Hope and Optimism 5781

It is customary to add a Psalm to our prayers during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah.  The Psalm is Chapter 27 and is one of most beautiful prayers in the book of Psalms.

“A Psalm of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, my enemies and my adversaries, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, even then I will be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; under the cover of his tent shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies around me; therefore I will offer in his tent sacrifices of joy; I will sing, I will make music to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice; be gracious to me, and answer me. Of you my heart said, Seek my face; Your face, O Lord, will I seek! Hide not your face from me; put not your servant away in anger; you have been my help; do not abandon me, nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path, because of my enemies. Do not give me up to the will of my enemies; for false witnesses have risen up against me, and they breathe out violence. Were it not that I believe I should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Hope for the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; and hope for the Lord.”

One of the most interesting features of this Psalm is the optimism, hope and courage that is expressed and encouraged. Even though we are approaching the Day of Judgement and the Day of Atonement, we are optimistic. We trust in God’s love for us, we trust in His justice and compassion and we hope for Him. Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, once said that Jews don’t have the luxury to be pessimists.  Indeed the miracle of the building of the State of Israel and of the building of Jewish homes and communities around the world by Holocaust survivors is a testimony to the incredible optimism and hope that Jews possess.  Reading the news, things don’t look good; sometimes looking at ourselves in the mirror, we don’t look very good.  One thing that the Psalm tells us is that we as God’s people always look good to Him, and we are optimistic that He will grant us a happy and sweet New Year.

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