I'm generally anything but quiet, but in my heart of hearts I really do believe that I'm shy. My congregants might be amused by the claim, because I frequently resort to a confident persona to fulfil my rabbinic duties, but not so deep inside me is still the 10-year-old nerd who was bullied at school and whiled away his weekends hungering for friends.

We all have different personas that we don for public viewing; different from the wayWe all have different personas we think of ourselves when at home alone. We do our best to project an air of confidence, when, in truth, much of the time we feel anything but competent. We might take a big breath before plunging into a room full of people and trying to glad-hand our way through the crowd, but all the while the real you is silently hoping to slink around the side-walls and watch the spectacle, rather than become one of the featured attractions.

We are not hypocrites, just responding to the needs of the moment. If you're in business, you have to advertise; if you're looking for a partner, you have to be willing to dress up and date; and if your purpose in life is to promote Judaism, you've got to walk the walk and talk the talk, even as the internal doubts assail you.

But never lose sight of which personality is the real you and which is just a character you are playing on the great stage of life. You are your inhibitions, and holding on to the spark of authenticity will help you stay grounded.

Directly after descending upon Mt. Sinai and proclaiming the Ten Commandments, G‑d instructed, “An altar of earth you should make for Me.”1 In the Tabernacle, the copper altar on which they offered daily sacrifices to G‑d was grounded or filled with earth.2

“An altar of earth,” however, seems a strange way to describe this altar; to the naked eye, all that could be seen was the shiny copper surface. No one would even need to know the interior material. Why not describe it appropriately as a copper altar?

G‑d isWe all struggle with insecurity teaching us a crucial lesson: When presenting yourself in public, put on a happy face and take care to buff and polish your shiny exterior. But always remember that the real you is the simple, grounded base that lies beneath.

No one is precious metal all the way through; we all struggle with insecurity and shyness. But if we want to get anything done we have to will ourselves to perform on the big stage.

At the same time, always hold firm to the clarity and simplicity that keeps you grounded. G‑d sees the truth and He knows us for who we are inside. The purpose of life is to turn ourselves into an “earthen altar” on which we can offer ourselves to G‑d and transform our daily existence into an opportunity to bring Him into our lives.