Category Archives: Scripture

God Wants You to Get Started Now

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayikra – Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Newton’s 1st law of motion seems to apply to how people behave: “A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.” Since procrastination is so common you’d think G-d decreed idleness. Getting started is the most difficult part of any new project. But along comes Parshas Vayikra:

And He called to Moses… (Vayikra/Leviticus 1:1)

God Wants You to Get Started Now

This Sabbath’s parsha begins the third book of the Torah by the same name. Its other name, Leviticus, refers to its detailing the duties of the Kohanim or Priests, who are part of the tribe of Levi. The parsha gives the rules for bringing offerings on the altar. Notice in verse 2:13 they must be salted, hence why on the Sabbath bread is dipped in salt.

Why the Almighty Calls

Throughout the Torah, G-d calls to Moses then speaks to him. It would seem that all the Almighty wants is a conversation. But digging deeper we find that He is communicating so Moses and the Israelites will take some action. In the case of the above verse, He gives directions about how to bring sacrifices.

Waiting to receive precise directions isn’t the best way to create a relationship with G-d.

Midrash Rabbah discusses mighty warriors who do the Almighty’s bidding. They are neither champions like Samson nor soldiers of the line. The Midrash says they are the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai and committed to doing what G-d wants before hearing what it was they had to do.

The doing preceded detailed directions. Such faith and trust gratify G-d.

You Should Get Started Now

Everyone has a project they need to start. Is yours getting fit, starting a business, finding a new job, or renewing your marriage? Quickly figure out the first step you should take and get going.

If you think taking more time to plan will ensure greater success you’re fooling yourself. Paraphrasing Helmuth von Moltke:

No Plan Survives First Contact with the Main Force

Every endeavor in life is a learning experience. You can absorb lessons now or later. One way or another you’ll have to grow and change to conquer new challenges. Planning isolated from action won’t get you there.

As a bonus, if you start today, now, you’ll be pleasing God. He wants you to overcome trials. If you take the first step in faith, the Almighty will show you the next one.

So what are you waiting for? 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Why Self-Promotion Should Make You Feel Good

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayakhel – Exodus 35:1-38:20

Humility is a virtue, no doubt about it. But like many good things, in excess it becomes a vice. Veterans are particularly prone to think all self-promotion is bad. Parshas Vayakhel has a different view:

“Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood….” (Shemos/Exodus 37:12)

Why Self-Promotion Should Make You Feel Good

This Sabbath’s parsha reviews the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). It also relates perhaps the only time in Jewish history that a building campaign was so oversubscribed people actually had to be told to stop giving!

The Nature of Reward

Bezalel gets all the credit for building the ark. Scripture records his name. And he received his full reward in the World to Come. Bezalel gets all the glory even though others helped construct the ark.

G-d does not diminish Bezalel’s heavenly reward despite his receiving eternal publicity in the Bible. True, he devoted all of his talent and energy to building the ark and the Tabernacle. But you would think such a breach of humility as accepting sole credit would justify the Almighty’s reducing Bezalel’s portion in the World to Come.

The great sage Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, better known as the Rashba, concludes that G-d wants the names of people who performed good deeds publicized and remembered. Others will be encouraged to carry out more good works.

When Self-Promotion is Virtuous

Other commentators, like R’ Yehudah HaChassid, castigate people who perform good deeds in order to get recognition. He focuses special contempt on someone who refuses to let others participate in a community project so he will get sole credit.

So which is it? Should we shun self-promotion or publicize our good deeds?

Motive makes all the difference. If you announce your actions to receive honor, the Almighty won’t be impressed. No one else should be either. As well, if your good deed helps an individual, out of respect for the recipient’s dignity keep the matter private.

If you seek publicity to better serve your family or community, the example of Bezalel shows the merit of such behavior. When, like the building of the Tabernacle, a project benefits the whole community you’re setting an example that G-d wants others to follow.

At first, you may find it uncomfortable to tell people about your good deeds. Consider which is more important: your own ease or spreading the idea that everyone should participate in bettering our communities. When others hear about what you’ve done and join in you’ll have reason to celebrate.

How do you promote yourself so as to benefit others? 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Should You Act or Rely on Faith?

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Sisa – Exodus 30:11-34:35

G-d wants you to have faith in Him. Indeed since He is a loving Father you should be able to rely on His care. But after the debacle in the Garden of Eden, the Almighty decreed that humans would, “with the sweat of your face…eat bread.” So G-d requires that you take action to make a living. It’s confusing. When should you just sit back and trust in the Almighty’s generosity? And when must you take steps toward your goal? The secret is uncovered in Parshas Ki Sisa:

“And G-d spoke to Moses saying, see I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah…” (Shemos/Exodus 31:1-2)

Should You Act or Rely on Faith-

This week’s parsha gives the mitzvah of the half-shekel, deals with the last few items for the Altar, discusses the Sabbath, and relates the story of the Golden Calf.

What’s In a Name?

G-d appointed Bezalel to build the Mishkan, the Earthly abode in which He would rest His presence. He could have said, “I want Bezalel to build the Mishkan.” Instead the Almighty points out He called Bezalel “by name.” Why is the name important?

If you recall the story of creation, G-d paraded the animals by Adam, who gave each a name. He didn’t label them randomly. Each name designated the essence of the animal’s character.

Originally Adam was to fulfill human destiny. But when he ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil G-d changed His plan. No longer would the whole of humanity be bound in one soul. Ever since, when a child is born, the Almighty designates a piece of Adam’s soul for him or her. Certain skills and characteristics reside in that bit of Adam’s spiritual DNA. At the same time G-d gives the child a name. The two, soul and name, are inextricably bound.

