There are always reasons to be afraid. The prevalence of danger can be incapacitating. The same inaction that afflicts a frightened individual can befall a people: Then optimism is really fear in disguise, and indolence is the result of feeling paralyzed by the possibilities of failure.
“We see intelligence seeking justifications for its fear, and finding them readily, for every cowardice has its own philosophy.” So said Albert Camus in “Homage to an Exile” almost 60 years ago. Speaking about a man “of freedom and courage,” Camus declared, “those who are like him must come toward him … and tell him straight from the heart that he is not alone and that his action is not futile, that there always comes a day when the palaces of oppression crumble, when exile comes to an end, when liberty catches fire.”
The world is full of perils but shrinking from them does not diminish them. The timid are not less often hurt, just less vividly alive. As Camus wrote in “Reflections on the Guillotine”: “Knowing you are going to die is nothing,” said a condemned man in Fresnes Prison. “But not knowing whether or not you are going to live, that’s terror and anguish.” In his final instructions to Joshua, Moses says, “Be strong. Have courage.”
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe
ADDITIONALLY, Rabbi David Wolpe, will be speaking at Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center on September 16 at 7:00 P.M. in a special Jewish Week program. He'll be joined in conversation with journalist and author, Abigail Pogrebin.
Their discussion will be on the debut of his provocative biography on Israel's legendary King David.
For additional information and to purchase admission please click HERE.
Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center is located at 10 East 66th Street, New York, NY.