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On Jewish Optimism

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Has optimism ever been given a stronger voice?

Malbim notes that of all the pleas uttered before God during the Days of Awe, the Jew pleads most determinedly for the one thing that will enable him to overcome all other spiritual obstacles – to become totally attached and one with God.

“The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” When I sense that I can grasp God’s hand, as it were, “even though an army were arrayed against me, my heart would not fear; though war shall arise against me, still would I be confident.”

Among the students coming in for a new year at college was a young man on crutches who was particularly friendly and optimistic. He won many academic honors and the deep respect of his classmates. One day, a classmate asked the cause of his deformity.

“Infantile paralysis,” the young man answered directly.

“With a misfortune like that, how can you face the world so confidently?” the classmate asked, astonished.

The young man managed a shrug while leaning on his crutches. “The disease,” he said simply, “never touched my heart.”

We all have limitations. We ache. We fear. We tremble. We feel lost in this world. But let us, this holy season, resolve not to allow these to touch our hearts.

“Hope, be strong, and be brave.”

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran serves as OU Kosher’s vice president of communications and marketing.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.

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