathic, join in other people’s pain
  5. Greet people with friendliness
  6. Give people the benefit of the doubt
  7. Assist others physically
  8. Be ready to help people with a small loan or gift
  9. Do not consider yourself better than other people

If you look at this list I suspect it reflects the way you want to be treated by others. The difference between military and civilian life is highlighted by no. 5. We must offer the greeting of the day to anyone senior to us, who then must greet us back. This small gesture, almost always done in a friendly way, makes military life more pleasant. Which of these behaviors can you habituate to demonstrate daily respect for your neighbor?

How else can you love your neighbor as yourself?

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!

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