Courage of Convictions: Part 1 – Convictions

Steve Rosenbaum posted recently about the top regrets people have on their death-beds and top of the charts was ‘a failure to live up to one’s values.’ Put into a well-known phrase this translates into ‘not having the courage of your convictions.’ What are your convictions? You will get different definitions depending on who you ask, but it seems that one of the main reasons we fail to live up to our values is because we don’t clarify them enough in our minds and we don’t internalize them enough into our hearts. We don’t own them and they don’t become an intrinsic part of us.

Rav Arush talks about the need for one to “clarify the truth in his own mind until it becomes crystal clear what is demanded of him in that area. It must be lucid and strong enough to dispel doubt and so decisive so that it won’t change in time. Once he knows unwaveringly that he has found the truth, nothing can weaken his determination to budge him from reaching his goal.” An example of someone who failed to build a stronger enough conviction for himself is Adam. “He heard from G-d himself that it is forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Had he believed in himself he wouldn’t have been tempted. He’d have proclaimed: The fruit is forbidden. That is the truth! What I heard from G-d is the one and absolute truth! Then and there the story would have come to a close with no dialogue and no negotiation!”

The flipside of this is the story of Yosef when he was tempted by Potifar’s wife. “None of the lady’s charms and threats could make him budge from the truth that she is forbidden to him. Joseph had complete faith in himself: This is what I have been taught! This is the truth! This is how I must behave!”

But convictions are only half the story. We might have have internalized something as totally true and we have 100% belief in it, but it doesn’t mean we’ll live up to it. That needs courage. More of that tomorrow…




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