Do you underestimate yourself? If you were told that you have the potential to be righteous, would you reply: “Me? Impossible!”

But it isn’t impossible; the word itself says “I’m possible.”

There’s a shortage of righteous individuals. It’s a serious problem since they’re so in demand. Perhaps, you could be one.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re probably not there yet. I get it. But one thing is certain: You’ve got great potential. Sure, we all have flaws, but they’re meant to be overcome. Righteous individuals don’t start out that way. They aren’t perfect or all high achievers; they’re just ordinary people, determined to rise above their circumstances. When they do, extraordinary things can happen.

No one starts out knowing what they are capable of. Life will throw you a curveball, and then you’ll be faced with a turning point. A change will occur, and your modus operandi won’t be sustainable. “Same old, same old” will no longer describe you or your life.

We get some inspiration from the women in this week’s Torah portion. “In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed in Egypt.”1

Who were these righteous women? They were downtrodden slaves who rose above soul-crushing situations to do what had to be done. What was their merit? They initiated redemption from Egypt through their faith and commitment to ensure a Jewish future. The women of that time overcame great obstacles to act on their convictions. Overcome by physical and mental anguish, they courageously set out on a mission—to build the Jewish nation.

Jewish survival in Egypt seemed impossible. The men were exhausted and despondent. How could they consider bringing offspring into an existence of brutal enslavement? Yet resiliently, the women went to find their husbands in the fields. The men were broken, but their wives fed and encouraged them.

The women had polished sheets of copper that they used as mirrors. The Midrash tells us that each woman held a mirror so she could see herself and her husband’s reflection. She’d playfully say, “I’m more beautiful than you.” These determined women were committed to ensuring Jewish continuity for coming generations.

They made sure to appear desirable and attractive for their spouses and their own mental health. Lest it be misinterpreted as being vain or self-serving, these copper mirrors served a lofty, G‑dly, purpose. In Exodus (38:8), we’re told that the copper washing basin (kiyor) in the Tabernacle was made from the mirrors donated by the women. In fact, the mirrors were the only materials allowed to be used in the washing basin used by the priest (kohanim).

Unlike the other components of the Tabernacle, the washing basin had no specified dimensions or measurements. No mirrors would have to be turned away. This clearly illustrates how sanctified these mirrors were to G‑d and to the Nation of Israel.

Furthermore, the Torah states that upon experiencing the miracle of the Splitting of the Sea, the women sang and danced with tambourines to praise G‑d. Where did they get these tambourines? Rashi2 explains that even during the darkest times of suffering, the Jewish women had complete faith that G‑d would save them. So ready for salvation were they, that they actually fashioned their musical instruments in Egypt and brought them along when they fled. The tambourines were symbols of hope and belief in the coming redemption. This was the strength of the women who left Egypt.

It is unlikely that we’ll undergo enslavement such as our ancestors endured in Egypt, so what can you and I take away from their experiences? We can be more aware of how essential resilience and perseverance are throughout our lives. Likewise, faith and courage don’t suddenly appear; they must be developed over the course of time. You’ll need them in great measure throughout any personal crises you may encounter.

Righteous behavior is not exclusive to a specific person; potentially righteous individuals are to be found in every culture. In our global society, righteousness is multifaceted, expressed in various ways. However, the righteous are inclusive of others and will help you find the good in yourself. They think beyond the present and envision a better future. The righteous model how to become more of who we truly can be.

Now, let’s get back to you and me. In the present moment, how can you foresee who you could become? You’re not just needed; you are essential. Each of us has a central role in an unfolding process—more significant than we may know.

Our world needs more righteous people or, at least, more righteous acts. Like a global “domino effect,” they can uplift and ignite the hearts and souls of multitudes. One by one, we’ll all be impacted positively. Collectively, we can produce a better world that will reflect the unity and goodness for which we all yearn.

Making It Relevant

  1. Seek out mentors and role models you strive to emulate.
  2. What are some righteous character traits you’d like to develop? Identify and define them.
  3. Formulate a realistic plan to assist you in achieving your spiritual and character-building goals. Get started and put it into daily use.
  4. Recognize that character growth is an incremental, ongoing process. If you fall, get up and get back on track.