Category Archives: Soul

Where to Find Comfort from Money Worries

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

When a financial setback, sickness, or death make life unbearable, where can you go to find comfort? In the case of the last two, you probably look to your family. But when you fail to bring home the bacon, often it is hard to face your spouse and children. You feel you’ve let them down. Parshas Vayeitzei identifies your place of solace:

“And he [Jacob] encountered the place . . .” (Bereshis/Genesis 28:11).

Where to Find Comfort from Money Worries

In this Sabbath’s parsha Jacob flees to Laban’s house, encountering G-d on the way. Jacob meets Rachel and agrees to work seven years so he can marry her. Unwittingly he marries Leah, then agrees to work another seven years so he can marry Rachel.

Jacob and his wives have eleven sons and a daughter. Jacob makes a new work contract with Laban but eventually the discord between them becomes so great Jacob flees with his household. The parsha ends with the curious incident of Laban’s gods.

Is Money Earthly or Heavenly?

Most people recognize life and death are spiritual matters. And since sickness may cause death, it too falls into the spiritual category. But money is the essence of the physical world. Right?

Consider: In heaven, there is no death. It exists only because we inhabit a physical world. Our souls exist in heaven. But without the counterpoint of death to distinguish it, life has no meaning there.

But your deeds exist in both this world and heaven. G-d is intensely interested in how you behave and treat His creation, especially other people. As a factor in your actions, money impacts Earth and heaven.

The Place of Comfort

In the above verse, the Hebrew word for place is makom. Not coincidentally, G-d is called Hamakom, literally, “the Place.” Jacob encounters both a location and the Almighty. Each name by which G-d is known expresses an attribute. In this case, Hamakom denotes His involvement with tragedy.

When comforting a mourner, we say, “Hamakom y’nacheim eschem,” literally, “May the Place comfort you.” Likewise, we encourage a sick person by saying, “Hamakom y’racheim alecha,” “May the Place have mercy on you.” As concepts tied to this world, comfort for death and sickness is found in physical places that embody the Almighty: a cemetery, the home of a mourner, or a hospital.

Where does one find comfort during financial hardship? We say to such a person, “Hamakom y’malei hasroincha,” “May the Place replace your loss.” Like your home, when tragedy strikes G-d can be found in your place of business, if your work honors Him and serves His children.

As the tie between this world and the World to Come, the place of comfort when money worries weigh on your spirit is the Place.

Question – Where do you seek comfort from setbacks at work? Please leave a 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!

The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

What do you really want from life? You may think you know the answer but read on because you don’t. Whether you call it your mission or purpose (hint, they’re not the same) or just what you want, everything you are and do comes from one decision. The problem is you’ve probably not ever consciously thought about it. Parshas Toldos explains your two choices:

“…two nations are in your womb and two regimes from your insides will be separated….” (Bereshis/Genesis 25:23).

The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make

At the beginning of this Sabbath’s parsha Jacob and Esau are born. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a pot of lentil stew. Then a famine forces Isaac to move to Gerar where he disputes with the Philistines and makes a treaty with Abimelech. Esau marries two Hittite women. Next, as Isaac lays dying, Rebecca conspires to get the blessing of the firstborn for Jacob leading to Esau hating his brother. Isaac admonishes Jacob not to marry a Canaanite, after which he flees to Bethuel’s house. Esau marries a third wife. Who needs Dynasty?

Kingdom and World

Virtually from the moment of conception Esau and Jacob fought. Rebecca feels the dispute in her womb. When she asks G-d what’s going on, He answers with the above line. This was no every day in utero sibling rivalry.

The Midrash describes Esau’s nation as a kingdom and Jacob’s as a world. The differences are stark. Kingdoms seek conquest and plunder, epitomized by the Roman Empire, the descendants of Esau. Rome’s armies were invincible, her pleasures the bloodthirsty entertainments of the coliseum.

In contrast, there are two worlds: this world and the World to Come. While the essence of this world is physical, it cannot exist without its spiritual dimension. The World to Come is purely spiritual. Plunder has no meaning. You need only conquer the lesser aspects of your nature.

