It was only after the Ten Plagues had re-enforced the Jewish People's belief and trust in the Almighty that the Jewish People went into the Red Sea with full faith that G-d would save them.
In the period before World War II, a gang of thieves in Warsaw concocted a novel method of robbing its victims of their hard-earned savings. They would approach a potential victim, say, Stefan, and offer him a suitcase full of counterfeit fifty-zloty notes that they had just printed on their brand new, sophisticated printing press.
"They're perfect; just look," they told Stefan, offering him a sample. "Just take it down the street to the bank and see what they say about it."
The bank teller took the note, held it up to the light, and accepted it as valid legal tender. Stefan asked him for smaller bills and some small change in return, pocketed the money, and left with a smile on his face.
Delighted at the prospect of fantastic profits, Stefan went back to his contacts, and closed a deal to purchase a thousand fifty-zloty notes for thirty percent of their face value.
"Give me two days to get the cash together," he said. "I'll meet you right here, at two p.m. on Wednesday. You bring me fifty-thousand in your notes, and I'll pay you fifteen thousand in real bills."
The men shook on the deal and parted ways. Stefan sat down to work out just how he would get hold of fifteen thousand zlotys in forty-eight hours. Over his wife's objections, he took six thousand zlotys – all of their savings – out of the bank. He spent the rest of the day running to friends and relatives and borrowing the rest of the sum. So elated was he at the prospect of his new wealth that he did not even bother to report ill to his boss at the factory. Now that he was about to become rich, what difference if they fired him?
Wednesday night, shaking with excitement, Stefan was there on the spot with the cash, all stuffed into a large overnight bag. It seemed too good to be true. All he would need to do now was to pay back nine thousand zlotys that he had borrowed, using the counterfeit bills, and then pocket forty-one zlotys for him to keep. What a windfall! His dreams were coming true!
The two thugs appeared to be calmer. “Did you bring the cash?” they asked Stefan.
"Yes, it's all in here," answered the about-to-be tycoon. "You can count it out if you like."
"Fine," answered the taller man. "We'll do just that. Meanwhile, here's your money; you can count it out if you like."
All three men set to work counting out the money. When all was found to be in order, Stefan suddenly had a thought. He turned to the men with a question.
"How do I know that these bills are of the same high quality as the sample you showed me two days ago?"
"No problem," answered the younger thug. He pointed to the piles of bills arrayed on the table. "Choose any three bills you like and take them to the bank. Have them check the money out. Take your time; we'll wait for you here."
"Okay," said Stefan. He quickly took three bills at random from the bills he had just counted out, and went off to the bank. "I'd like to change these for ten-zloty notes," he told the teller.
Without a word, the teller checked the bills. Then he handed Stefan fifteen ten zloty notes. "Here you are, sir. Will there be anything else?"
"No, thank you," said Stefan, hoping no one else could hear his thumping heart. "A good day to you," he added with a nod, as he pocketed the bills. Then he hurried off to collect his new fortune.
"Everything all right?" asked the men when he returned.
"Fine," he nodded, as he started to pack his fifty-thousand zlotys into the bag he had brought with him.
"I hope it's not too heavy to carry alone."
"You'll manage," the older man told him. "It's not every day you close a deal like this one."
The two men had finished packing their payment into their suitcase. With a wave of the hand, they bid Stefan a good day, and left with their cash.
Three minutes later, Stefan was also ready to leave. He checked again that the case was safely closed. It wouldn't do to have it suddenly open on the street. Then, adjusting the cap on his head, he went to the door, looked to the right and the left, and stepped out with his newfound wealth.
He chose a side route to make his way home. The bills seemed to be of the highest quality, but it paid to be careful, he told himself. '
Suddenly a burly policeman stopped him in his tracks. "Step over here!" he barked. Stefan thought he would faint on the spot. The officer grabbed his arm and pulled him roughly into a side alley. He stopped next to a deserted bench. "Now just what are you carrying about in that suitcase?" he bellowed.
"Money," Stefan answered in a hoarse whisper.
"Let me see it!" demanded the officer of the law.
Without waiting, he grabbed the case out of Stefan' grasp and, laid it down on the bench.
"Money! No doubt it's all counterfeit. How much is in here?" the officer wanted to know. He opened the bag and bent over the bills to count them.
Without another thought, Stefan took to his feet and fled. The constable didn't even try to stop him.
So it was that the gang's latest victim arrived back home, grateful for having saved his skin from the law, but with nary a copper to his name. His life savings were gone; even worse, he now had an impossible burden of debt that it would take most of lifetime to repay.
The "policeman" took Stefan' case of bills, and returned to the gang's headquarters. "It's all here," he told his partners. "Fifty-thousand zlotys." Then he took off his uniform and stashed it away until it would be needed for the next victim.
The gang had "sold" Stefan fifty-thousand real zlotys; there never were any counterfeit bill involved in the whole plot. The bank had certified the bills as valid because that was just what they were – genuine fifty zloty notes issued by the National Bank of Poland. The "policeman" was the only counterfeit item in the scheme. He had been tipped off by the two thugs, and ambushed Stefan as he was leaving with his new wealth. The gang counted on his fleeing the minute an authority of the law stopped him, and leaving the cash with the law rather than risking arrest.
How could they be so sure that Stefan wouldn't protest his innocence? After all, he had taken a sample to the bank two times, and seen each time that the teller could not find anything wrong with the bills he presented.
And why, indeed, didn't Stefan challenge the officer who stopped him and claim that the bills were authentic?
Because he was not absolutely, one-hundred per cent convinced that the bills would pass inspection. He believed them to be high-quality imitations that probably would pass the test, but he could not be completely certain of it.
The gang's other victims responded in a similar fashion. Because of their slight doubts, when it came to a confrontation with the law, they instinctively fled rather than standing up for their innocence.
Such is human nature: When a person is not totally convinced of the truth, he will flee rather than stand up and fight. "Fifty percent" faith is not enough. Nor is even eighty or ninety percent. Only one hundred percent, solid belief will stand up when under stress.
When Moses first gathered the Jewish People and told them that Heaven would redeem them from their servitude and suffering, he performed the signs just as G-d had commanded him. He cast his staff to the ground and it became a serpent. When he grasped the serpent by the tail, as commanded, it again became a staff. All in all, G-d gave Moses three signs to perform. (See Exodus, Chapter Four.)
Moses performed these signs to prove that it was, indeed, the Almighty who had sent him to redeem Israel from Egypt. The verse tells us that the people believed him.
Nonetheless, when it came time to petition Pharaoh to release the Jewish People, the Elders were too timid to accompany Moses into the palace and to appear before Pharaoh with him.
Like Stefan in the story of the "counterfeit" bills, they were not fully confident that Moses's mission would be successful.
Later, with the actual exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea, the people were totally convinced beyond all doubt, as the verse tells us:
"And they believed in G-d, and in Moses, His servant..." (Exodus 14:31)