Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
"I have no self-confidence," one of the girls in the Nifgashot workshop said to Rav Yisrael Meir Lau in a special ZOOM meeting that we held recently. Rav Lau, 83 years old, is a former Chief Rabbi. The girl continued as follows: "Soon I will celebrate my Bat Mitzvah and I lack the courage to speak or bless in front of others. I know that you speak in front of the whole country and the entire world with enormous confidence. Could I possibly ask your advice for building self-confidence?"
Here's the surprising answer that she received:
"All of us know a little bit of Tanach (Bible) and a little history. Many nations have been here before - Ammon, Moav, Aram, Tzidon, and Amalek, as well as Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. Where is even one of these nations? And none of them endured expulsion from Spain or extermination at Auschwitz. They were not driven from their homes, so why are none of them, despite their power at the time, no longer on the map? They disappeared, were erased, and left the world stage. Where are their ideologies? Down through the generations, no nation was smaller, suffered more, or was persecuted more than one nation - the Jewish nation. And yet this nation lives, thrives, is full of joy, and continues eternally. When I get up to speak, I am reminded of this. I represent this nation and its story.
So tell yourself this: I will get up and say what I have to say, because it's not just me who is speaking. Rather, generations with an eternal message are speaking through me. Generations that did not exchange one ideology for another, but remained faithful - and here we are, alive and well. This thought has given me the confidence to speak with the Pope, with Fidel Casto, with the rulers of the former Soviet Union and the United States, and perhaps it will give you confidence to deliver your Bat Mitzvah speech. We all have something to say to the world."