Your Most Basic Choice

While it doesn’t feel like babies kicking your insides, the battle between desire for kingdom and world rages in you. Each time you speak or act, you’re choosing which one you want. If you’re tired or upset and yell, make demands, or try to control people, you’re building a kingdom. You may conquer your family members. They’ll put up with a lot. You might be able to dominate friends and co-workers, at least for a while.

When love motivates your words and actions, you’re building a world. People may not know why, but they want to be around you. Your professional knowledge becomes precious to them. Family, friends, and colleagues implicitly trust your counsel on personal matters.

Notice that in both cases people will listen to you. The difference is why. Rome had one goal: To be feared. Subjects dread their monarch. Such is the nature of kingdoms.

When you decide to build a world you choose pursuit of wisdom over coercion and self-control over displays of temper. You recognize conflict must be minimized and handled to create growth.

It seems like the most important choices you’ll make are whether to be an employee or business owner, marry, or have children. Before all of these and so many more decisions comes the most vital of all: will you build a kingdom or a world?

Question – What is one of your criteria for making this choice? Please leave a 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!

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

2 minutes to read

Love is easy when you’re on vacation or going out for a nice dinner. And I’m sure your hearts merge when watching your kid win the big game or give an amazing performance on stage! But when your spouse spews vitriol you need every ounce of patience to listen without retaliating. After all, if he loved you he wouldn’t treat you this way.

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

Love & Hate Aren’t Opposites

People automatically think the opposite of love is hate. But as I’ve written previously, the opposite of love is indifference. Rebuilding a marriage infected with apathy is much harder than when the “pots and pans are flying.” But long before divorce becomes a consideration a lot of bitter words can be exchanged. When this happens the tendency is for one or both partners to withdraw from the relationship. The seeds of permanent disinterest have been sown.

Ideally, such arguments won’t happen. But a conflict-free marriage is very rare and may not be desirable. Even if you are naturally inclined to an even temperament, the stresses of life can take their toll. Of course, it would be better if your partner didn’t let off steam in the marriage. Nonetheless, since it’s going to happen better be prepared.

Disengage to Preserve Love

Rather than battling it out, the best way to maintain lifelong love is to withdraw when you’re attacked. You don’t have to physically leave, although that might work. Instead of thinking about your next verbal volley, intensely focus on anything other than the person. Especially if your partner’s rant has no basis, engaging will only make it worse.

The ultimate test of love is your willingness to endure someone temporarily hating you. By being indifferent during the argument, you can minimize the long-term damage. When the episode has passed you won’t be wrapped up in negativity. You’ll be better prepared to repair whatever harm has been done.

By using such planned bouts of short-term apathy, you can prevent the more permanent kind from taking root. And, you’ll keep the bond of love in your relationship alive.

How do you minimize the negative effect of arguments on your marriage? Please comment below.

The 3 To-Dos that Guarantee Daily Success

3 minutes to read

Success means different things to different people. Therein lies its challenge. Unlimited possibilities make choosing difficult. What if you settle on the wrong definition of success? Years will be wasted pursuing the wrong option. Fortunately certain basic elements to a successful life will help you narrow the alternatives while propelling you toward your objective.

The 3 To-Dos that Guarantee Daily Success

Daily Action

Even if success for you means winning the lottery, it won’t happen useless you take consistent action. You’ll have to find lotteries to play, buy tickets, and check results. But assuming your plan relies on a more assured path to success, daily action is even more crucial.

Hard work directed to achieving your goals is the only route to success. If you want to spend your days lounging on the beach you’re going to need to amass enough wealth to do so or work daily on suppressing your desires. Artists must consistently pursue their art. Entrepreneurs must constantly be serving their clients.

Energy and Focus Are Key

Sustainable performance requires stamina. Dissipate your energy pursuing things that don’t lead to success and you’ll have nothing left for the to-dos that count. So before you do anything else you have to decide what you want. Without a target to focus on you’ll get lost.

Once you know where you’re going, you have to have the gas to get you there. Continuous performance must be supported with physical, mental, and spiritual energy. Run short of any of these and your journey will end.

