Purim is just around the corner and as we get our baskets of goodies ready, we must read (and hear) the story again. If you only go to the synagogue to hear the Megillah read, you may miss all the amazing details in the story. The Jewish value we teach at the J for this holiday is courage, in Hebrew ometz lev. The most interesting thing about the Hebrew word is that it translates as “strength of heart.” It is not just about being strong in a physical way but doing the right thing when it is hard. More than that, it is also about doing something new and different. Here are a few sections from an article titled “Giving Ourselves Permission to Take Risks” by Elizabeth Jones. The article was written primarily for early childhood, but it is really a message for all of us.
“Courage, as we’ve learned from the Cowardly Lion, is a virtue that is hard to sustain. New experiences are often scary; we don’t know what will happen next or what we should do. Yet all new learning involves risk. We learn by doing — and by thinking about the past and the future.
“Risk is inevitable; it’s a requirement for survival. The challenge is to name it, practice it, enjoy the rush of mastery and bear the pain when pain is the outcome.
“A child who climbs may fall. But a child who never climbs is at much greater risk. Fall surfaces under climbers aren’t there to prevent falls, only to make them less hard. And hugging doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does make it more bearable.”
There are many calls today for courage, and we all must be willing to stand up for what is right even when it is scary. I remind families and staff that RISK is not a four-letter word to be avoided. Risk helps us grow whether we are 2 or 102. Let’s get ready for Purim by reading and digging deeper into the Purim story for the many examples of courage from Esther to Vashti!
Shabbat Shalom from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.