When G-d appointed Bezalel “by name” to oversee construction of the Mishkan, He ensured the particular abilities and traits His appointee got from Adam would be put to use.

Act or Have Faith?

Bezalel is not unique. G-d gives each human being, including you, specific expertise and qualities as a legacy from Adam. He chooses them for you so you can accomplish the mission He designates for you.

However, the Almighty’s plan for the world cannot be understood by the human mind. So it’s impossible to know for sure what your mission is. You must have faith that the path you choose is the one G-d chose for you.

You must do your best to understand your strengths. Introspection and guidance from those who know you best will help. Having done your best to accurately determine the gifts the Almighty gave you, align your mission with them.

Then take action.

If you made an open, wholehearted self-investigation, your action will bear fruit. The more certainty you bring to your actions, the more likely your sincere faith and actions will be rewarded.

What does it mean if you don’t make progress after trying and trying and trying? Perhaps your self-assessment is off the mark. Try again. Life is an iterative process.

You know for sure that G-d has given you a mission and the ability to see it through. Have faith in him and yourself that you will find your mission. Take action to make it happen.

Do you have clarity about your life’s mission? 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

3 minutes to read

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

Despite a lack of designer clothing, what people wore during Biblical times conferred status and sometimes caused jealousy. Case in point, Jacob makes a multicolored tunic for Joseph. The gift ignites the envy of his other sons. When you get jealous and start wondering why don’t you have such nice things it undermines your confidence. Parsha Tetzaveh has the cure:

“And they will make the ephod of gold, blue, purple and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen…” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

This Sabbath’s parsha explains the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid (continually lit lamp), how to make the vestments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim, and how to inaugurate them, the mitzvah of the korban tamid (continual offering) and how to build and use the incense alter, the Holy of Holies.

Garments Specifically for the Priests

Not long ago my daughter asked why we’re not allowed to have cloths made from a mixture of wool and linen. She was referring to a verse in the Torah, Deuteronomy/Devarim 22:11, that prohibits wearing such a mixture. I answered her since G-d doesn’t want us to, we don’t in order to show our love for Him. She didn’t seem convinced.

Then I explained to her that garments made from wool and linen mixed together may only be worn by the Kohanim. She accepted this because she knows they have a special relationship with the Almighty but also huge responsibilities. The tradeoff made sense to her.

Contingent Confidence Is Actually Self-Doubt

I doubt you envy the Kohanim. In Biblical times, only Korah and his followers coveted the priesthood and there’s no indications it was because of their vestments. But you may be jealous of a neighbor who has a nice car or takes fantastic vacations. One of the pitfalls of financial success is a heightened awareness of what you have compa. Feeling you don’t measure up often weakens your confidence.

Tying your self-assurance to things or other people means anytime relative wealth changes so does you confidence. When someone gets more, your self-esteem drops. Combating such feelings can be difficult. The lesson of wool and linen garments is one among many that will help you:

  1. Some people have vast responsibilities, ones you don’t want, that enable them to earn huge incomes or unique privileges.
  2. Some people come from wealthy families. Their starting point is different than yours. Comparisons don’t apply.
  3. Some people have suffered a great deal. Though they might gladly give it, all their wealth can’t relieve their pain. Do you really want to trade places?
  4. Some people sacrificed their youth to develop talents that paid off later in life. Even if you are willing to make such a trade off now, it’s impossible. But it doesn’t mean the other person is better than you. Incidentally, he may live with the burden of hating his childhood.

By recalling these truths, you will detach yourself from what other people do or have. Then you can tie your self-confidence to your own personal development. Ridding yourself of envy will make you an unqualified success.

What do you do to be happy about other people’s success? 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

2-½ minutes to read

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

You can express unlimited passion when loving your spouse. The challenge comes when you need to deal with relationship problems. The temptation is to let the matter slide in order to avoid an argument. But allowing resentment to build up can cause you to fly off the handle. The passion that should be reserved for positive emotions spills out in a flood of negative energy. Permanent damage to your marriage can be the result. In the interaction between G-d and Moses in Parshas Terumah you’ll find a better way:

“…And I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the cherubim that are on the Ark of Testimony…” (Shemos/Exodus 25:22)

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

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

G-d Doesn’t Just Talk to Moses

G-d could have spoken to Moses anywhere and at anytime. But the Almighty knew this would overwhelm Moses. Instead He established a comfortable mode for communicating.

The ark was located in the Holy of Holies, a place of unsurpassed tranquility. The wings of the two cherubim provided a shield over the ark, in essence protecting it from harm. The distance between the cherubim was about a cubit, approximately 18 inches. G-d revealed Himself only in this safe environment and to this limited extent. By regulating His awesome presence, the Almighty created a pleasant connection with Moses. When G-d delivered difficult messages, Moses felt His love because the Almighty restrained Himself. Intimacy and endurance were the hallmarks of their relationship.

Intentionality Is Key in Relationship Problems

Rarely does trouble in a relationship get better with age. So ignoring problems is not a viable way to keep your marriage on track. If you follow the model G-d used with Moses, you can avoid a potentially explosive situation with your spouse.

  1. Chose a place of serenity. Send the kids to a friend’s house, turn off phones, and get rid of any other potential distractions.
  2. Surround you and your spouse with symbols and love and security. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. Sit on the floor amidst pillows.
  3. Begin by affirming your desire for maintaining intimacy and a lifelong marriage.
  4. Talk about enough of the problem that the issues are clear, but don’t belabor your points. Limit expressions of hurt. Strive for understanding by your spouse. Don’t punish him.

Taking the time to create the proper setting and retaining self-control will show your good intentions. Such a demonstration of caring will turn a problem into a path for deeper respect and love.

How do you prepare your spouse to hear about problems? 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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