Updated: May 17
In this week’s double Torah portion, Behar-Behukotai, we read about an awesome kind of fear.
Leviticus 25:43 relates, “You must fear your God” and in Hebrew it says, “V’yarei’ta may’Elohecha.”
And, here, we must pay close attention to the translation. The word for fear is yarei—it is not really fear as in dread, but fear as in awe. We must be in awe of God. And in awe of life.
Sure, we each get anxious – but the challenge in those moments is to transform that fear into courage and hope. We’re not supposed to deny the feeling of fear, but instead we are to transform it with courage to a new appreciation.
Nelson Mandela once said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
In the spirit of this idea, our challenge is to reach beyond the shallowness of fear to a deeper understanding of our own resilience and hope in what may be in store for us beyond what we can see. Fear can be a positive, awe-inspiring, and humbling feeling. The challenge is to acknowledge our lack of control without letting anxiety overtake our lives.
To reach beyond our dread to a deeper hope for new possibilities—to have faith, that is the key. The world can be a scary place. May we each have the fortitude to push through and find our awe for this truth of humanity.
The above is a reflection by Rabbi Heather Miller on this week's double Torah portion, Parashat Behar-Behukotai, Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34. Please visit rabbiheathermiller.com to subscribe and follow on social media.