Story 1 – The year: 1933
Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany and announced his intention to annihilate the Jewish nation.
A couple with one daughter decides to pick themselves up and immigrate to Palestine.
Their parents and twelve siblings (from both sides) don’t understand
Where they have found the courage to leave a developed country like Germany
Where medical care is very good
And move to a “failing” region, filled with swamps and diseases.
“What jobs will you find there? How will you support yourselves?!”
The answer that the couple gave was loud and clear:
“Indeed, our lives here are comfortable. Extremely so.
But that is temporary…
Jobs? Everyone needs to eat. We’ll open a restaurant!”
So they did. They packed everything and moved to Haifa, the large port city in “Palestine.”
It wasn’t easy – not at all.
But it was nothing compared to what the rest of their family underwent in Europe…
We can’t judge either side in hindsight.
At that period in time, the thought of genocide (which took place a few years later, in the Holocaust)
Was an unfathomable concept.
From this large family, just two sisters survived.
The one who we mentioned here
And another sister who managed to escape the European inferno and reach the United States.
The first lesson in courage:
Courage is necessary to think ahead, to leave your comfort zone, to believe in yourself, To be prepared to work hard and pursue what you feel is right,
Even when those around you are convinced that you are wrong.
Story 2 – The year: 1961
The sister who escaped to the United States
Is marrying off her youngest daughter.
Two years later, this daughter tells her parents of their desire (her and her husband)
To move to the State of Israel.
This time, the argument is sharper. Poignant.
“We already went through one Holocaust in our family,” her mother claims
“How do you dare consider
Moving to a small country that is unable to protect itself,” she continues to ask.
“At least leave your two young children with us, here in the United States
So that something will be left of your family…”
These words still echo in the family’s subconscious (seventy years later!)…
Naturally, the young couple chose to live next to their aunt and uncle in the same city.
Later, that same couple paid a hefty price for insisting on their decision,
Receiving less financial support from their parents.
Essentially, their parents were not with them during those difficult times that they underwent.
After more than a decade, the entire immediate family decided
To move to live near them, in the same neighborhood in Haifa, Israel.
The second lesson in courage:
Sometimes, by making a decision, we pay a price.
We need to be brave in deciding which decisions to make and what price we are willing to pay.
Story 3 – The year: 1973
Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Hebrew nation’s calendar.
In the middle of the day, without any prior warning –
Rising and falling.
War has broken out.
The hearts beat furiously. What will happen? What will be?
People are summoned from the synagogue.
My father, too, must grab his bag and leave, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the fast…
Rushing to leave.
Leaving behind his family
To face life-threatening situations daily.
Goodbyes to friends who will never be seen again.
Disconnected from home for weeks,
Uncertain about if and when he will be able to hug his wife and children again.
The third lesson in courage:
There are times when the uncertainty is intense.
We need to be brave in order to function in these situations,
Despite the fact that we have not chosen for them to happen.
When they do happen, we learn to appreciate
Our routine and all of the precious gifts that we already have
So much more.
Story 4 – The year: 2016
I have a friend who is battling cancer again.
This is his second time fighting it.
A few years ago, he was able to overcome the disease
But as cancer sometimes does, it returned to plague him again.
I try to sit and learn with him every day.
It’s safe to say that he teaches me much more than I teach him…
“You know how sometimes, suddenly you feel overcome by lust – you don’t have control over it.
After a chemotherapy treatment, it can hit you. You need strength and intense willpower to fight it,”
He began to share with me honestly.
“I’m a happily married man, and I have two daughters, thank God,
And it’s really not for me at all, dealing with these desires.
This is something entirely strange for me.
”Before I could react,
He went to the bookcase and pulled out a small notebook.
“You know what I did every time I felt overcome by these desires?”
He asked, and without waiting for an answer, responded on his own,
“I looked into the eyes of that monster – and I spoke to it,
I waged a bitter, harsh battle with it!
I wrote it all down. Here it is,”
He pointed to the notebook and invited me to read.
I shuddered as I read his words.
It doesn’t matter what exactly he wrote,
The fact that a young man, not yet even 30 years old,
Has the courage to look death in the eye,
To understand the roller coaster of emotions that he is experiencing
To face it and deal with the challenge…
This is what teaches us how strong man’s spirit is, in contrast with the fragility of the physical body.
During those moments, I recalled an experience that my parents arranged
With that same uncle who emigrated from Germany in the 1930s.
He was on his deathbed at that point, from the same cursed disease,
And my parents wanted me to part with him. I was just six years old…
I remember the situation – him lying on the bed, barely able to speak
Smiling at me and saying his last farewell.
Two days later, my uncle passed away.
I won’t go into the details of the personal wishes I received at that last meeting
But I will say that I learned one of the most important lessons of my life.
Fourth lesson in courage:
Sometimes, it’s very hard to say something important to yourself or to someone close to you,
Harder than even leaving a country or family,
Harder than fighting on a battlefield or dealing with a disease.
Words that we do not say today may go unsaid forever!
Make an effort and talk sincerely to yourself; say what is in your heart.
This is the only way to grow.
Wishing you much Success & Courage life!
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