Tonight we light again the two candles of Faith and Freedom, which we talked about last night, and then light the third candle of “Courage.” Part of the word “courage” comes from the French word, (coeur) “heart.” We find references to this in our everyday speech. We speak of a person’s strong heart, big heart, plenty of heart, and so on. Courage comes to our mind in many ways.
We sometimes think of a big, powerful man swinging a tremendous sword and cutting his way through scores of opponents. We think of a little man – a young boy armed with a slingshot – coming forth to meet a giant. We think of a poor boy, with no opportunity for real study, who develops his convictions and his courage and leads his country triumphantly through the greatest civil turmoil of its history. We think of a man crippled by disease who fights his way back to become one of the greatest men in history. We think of a little nation fighting to find its way to security.
And we think of so many things that may be running through our minds in connection with the word “Courage,” we see that courage consists sometimes of physical strength and fortitude; frequently of stubborn moral character; ofttimes of firm philosophical convictions.
We can have wonderful ideals, but they are meaningless if we do not have the courage to support them. We can have faith, but unless we have the courage to express it and stand up for it, it disintegrates. We can believe in freedom, but if we do not have the courage to live it or fight for it, it will cease to exist.
Again, let us reflect on how fortunate we are in our American and Jewish traditions to have so prominent a heritage of courage.
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)