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Kislev: From Faith to Self Confidence

The month of Kislev parallels the soul power of confidence. This is also the meaning of Kislev: “And they put kislam (their confidence) in God.”[1] Confidence is the inner dimension of the sefirah of netzach (victory-eternity). Netzach is the power to take what is floating around in the worlds of thought and emotion and apply it in reality. It is the power of implementation and the ability to overcome obstacles, to oversee all that has to be done and to eternalize the goal in the real world. All of these netzach actions require an internal soul-motivation of confidence (and they also increase confidence).

Self-Confidence

To enter the world of action, to initiate and work in reality, a person needs self-confidence. After all, not everything comes pre-packaged and ready for us. We experience doubt and deliberation: Who said that I will succeed? And who am I to try? And what will prevent me from failing? Without minimal self-confidence, a small child will not take his first steps. We encourage him and tell him that he can do it. For adults, as well, every step forward is accompanied by a feeling of instability (one foot in the air). We have to overcome the paralyzing fear.

But isn’t self-confidence connected to ego? Isn’t it a form of negative pride? Rectified self-confidence flows from confidence in God. God gives us both the tools with which to take action and also our feeling of self-confidence. This is the self-confidence that guided the Hasmoneans. On Chanukah, we say, “You gave the strong into the hands of the weak.”[2] Were the Maccabees weak? They were true heroes. But in their consciousness, they felt that they were weak and that it was only God Who infused them with the spirit of bravery. (As opposed to the Greeks, who glorified their own bravery). Kabbalah teaches that the letter of the month of Kislev is the samech, (support). This is the consciousness of “God supports all those who fall.”[3] We can always rely on God.

From Faith to Confidence

Faith and confidence go together. Confidence flows from a strong faith in God, which transforms into faith in the power that God gives us. Faith is what allows us to overcome our doubts and to march forward. Our intellect will always remain doubtful. It is only faith, which is above the intellect, that provides us with inner surety and the ability to take a chance. For after all, if we don’t go out on a limb, we will never succeed. True, “a fool believes everything.”[4] But there is also such a thing as positive foolishness – when we believe in something that is not quite proven, but we have a strong feeling that it is true. פתי  (fool) is an acronym for פְּרָזוֹת תֵּשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם (Jerusalem will sit unwalled).[5] In Jerusalem, the eternal city, there will be a feeling of confidence that will make walls and fences superfluous.

There is a difference, however, between faith and confidence. At the level of faith itself, the person thinks only about God, and that “there is nothing other than He.” One should turn only to Him. What am I? Nothing, absolute nothingness. At the level of faith, we look up and cleave to God. At the level of confidence, we transition from the feeling of nothingness to the feeling that we are “something.” The word איש (man) alludes to the combination of אין-יש (nothing-something). The level of confidence transforms the nothingness of faith to ‘somethingness.’ One can be a great believer in God, Who creates and oversees everything, and also believe that all is for the best. But to be a leader, like the Hasmoneans, faith has to transform into confidence – active, initiating, victorious confidence.

[1] Psalms 78:7.

[2] Al Hanisim prayer.

[3] Psalms 145:14.

[4] Proverbs 14:15.

[5] Zechariah 2:8.

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