Ometz Lev – Courage
Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek” — Be strong, be strong, and of good courage (literally: may we strengthen one another)

Remember the childhood book, The Little Engine that Could? “I think I can, I think I can…” This book teaches the value of ometz lev – courage, perseverance, and positive thinking.
In this week’s Torah reading, Moses sends twelve spies to scout out the Promised Land and report what they find there. Ten report that while the land is flowing with milk and honey, the people were stronger than the Israelites and would “devour its settlers.” Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, nonetheless encouraged the people, realizing that they would be protected by God. They told the Israelites, “Have no fear…” But the people lacked the courage to listen to Joshua and Caleb and instead railed against Moses and Aaron.

This week’s mitzvah is ometz lev, literally courage of the heart. Ometz lev requires us to find within ourselves the courage to face our fears. This week’s Torah portion teaches us that God is our Divine partner in getting us through those difficult times we all face in life. Some choices require us to summon the courage to do what we know we should: making that doctor’s appointment we’ve been putting off, because we fear the report; making amends with an old friend or relative; sometimes simply doing the right or moral thing, even though it would be easier or safer to make a different choice.

What risks will you take this week? What will require courage on your part – in your communal responsibilities, hope and optimism at home, or your interpersonal relationships? Look for opportunities to make the courageous choice.