Courage is necessary to get through certain moments in each of our lives.  For some it takes courage to meet new people or walk alone into a party.  For others it’s a job interview or moving to a new place.  There are those who have an abundance of courage and those who have it in short supply.  But what makes courage possible is self-confidence — a positive self-image and a belief that things will turn out all right.

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses chooses twelve men to go to the Promised Land to see whether it is conquerable and inhabitable. Ten of the men come back saying that it’s not possible to conquer the land because they perceive that giants live there. Two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, come back saying, “We can do it”. They are ready to fight.  The ten men who lack courage see themselves as very small, saying they are as “grasshoppers” in the eyes of the inhabitants of the land, and in their own eyes as well. They lack the self-confidence it takes to do what is required.

To enable our children to have a positive self-image and to develop a sense of the courage to live through frightening moments, we need to encourage (en-courage!) their efforts at trying new things and meeting new people.  This doesn’t mean approving of everything they do. But it does mean cheering them on as they try on their own wings of independence and go forth into their own world. Whether it is the first day at a new school or skiing for the first time, it will require courage and a positive self-image to get through frightening moments.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about courage and their self-image.


  • Where do you think courage comes from?
  • Are there times you can think of when you wish you had more courage?
  • Where do you think self-confidence comes from?
  • Is there a difference between courage and self-confidence? What is it?

By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.