Parsha Chukat — How to win friends and influence people
My late father was a big fan of Dale Carnegie. One of the key principles of the courses was “helping understand yourself and others (people, family, or customers) better.
In this week’s Parsha we see Moshe losing his Temper. Indeed, Rabbi Sacks essay on the Parsha is titled “Anger Management”. I and we are all challenged by Anger. We are probably most challenged by our kids, and anger and tone can be damaging.
Numbers 20:10 במדבר כ׃י
ויקהלו משה ואהרן את־הקהל אל־פני הסלע ויאמר להם שמעו־נא המרים המן־הסלע הזה נוציא לכם מים׃
And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said to them, hear now, you rebels; From this rock will we bring out water for.
So, why did he lose it? Let’s explore some ideas here.
Learning the skills of emotional intelligence or conflict resolution would be a good start.
But, as my theme for the Parsha is ESG I want to focus on how to influence an agenda or an idea.
We have war and diplomacy. War is a form of Anger, force or bullying as we see in the current invasion of Ukraine. Diplomacy is a form getting your ideas across in a more subtle or intelligent way,
There was no attempt of diplomacy on the part of Moshe in dealing with the water crises. On the other hand, in our Parsha, we have an example of diplomacy when Moshe requested to bypass the Land of Edom on the way to the Land of Israel. That attempt was not successful. Today, in the Israel-Palestinian conflict we have agreements and diplomacy that have failed. Now we have war, terrorism, hatred, and separation.
And we have to ask why?
Despite of all the opportunities and prosperity that the Israeli and Palestinian Arabs have, there is still so much hostility. I live in area in Jerusalem called North Talpiot. The area is surrounded by Arab neighborhoods. These neighbours play in the same parks, walk in the walking paths, shop, and work in the same shop and restaurants. They have the same opportunity as us. So, why cannot have real peace and unity. We do not have to agree, but how can we change the situation?
The Abrahamic Accord is a growing movement, trend shows what is possible. And why does the Abrahamic Accord herald some much potential for change?
Going back to Dale Carnegie , in a book from around 40 years called “ Customers Relationship Course” — there is a concept of good habits — Good Habit no 1 is –“I pledge to pay my customer a sincere compliment. “ What this translates is — look for the good in other , make it known how they are appreciated. Be nice. This is so simple and true.
Getting inspiration from the best-selling Book — “Gap Selling” — I would add Good Habit no 2 — I pledge to learn about my customer , my family , child and learn their pain.
Following on from this is Good Habit no 3 — I pledge to listen. We all like to lecture , sell ourselves , our ideas, our product. But we cannot make any connection (sale) without listening , creating a dialogue. One of the greatest challenges that I , we have is creating a connection with others and our kids . My daughter’s frequent expressions is “ You do not understand me”
This is so true.
So, let’s learn some more from Reb Shlomo Carlebach on Parshat Chukat where he emphases hearing. Judaism’s basic principle is — Shma Yisrael is hearing , listening .
“This Shabbos we are learning about the Para Aduma, (Red Heifer)and we are learning about how the Kohen would purify someone.
Let me ask you friends, when a person G-d forbid gets defiled by a dead body, how does he purify himself?
In a nutshell, death is when there is no one to receive what I want to give you. Imagine you pour out your heart to somebody, you want to say something so beautiful, and you see after the whole thing is over, they didn’t hear what you said. It’s like a feeling of death. To mamesh hear someone and receive their words… this is life itself. Friends, most people don’t need advice, they just need someone to listen to them. When someone says, ‘I need your advice’, most of the time they mean ‘have rachmanus, (pity) listen to me a little bit’. Okay, if something comes to your head and you say something good it’s also good. But we need good ears, ‘Shma Yisrael.’ A Yiddele doesn’t have to say so much. He has to listen well. This is real receiving.
So, friends, do you know what happened at Mount Sinai? Moshe Rabbeinu brought down the Torah from heaven. Who was the first person to receive the Torah? The Midrash says that when Moshe Rabbeinu came down from Heaven, the first person he gave the Torah over to was the high priest, Aron Hacohen. What is the High Priest all about? The high priest is a person who has the vessels and gives us vessels to receive the Torah.
To have vessels to receive and give them over to someone else… both together. Do you know how much purity this brings down to the world?
I bless you and me that when you give over, there is always someone ready to receive it, and may it be received with such purity and love”
Yes , we need to have Vessels — Develop good habits to “win friends and influence people” , to make a connection to those who are different and those within in our family.