The 3 Essential To-Dos

Creating a routine is the best route to consistent behavior. The power of habit requires a lower expenditure of energy, leaving you more to deal with the creative challenges you’ll face striving for your goals. Make these three tasks part of your daily regimen:

  1. Plan your day the night before. Write down your to-dos with your goals in front of you. This helps to insure your work is meaningful. The benefits of planning the night before are:
    • Knowing what tasks you face the next day allows your brain to work on them while you sleep;
    • You won’t waste time in the morning figuring out what needs to be done;
    • There’s less of a chance you’ll get distracted by a tempting diversion that isn’t going to get you to your goals.
  2. Recharge you mental and spiritual batteries before taking on the challenges of the day. Such prayer has three aspects:
    • Express gratitude for what you have in your life. Family, friends, rewards received, and trials to overcome, all should inspire thankfulness.
    • Affirm the person you seek to become. Identify the one or two qualities obstructing your success. Find or create a declaration to instill them in yourself. For example, if you lack self-assurance, proclaim you are confident and why.
    • Reiterate your commitment to the G-d. Nobody achieves success alone. By stating your desire for a relationship you align yourself with the infinite power of the universe.
  3. Counterintuitively, exercise increases your energy level. In or out of the gym, moderate or heavy, get your body moving. Outdoors you can enjoy fresh air (even in Los Angeles). Work out at least 20 minutes in addition to warming up and cooling down.

Whether you aspire to world-class achievements or have your eye on more modest success, make these three to-dos part of your daily routine. The focus and energy they give you will propel you forward like nothing else.

What daily to-dos drive you to success? Please comment below.

How Your Best Intentions are Harming People

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chayei Sarah – Genesis 23:1-25:18

How many times have you spoken to your spouse with the best intentions only to have your words completely misinterpreted? Likewise, have you done a friend a favor only to find the adage “no good deed goes unpunished” seems to apply? I’ve written before about how G-d judges intentions. So why doesn’t He make things work out the way you intend? Parshas Chayei Sarah explains what’s going on:

“Let it be the maiden to whom I say. ‘Please tip over your jug so that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her you will have designated for Your servant, for Isaac…” (Bereshis/Genesis 24:14).

How Your Best Intentions are Harming People

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with the death of Sarah. Abraham purchases a burial site, inters her, and devotedly mourns. Then he orders Eliezer, his servant, to find a wife for Isaac. Next, Abraham remarries. The narrative concludes with his death and the death of Ishmael.

God Knows Your Intentions

The Midrash notes the impropriety of Eliezer’s above request. According to his plea any woman, no matter what her status, would fit the bill. Nonetheless, knowing that Eliezer acted with the best intentions the Almighty sent him the saintly Rebecca. Why did He treat him so kindly?

Until he received Abraham’s instructions for finding Isaac a wife, Eliezer had hoped his daughter would marry his master’s son. Finding this was not to be, he nonetheless faithfully carried out his duty. He lost no time preparing for and setting out on his journey. He fervently prayed for success, beseeching G-d to, “Do kindness with my master.”

Clarify Your Intentions Before Acting

Notice Eliezer’s clarity of intentions. From the outset, he sought a woman of character. He brought gifts to persuade her family to consent to the marriage. All his arrangements focused on a successful outcome for Isaac and Abraham.

By engaging in such preparation you can ensure your true intentions are sound:

  1. Whatever you are saying or doing, it should come from devotion to the other person.
  2. Resolve to have his or her best interest at heart.
  3. When you speak with your spouse, child, or friend, plan your words in advance. How could you be misinterpreted?
  4. Likewise with your actions. Could something you do be misconstrued? Explaining your behavior beforehand may make your intentions clear.

Assumptions Defeat Clarity

It’s easy to think your intentions are clear. After all, you know what you’re thinking. But the only way others can know is if you tell them. Now that you have to articulate your meaning you may find you’re not as certain. Taking the time to assure your heart, words, and actions are aligned with your intentions will help you build solid relationships based on mutual understanding.

Question – How do you make sure your speech and behavior match your intentions? Please leave a 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!

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