Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Courage in the Face of Terror

That's the name of the game. The Jews here in the land of Israel, thank God, have shown and are continuing to show their courage in these times of bloodthirsty Arab terrorism.

In his epic code of Jewish law, Maimonides explains that a person, in respect to character traits, should look for "the straight path":

This [involves discovering] the midpoint temperament of each and every trait that man possesses [within his personality.] This refers to the trait which is equidistant from either of the extremes, without being close to either of them.

Therefore, the early Sages instructed a man to evaluate his traits, to calculate them and to direct them along the middle path, so that he will be sound {of body}.

For example: he should not be wrathful, easily angered; nor be like the dead, without feeling, rather he should [adopt] an intermediate course; i.e., he should display anger only when the matter is serious enough to warrant it, in order to prevent the matter from recurring. Similarly, he should not desire anything other than that which the body needs and cannot exist without, as [Proverbs 13:25] states: "The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul."

Also, he shall not labor in his business except to gain what he needs for immediate use, as [Psalms 37:16] states: "A little is good for the righteous man."

He should not be overly stingy nor spread his money about, but he should give charity according to his capacity and lend to the needy as is fitting. He should not be overly elated and laugh [excessively], nor be sad and depressed in spirit. Rather, he should be quietly happy at all times, with a friendly countenance. The same applies with regard to his other traits.

This path is the path of the wise. Every man whose traits are intermediate and equally balanced can be called a "wise man."

In another work (Commentary on the Mishnah, chapter 4 of the introduction to Pirkei Avot), Maimonides specifically states that courage is a "middle path" trait, lying between cowardice and being fearless. Adopting the character trait of courage, along with the other medial character traits, is a mitzvah:
We are commanded to walk in these intermediate paths - and they are good and straight paths - as [Deuteronomy 28:9] states: "And you shall walk in His ways."

Somebody wrote that, "The streets of Jewish West Jerusalem are eerie and still." Well, Jerusalem is a big city, and I do not know what street he was refering to. All I know is that while things may be less bustling than usual, people are still going to synagogue, to work and to anywhere else they need to be. After all, this is not the first wave of terror for most of us. There is a hightened state of alertness. Some of us are taking extra precautions. But eerie and still streets? Not in my neighborhood!

It's a privilege to be here at this time. It's a privilege to be a part of this courageous nation.

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