The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion. — Proverbs 28:1
Sarah, a Holocaust survivor, shared with me how she managed to survive. Sarah was a young teenager when her family heard that the Nazis were coming to take all Jewish girls between the ages of 18 to 20 to work in forced labor camps. The family had an 18-year-old daughter, Feiga, who they sent away so that she might be saved. Fearing that Sarah might be mistaken for Feiga, they hid her in a crevice in the wall of the family home.
When the Nazis came demanding that Feiga be handed over, the parents tried to explain that Feiga was not living with them. The Nazis didn’t buy the story and began to hit and beat the parents. Sarah could hear everything that was going on. In an act of courage to save her parents, Sarah burst forth from the wall and said, “I am Feiga. Take me.” Ironically, Sarah was the only one from her family to survive the war. Feiga was eventually caught and killed with the rest of her family by the Nazis.
Sarah’s courage saved her life, but it was not easy. Still, she was following in the footsteps of great men and women who had gone before her. Abraham, who was willing to leave his homeland to a new unknown place; Moses, who was brave enough to demand that Pharaoh let God’s people go; Mordecai, who refused to bow to Haman; Esther, who was bold enough to approach the king unsummoned though it could mean her death; Ruth, who had the courage to ask the wealthy widower Boaz to take her as a wife. All of these great biblical figures had courage, lived boldly, and it made all the difference in the world.
Because of their actions, a new people were formed, a new nation was founded and preserved, and a new family line was formed from which the messiah will come.
In Proverbs we read, “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” The Jewish sages explain that the wicked are easily frightened because they do not have faith in God. Instead, they live in a scary world where life is vulnerable, random, and devoid of purpose, plan, or meaning. The righteous, on the other hand, know that their lives are in God’s hand. They can live boldly knowing that God has their back.
Translated from the original Hebrew, in this verse the righteous are compared specifically to a young lion. The young lion is confident because it knows that its father is a full-grown lion, mighty and powerful.
Know today that you are a lion or a lioness, son or daughter, of the most mighty King. Live boldly and step out in faith. Where there is trust in God, there is courage, and where there is courage, all things are possible.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President