“Let's table the discussion" is an Adath Israel Shul initiative where a story or thought is presented in order to stimulate exciting and constructive discussion around our Shabbos table or among friends and children. (Dedicated to the Refuah Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana & Eliyahu Aharon Ben Yocheved Yetta Ettel).
(There is a great anecdote whose origin I am unaware that comes to mind today)
There was a business executive who was deep in debt and could see no way out. Creditors were closing in on him. Suppliers were demanding payment. He sat on the park bench, head in hands, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.
Suddenly an old man appeared before him. “I can see that something is troubling you,” he said.
After listening to the executive’s woes, the old man said, “I believe I can help you.” He asked the man his name, wrote out a check, and pushed it into his hand saying, “Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today, and you can pay me back at that time.”
Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come.
The business executive saw in his hand a check for $500,000, signed by Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world! “I can erase my money worries in an instant!” he realized. But instead, the executive decided to put the uncashed check in his safe. Just knowing it was there might give him the strength to work out a way to save his business, he thought.
With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales. Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again.
Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the uncashed check. At the agreed-upon time, the old man appeared. But just as the executive was about to hand back the check and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man.
“I’m so glad I caught him!” she cried. “I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he’s Warren Buffett.”And she led the old man away by the arm.
The astonished executive just stood there, stunned. All year long he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him.
Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around. It was his newfound self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.
While contemplating the great miracles commemorated on the last days of Pesach, one comes to ask the obvious: Why didn’t the Jewish people fight back against the Egyptians chasing them. After all, they vastly outnumbered the Egyptians? Why not engage in battle in order to defend themselves?
The Ibn Ezra answers that since the Egyptians enslaved the Jews, the Jews had learned from a young age to feel inferior to the Egyptian power holder. Thus, although possessing larger numbers, the Jews possessed smaller belief in their ability to engage their former oppressor in battle and perhaps even defeat them.
Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. suggests the same thing in regard to one’s battle against his Yetzer HaRa. Often, the feelings of inferiority we tend to feel when confronting the challenges of the Yetzer HaRa and the world which serves as the battlefield for the struggle against it, lead us to give up before attempting a complete and fair fight – a fight we can surely win if we try. The lesson of the Kriyas Yam Suf, celebrated in the midst of our Chag of freedom, reminds us that there is no real freedom like that of the person who believes in his own strength and the mission that provides him that strength – dedication to true Torah values. Believing in what WANTS to do and that one CAN do it, is a true recipe for the ultimate success against any enemy.
What challenges do YOU feel you could use a confidence boost in confronting?
How can you manufacture that confidence?
Let’s “table” the discussion – by discussing it with our children, spouses, families and guests and open an exciting discussion into our homes and communities