This Shabbat:

Friday Candle Lighting: 7:6 pm
Shabbat Ends: 8:34 pm

Torah Message:

Stage Fright

“And Aharon did so…” (8:3)

Stage fright, or as it’s called in Hebrew “aimat ha’tzibbur” — literally, “fear of the public”, affects nearly everyone.

For some people, having a molar extracted without anesthesia would be a preferable alternative to having to perform in public.

The degree of nervousness depends on several factors: The size of the audience, the importance of the audience, the amount, or lack, of preparation, the importance of the event, and the difficulty of the presentation.

Several years ago I was invited to speak at the plenary session of Agudat Yisrael. I had taken the precaution of flying to New York a couple of days before the event, having remembered a previous experience when I got off the plane, jumped into a taxi at JFK airport, rushed over to Long Island, davened with the yeshiva and then gave a speech to them for an hour. I had slept little, if at all, on the plane, and when I started to speak I felt like someone had filled my mouth with steel wool.

Because the Aguda Convention was both very large (around five thousand people) and it was a very distinguished gathering, I rehearsed my speech until I could “do it in my sleep”. Not that that left no room for improvisation and spontaneity, but I believe, like a gymnast or a musician, when you reach the point where things become automatic, you can go into a “state of flow”. Because your mind is relieved of all technical considerations, you can “fly”.

I’m happy to say the speech was well received, but at the end of the day, however much work you put in, finding chein (favor) in peoples’ eyes is something that comes only from G-d.

In this week’s Torah portion Aharon HaKohen has a “command performance” that leaves all teeth-chattering, palm-sweating appearances in the shade. Aharon has to perform in front of the most important “audience” in the universe — G-d.

An ordinary person having to light the Menorah in front of the Master of the Universe would lose all physical coordination, become a mass of quivering jelly and pour the oil all over the floor.

Aharon, however, “did so.” Aharon rose to the occasion and performed his task flawlessly.

  • Sources: based on the Kedushat Levi as seen in Mayana shel Torah