Category Archives: Scripture

You’re Lying to Yourself: Here’s How to Solve It

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayechi – Genesis 47:28-50:26

The calendar year is coming to a close. Merry making aside, it’s time for taking stock. Did you meet your goals? What held you back from making the required changes? I bet Parshas Vayechi has the answer:

“Simeon and Levi are Brothers.’” (Bereshis/Genesis 49:5)

You’re Lying to Yourself: Here’s How to Solve It

This week’s parsha, concluding the book of Genesis, begins with Jacob becoming ill. With death imminent, he appeals to Joseph not to bury him in Egypt, but back in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah in the cave of Machpelah. Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his sons. Then he blesses his own sons, though some of the blessings sound more like rebukes.

All of Egypt mourns Jacob, testifying to his greatness. The grandeur of his burial procession impresses and scares the Canaanites. After his father’s death, Joseph assures his brothers he forgives them. He lives to see his great-grandchildren. Before he dies, Joseph asks his brothers to bring his bones with them when G-d brings them out of Egypt.

The stage is now set for the enslavement of the Children of Israel and their redemption.

Fraternal Fidelity of Convenience

One of the challenges of written communication is conveying the feeling behind the words. When Jacob tells his sons that Simeon and Levi are bothers, I imagine it was with an undertone of contempt.

Back in verse 34:31, when the two brothers wiped out Shechem in retribution for the defilement of Dinah, they justified themselves by saying, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?” Jacob quietly took the explanation under advisement. At the time he was willing to accept their word.

But their subsequent initiation of the sale of their brother Joseph put the lie to their claim of fraternal loyalty. They slaughtered the Shechemites out of anger and hatred. Jealousy motivated their selling of their brother. Loyalty to their siblings was a justification to salve their consciences.

Dedicated father that he was, Jacob waited for a time when Simeon’s and Levi’s mind would be open to show them how they were fooling themselves.

A True Friend Will Challenge You When You’re Lying

Most of the people I know are honest, scrupulously so when dealing with others. But they willingly accept lies about themselves. They rationalize rather than confronting uncomfortable truths. Saddest of all, they’re as likely to put themselves down with their lies as to be conceited. Seeing our true selves is perhaps the most difficult task we have.

A real friend will help you see yourself honestly. But he won’t be confrontational about your lying. He will understand directly disputing your self-perception will only cause you to dig in your heals. Rather he’ll ask you questions to help you be honest with yourself.

We all put on faces in public. Often these masks are effective and for good reason. But until we stop lying to ourselves, both good and bad, we cannot overcome challenges and improve. For 2016, vow to find a true friend or mentor who will help you see the real you. It’s the greatest gift you can give yourself.

How do you make sure you’re not lying to yourself? 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!

You’ll Find Unity in the Most Unusual Place

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27

I often write about the three realms: physical, mental, and spiritual in which we must intentionally build our lives. People often equate the heart to the spirit and the mind to emotion and intellect, and perhaps the stomach to physicality. Where in the body are all three are unified? Parshas Vayigash answers:

“And he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.’”(Bereshis/Genesis 45:14)

You’ll Find Unity in the Most Unusual Place

In this week’s parsha we find Joseph’s brothers have learned their lesson. Judah steps forward to take Benjamin’s place as a slave. Overcome with emotion Joseph clears the room and reveals himself to his brothers. He convinces them to bring Jacob and their households to Egypt where he will take care of them. At first, Jacob does not believe his sons when they say Joseph is still alive. But the brothers finally convince him and they load up the wagons and move to Egypt where they settle in Goshen.

The famine comes. It is harsh. The Egyptians spend all of their money buying food then sell their animals, land, and finally themselves so that they will live. Only the priests are exempt.

The Nature of Connection

Earlier in the Torah narrative (verse 37:35) Jacob declares the death of his precious Joseph to be so devastating he will never recover, saying, “I will descend on account of my son as a mourner to the grave.”

Often through death, we learn about the true nature of life.

Think about your children. You eat with them (the physical realm), help them with their homework (the mental realm), and exchange gestures of affection like hugs and kisses and loving words (the spiritual realm). As they grow up how you interact may change but the relationships stay strong by building them in all three realms.

When one of your children leaves home the physical bond is disrupted. You may feel sad but you rebuild the connection emphasizing the mental and spiritual bond. Only, Heaven forbid, at death is unity severed forever.

Unity in Relationships

In the above verse when Joseph disclosed his true identity to his brothers, and in verse 46:29 when he reunited with his father, he fell on their necks. When you think about a reunion, it conjures up images of bear hugs, holding the person’s face in your hands, even lifting the person off the ground. Have you ever seen someone fall on the other person’s neck?

Of course, if you think about it carefully, had Joseph literally fallen on their necks he probably would have broken them. The neck metaphorically describes the nature of the reunion.

The neck connects the head to the rest of the body through three main parts: the esophagus (gullet), the blood vessels (jugular veins and carotid arteries), and the trachea (windpipe). Each equates to one of the three realms.

Physical Realm: Esophagus – Ingests food that nourishes the body

Mental Realm: Blood Vessels – Carry blood to and from the brain vitalizing its intellectual capacity

Spiritual Realm: Trachea – Produces the sound of prayer and words of love

The neck represents the unity of the three realms.

Joseph falling on the necks of his brother and father signifies their complete reconnecting. The bond that his presumed death had severed was made whole again.

