0 Posted by - January 6, 2014 - Parsha, Shemot


Parashat Beshalach
I got

 a phone call from an old friend last week.  “Yosef, you have a minute?” I said yes. “Can you tell me how I can build up self confidence in my 6th grade son who is failing in school?”

Some things just can’t be done in one minute, no matter how good a coach you are. But, I can make my friend think in one minute. So, I rebounded the question to the questioner. “Tell me, how is your self confidence as a father? Children learn by example, and if your confidence is low when you are out of a job, how should his confidence be high when he gets a “C” on his report card?”  That left him thinking.  In less than one minute. End of phone call.

If you have more than a minute now, you will learn how to improve on self confidence. But first, you must know the importance of confidence. What it is, and what it is not. If you have confidence, you are more likely to be successful in life. This is the way G-d made the laws of nature. People are attracted to confident people. They want to hire them and pay them good salaries. They want to marry them.  People trust them. They want them as a friend. Confident students learn better than their non- confident peers.  And all presidents who were elected during the last forty years usually sounded more confident and positive than their rivals. (study by M. Seligman)

In the first couple of seconds when someone sees you, he subconsciously perceives you as confident or lacking confidence. On what basis does the subconscious make such decisions?  It picks up this feeling from body language, things like the way you stand. If you smile, or not.  You communicate to others if you are confident or not in your handshake.  If you stand erect, (no matter what your height is,) people will perceive you as confident. If you keep up that stance in your walk, people will think of you as someone with a future, someone who is going somewhere in life. All you have to do is to hang your smile from the sky, as you look straight into the eye of the people you meet.

How can one become confident in such a way that the confidence will automatically affect his body language, as well? First, you need to define confidence. Some people don’t see themselves as confident, because they confuse confidence with arrogance. Confidence is not arrogance. (I demonstrated the aforementioned body language techniques in a class I gave in Aish Hatorah, and someone from the back of the class said he did not like them. “It looks like haughtiness and arrogance, to me.” I responded, “This does not mean you have to overdo it, puffing up your chest or putting your nose in the air. Just make sure that you are standing straight and not slumping over.”  Think about it. Even in reading other people’s body language, this student confused confidence with arrogance. Sometimes, there is just a fine line between the two.) Confidence is the belief that you can… It is belief in yourself. The confident one is a believer. He believes in something, not always knowing exactly what.

קשה פרנסה של אדם כקריעת ים סוף  [Attaining] A person’s livelihood is as difficult as splitting the Red Sea. (Psachim 118b) Rashi explains this. It is as big a miracle for G-d to give livelihood as it is for Him to split the Sea. Rashi adds. To teach you that a person should pray intensely for his livelihood. We also find this passage in regards to marriage. קשה זיווגן כקריעת ים סוף  Pairing up a couple is as hard as splitting the Red Sea. (Sotah 2a) What is the connection between G-d splitting the sea, G-d working out a livelihood for you, or G-d making your shidduch? Why are they all put in the same category of difficulty? And how do we deal with such a concept, that anything is “hard” for G-d? The Creator of the Universe should have no difficulty in splitting a sea!!?!

When it comes to livelihood, people look around at the options they have to make money. And many times, the money comes from the option they considered least promising. In finding a spouse, a person thinks that he has this shadchan, and that friend, and that their close connection will surely bring them the best shidduch… and still, the shidduch comes from the most unexpected venue. This is like the splitting of the sea: the Jews were in a spot where they were closed off on all sides! The farthest thought from their minds was that the sea would split!

Nothing is hard for G-d. Sometimes, it seems to us that G-d will have a hard time pulling things through. Where will He bring the salvation from ? How will it all come about? When a person thinks that he has his livelihood under control, he should try thinking ten years ahead…  Can he be sure that everything will be okay, and the markets will work in his favor? If you think so, Rashi has a message for you. Start praying!! Nothing is solid. This does not mean that you should not be confident. How so?

In shidduchim, some people think they have all the reasons to be married early. Money, looks, smarts, prestigious family, connections…. At the end of the day, the shidduch does not comes from “good connections”. It comes in the most unexpected way. “Just happened to meet an old friend who mentioned that he knows of a guy…” (How I met my wife is a crazy story, not for now…It had nothing to do with friends, whose mothers are shadchanim or principals in girls’ seminaries.)  Livelihood and marriage are similar to the splitting of the sea, where salvation came from the most unexpected direction. Of course, nothing is hard for G-d.  It was just so hard for them to see how He would bring salvation. Does this mean no confidence? Yes, and no. If you believe that you have your livelihood under control for the rest of your life, then I do not suggest that you be confident. If you are confident that you have your shidduch and that your shalom bayit will be bliss, just because you are a nice guy, you may have something unexpected in store for you. But, if you believe that G-d knows what you need, and will take care of you in another five years, just as he has taken care of you till now, then you have “what” to believe in.

The Chafetz Chaim  illustrates this thought with a parable. King David tells us, השלך על ×”’ יהבך והוא יכלכלך  (Psalms 55;23) Throw your burden on G-d, and He will support you. There was a man schlepping a heavy package on the side of the road.  A nice man from the town passed by in a carriage and offered to give him a lift. Taking his seat, the man picked up his heavy bags and put them on his shoulders. The driver asked him why he did not put the bags down. The fellow answered, “It is enough that you are carrying me. You do not need to carry my bags, as well.” The driver answered him, “It makes no difference if you put the bags on the floor or you carry them on your shoulders. At the end of the day, it all weighs the same for the buggy .”

The workaholic is like that fellow carrying his bags. G-d has been and is always sustaining you. It is silly to worry, just because you do not know how things are going to work out. Just as before, everything will work out somehow, with G-d’s help.  As long as you believe… G-d has been carrying you till now; He does not need you to carry your heavy worries …

The only way I can describe the type of confidence many people today have in G-d is through an Israeli joke. A respectable-looking fellow was schlepping two suitcases on a main street in Jerusalem. He flagged down a cab…  “How much would you charge to take me to the Sheraton hotel?” The cabby answered, “60 shekel!”. “And how much would you charge for my two suitcases?” “Free of charge.”  “Fine! Take the bags to the hotel, and I’ll walk. 60 shekel is way over priced!!!”   (Ever since, the ICDI , Israeli Cab Driver Intelligence, started charging 5 shekel for each suitcase. Too many people were taking advantage of this trick.)

Some people think that they can fall back on Bitachon just when life gets hard. But their everyday life has nothing to do with G-d. They do not want G-d together with them in their life journey. This is not the real thing. It is like asking G-d to shlepp your suitcases, while you walk to the hotel…

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