The Torah is full of heroes. There are so many stories about good guys overcoming bad guys. But, just as Covid–19 has helped us focus on the unsung heroes of the NHS and the key workers, I had a thought: “Let’s focus on our unsung heroes.” It’s true that we have started celebrating our bin men and postmen, whom we barely even noticed until now. But what about the unsung heroes in the Torah?
Miriam. Yes, the six-year-old girl Miriam. She follows her brother Moses as he is thrown into the water at the tender age of three months. She stands, waiting in the reeds, to see what happens. A true heroine – not looking for recognition or status, without any inkling that her caring deed for her brother would be written for all time in the Torah.
Daniel. He went into the lion’s den, purely to stay true to what he believed. Again, he had no idea his actions would be recorded for posterity. He was a true hero when others would have collapsed from fear.
Abraham. Of course, the patriarch Abraham, who was beset with trials and tribulations, but never ceased bringing the knowledge of God’s existence and kindness into the world. He fed complete strangers, bringing divine sparks of kindness to the entire human race, not just to his own family.
These are three distinct levels of heroism.
Charity must begin at home, and Miriam’s heroic act was clearly born out of sisterly love.
Daniel stood up for his faith and the Jewish people, and became a hero for our nation.
But Abraham is the patriarch and, with his heroism, he cared for all of God’s creation, regardless of skin colour or belief. This is the spark of heroism we are celebrating in the NHS and those brave soldiers on the front lines. In the same way that Covid-19 does not discriminate between class and colour, neither do they. True Torah heroes.
◆ Rabbi Benjy Morgan is the chief executive of Jewish Learning Exchange