There were thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Jews across many generations who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of God’s name, and only a fraction of them had lived lives of holiness.
On the contrary, it appears that even those who had never shown any propensity for matters of faith or holiness may have discovered in themselves something greater and more exalted than they could fully grasp: the need to sacrifice everything, including their lives, for the sanctification of God’s name.
These incidents do not involve great conscious clarity or a specific vision, but an epiphany whose relationship with the ethereal spheres is not always clear or rational.
And these epiphanies are sufficient to enable a person to determine what direction to take in extreme circumstances.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz