In a pivotal scene in the book of Exodus, Moses and Israelites have a problem. They are standing at the shores of the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army is closing in. They freeze.
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Then Moses turns to God and pleads. “What should we do?” he asks.
God then says, “Don’t ask me. Why are you stopping? Go forward!  March!” According to Jewish tradition, Moses had turned to God expecting God to intervene and stop Pharaoh’s army or split open the sea right away.
God does no such thing. God simply says, “Don’t stop. Keep going. Take the next step forward.” Even with their fear and trembling, the Israelites do so. Soon the sea parts and they march to freedom.
Reliving the Exodus
I thought of this story when I read the remarkable account of the three Americans in France who stopped a deadly terrorist attack aboard a passenger train. When they heard screams and gunshots, they did not freeze. They did not put their heads down and expect someone else to act. They stepped forward.

We err if we assume the three men were not afraid. As noted in subsequent accounts, they felt fear. They did not think themselves. invincible. Yet, they acted. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is, as John Wayne once put it, having fear and choosing to “saddle up” anyways.
God willing, we will not confront a situation like the one they did. But can we learn from their heroism and apply insight into our own lives? Absolutely. We can aim for the following:
1. Be prepared: Yes, I know that it is the model of the Boy Scouts. It is also good wisdom for living.
While the American heroes did not expect a terrorist attack, two of them were trained soldiers. One of them was a specialist in the martial arts. They knew what to do in dangerous situations.
Whatever we do—whether we are a teacher, an accountant, a parent—we can prepare for times when we will have to make quick decisions. We can prepare for times when we have to act instinctively. The more prepared we are for what to expect, the more focused we can be in responding to the unexpected.
2. Listen to your gut (but don’t act from your gut): When the three men hear the AK-47, they knew they had to act. But they did not immediately jump and charge. They coordinated as a team, and their momentum and the element of surprise brought in other passengers to assist them.
Their actions combined the reflexive and reflective parts of the brain. The reflexive part runs on adrenaline. It’s what piques our senses and pushes us to our feet.
The reflective part thinks. It plans and coordinate. We are at our best when the two work together.
3. Everyone can be a hero (but don’t think about being a hero): The three men did not think becoming heroes. They thought about saving their lives and the lives of others.
Heroism is not something we can plan or anticipate. Shakespeare once wrote, “Some men are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them.” Heroes usually have their heroism thrust upon them.
In the Exodus story, one of the heroes is a simple man named Nachshon. According to the Jewish sages, Nachshon was the first Israelite to step into the Red Sea.
He took the first step, and then kept walking and walking. When the water reached his eyes, the sea split, and he led the Israelites across to freedom.
We may not all become heroes like Nachshon and the three men in France. But each of us can keep on walking.
Rabbi Evan

I show the way Jewish wisdom make our lives richer and happier. In particular, I help Jews appreciate their heritage and Christians uncover the Jewish roots of their faith. Get my FREE Jewish holidays cheat sheet by clicking here.

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