When working on relationships a person tends to focus on one realm. Some excel at speaking loving words others at doing things, such as making meals, that physically support the relationship. Create ways that expand your repertoire so you bond in all three realms. By doing so you’ll bring unbreakable unity to your relationships.

Question – What things do you do to bond in each of the three realms? 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!

What to Do When Another Sees Your Life More Clearly

2-1/2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayeishev – Genesis 37:1-40:23

As a staff officer, one of the most crucial jobs I have is making my commander aware of issues that have escaped his attention. You’ll often hear people say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It applies to life well beyond the battlefield as can be seen in Parshas Vayeishev:

“Joseph dreamt a dream which he told to his brothers.” (Bereshis/Genesis 37:5).

What to Do When Another Sees Your Life More Clearly

In this week’s parsha we learn about Joseph’s prophetic dreams. As a result, his brothers sell him to a caravan that takes him to Egypt where he becomes a slave. All the while Jacob thinks he is dead. In the midst of these travails is the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Joseph rises to run Potiphar’s household but is jailed when Potihpar’s wife slanders him. The parsha ends with Joseph being the conduit for the interpreting the Chief of Butler’s and Chief of Baker’s dreams.

The stage is being set for the Israelite’s decent into Egyptian slavery.

Anger at Joseph’s Prophecy

When Joseph related his dreams to his brothers they became furious. How dare this pipsqueak daddy’s favorite suggest they will bow down to him? Their hatred flared. Even Jacob, normally even-tempered, scolded him though he did not go so far as to reject it out of hand.

These responses show a different awareness. Already jealous of Joseph, the brothers could not be sufficiently objective about their own lives. So their jealousy deepened. But the wiser Jacob realized events are in G-d’s hands and sometimes he reveals to others matters that remain hidden to people who will be affected.

Are You Seeing Your Life Clearly?

You need not have your outlook clouded by resentment to fail to clearly see where your life is headed. Gaining perspective when you are in the midst of events is difficult even without overwrought emotions. Inexperience or distraction can cause you to miss issues or opportunities that are obvious to an outsider.

That being the case, it’s crucial for you to get input from people who have the experience you lack. They can help you interpret events, identify options, and help you succeed.

Keep an open mind. When a friend or colleague offers you a perspective on your life don’t reject it out of hand. Take a few minutes to explore his rationale. Even if you conclude the insight is off-base, you’re well advised to follow Jacob’s example and keep the matter in mind.

Down life’s road, you may find someone else saw your life more clearly than you did. Now you know the person who can show you how to proceed.

Question – How do you manage to see your life clearly? 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!

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

When Hannah and I have an argument the challenge is figuring out when to re-engage. If she is still angry, trying to reconcile is usually fruitless. Knowing when her anger has subsided is the key. Parshas Vayishlach gives the answer:

“Jacob became very frightened and distressed” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:8).

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

In this week’s parsha Jacob prepares to be attacked by Esau. He struggles with the Angel and is given the name Israel, then reconciles with Esau and settles in Shechem.

Next, in retaliation for Dina’s abduction, Simon and Levi deceive then massacre the Shechemites. Jacob travels to Bethel where G-d confirms Jacob’s new name and reaffirms that the land of Canaan will be given to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with Jacob, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

Was Esau Still Angry?

Why, in the verse quoted above, was Jacob scared as he approached Esau? During his sojourn in Laban’s household, G-d protected Jacob and made him prosperous. Though his life potentially was in danger, surely he had no reason to be both afraid and distressed.

Most commentators agree that Jacob was afraid that he would have to kill Esau and distressed that he might be killed. As righteous as he was, it is not surprising that he feared killing his brother more than being killed.

But, when his mother told him to leave home, Rebecca ordered him not return, “until your brother’s wrath subsides.” Jacob had to determine the right time. How was he to know Esau had had a change of heart when couldn’t see or hear him?

Your Heart is a Mirror

Proverbs 27:19 gives a clue: “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.” Just as a pond mirrors your physical image, your heart, the seat of your emotions, mirrors another person’s emotions.

As Jacob headed toward home, he thought he was no longer angry with Esau. But on learning Esau was approaching, thoughts of killing Esau entered his mind, showing him he still harbored ill will in his heart. Jacob realized since he was not fully reconciled, Esau probably wasn’t either.

When you’ve had an argument with your spouse reconciliation begins with clarifying and resolving your own emotions. You must be sure you’re no longer angry otherwise your seemingly friendly overture will be rebuffed. Consider these questions:

  1. Do you feel compassion over your spouse being upset?
  2. Are you truly seeking repair and reunion or just a de-escalation of hostilities?
  3. Have you accepted you are at least partly responsible for the issue?
  4. Can you respond lovingly no matter how your spouse acts?

With your heart filled with love and understanding and no lingering anger, the opportunity to re-engage is at hand. And you have created the greatest chance your spouse’s heart, reflecting your own, will be open to reconciliation.

Question – How do you pave the way to resolving conflict with your spouse? 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!

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!

Get More Ideas Like These for Firing Up Your Life and a FREE Bonus!

Use:

  • The wisdom of Scripture
  • Battle-tested ideas from the military
  • Profitable business concepts

to design a better life for you and your family!

Plus, you'll get a FREE bonus, my 49 Day Challenge to Refine Your Character!