When we think of the Exodus from Egypt, we often recount the midrashic tale of Nachshon ben Amminadav. According to the rabbis, when the Israelites reached the shore of the Sea of Reeds, Moses raised his staff, as God had instructed, in order to make the waters part. But nothing happened. With the sea roiling before them, and Pharaoh's charioteers quickly approaching the rear of the camp, the people began to panic. But Nachshon, the rabbis say, found the bravery to tread into the water, though the sea had not yet split. He waded in up to his knees, then his waist, then his nose. And slowly, people found themselves inclined to follow, and their collective show of faith in God finally made the waters part.
Certainly, it took courage for Nachshon to take those first steps. But what of the second Israelite who followed him? What of the final Israelite who stepped onto the dry seabed, seeing the Egyptians in hot pursuit?
Not all of us will be the trailblazers. But whether we undertake a task for the first time or the fiftieth, we can have pride in our accomplishments. For even the smallest action may represent an act of courage and faith. Having the courage to be different, to face a challenge, and to innovate, changes us. We transform from being mere spectators watching the world go by to being significant contributors, working in partnership with God to make this world a better place.
What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?