The following is the introduction to the unit on the value of Courage.
What does it mean to be courageous; to live boldly? When we are typing and we want to highlight an idea we put it in bold. It’s the same old word, just made brighter, bigger, more pronounced. So too, a bold life is one that stands out. It is outstanding.
What is the Jewish vision of an outstanding life?
From the time that we are young, we are taught, most emphatically, what society expects of us. A constant stream of messaging instructs us on what to speak, what to silence; what to deny, what to allow; what to wear, what to fear; who to be and how to be it. As we grow older we hardly even notice the constrictions of these conventions, they are so essential to who we have become. After all, everyone else is doing it. After all, itis how I have always been. To challenge societal norms, based on one’s values, can court disapproval, rejection, even punishment.
We may risk our relationships or our reputations. Not only does the society around us place expectations, conventions and limits upon us – we must also contend with our internal conventions and limitations as well. We may be naturally quiet or loud, reserved or social. So often we default to chosen ways of being that are within our comfort zones. We chose these ways of being not out of calling, but out of comfort. When a situation asks us to act outside of our default ways of
being it can be terrifying for us to do so. To break with norms, from within or without, is a fearful proposition indeed. It takes courage, boldness, and a good dose of holy chutzpa to make the leap.
This month we are talking about learning to live life with courage. We’ll explore the value of holy boldness known in Hebrew as azut d’kedushah. Sometimes called holy audacity or holy chutzpah, azut d’kedushah is when, for a purpose larger than ourselves, we overcome conventions in the society around us, or our own internal limits to move beyond our comfort zones to do the just and courageous thing.
We turn to the Purim story as our guiding text in living boldly. Purim commemorates a victory over our enemies – both within and without. As we will see, the heroine of the story, QueenEsther, stands out as a stellar role model for living boldly and acting with azut d’kedushah. She both violated the norms around her at great risk AND acted in a way that defied her nature, all in order to save her people. Save them she did.
We, like Esther, use our azut d’kedushah when we pursue higher goals, overcoming the conventions and obstacles that stand in our way. All of us are fighting our own battles; we all containEsther’s spiritual DNA and with it the capacity to activate our own courage to overcome the hurdles that get in our way.
The Year of Growth book enriches the Momentum year-long journey. Most Partner Organizations build on Year of Growth resources to deepen group learning. Mothers use the book to share learning with friends and family and to bring the learning back to their children.
Year of Growth is given in Israel to all Momentum trip participants in English, Russian, Spanish, or Hebrew as of 2020.