A Year of Hope and Optimism
In our current troubles, it seems that baseless hatred is becoming more widespread and toxic. Although it’s easy to be pessimistic about the upcoming year, there are powerful reasons to believe that redemption is imminent.
We are in the waning moments of the year, and it appears that, yet another one will conclude with the Jewish people still in exile. This past year has certainly seen its share of turbulence and tribulations.
We know that baseless hatred is the cause of our exile and current troubles. The surface impression is that baseless hatred is becoming more widespread and toxic. It’s all too easy to be pessimistic about the coming year. This is a big mistake!
Redemption is Imminent
There are powerful reasons to believe that redemption is imminent.
Firstly, Rabbi Elimelech Biederman notes that one man, Bar Kamtza, triggered a catastrophic chain of events that led to the destruction of the Holy Temple and the expulsion of our people from the Land of Israel. If one person can be responsible for all this destruction, one person can be responsible for so much good! That one person can be you! Your efforts to be a role model in interpersonal relations and your prayers for the Jewish people can have a dramatic impact! Your good deeds and prayers can unleash a powerful chain reaction in the positive direction!
Secondly, we should be aware that our prayers are not being said in isolation. Remember, these prayers are being added to the heartfelt prayers of millions of righteous people from prior generations. The Chofetz Chaim says we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Our individual incremental prayers evoke a massive cumulative impact. We are in the final sprint, and in our generation where everything is difficult and there is so much that is unholy going on around us, every tiny bit of holiness is worth exponentially more than previous generations!
Thirdly, Rabbi Shalom Arush stresses that every single word of prayer for every single Jew in the world is a mitzvah! There are about 15,000,000 Jews in the world, so each word brings about 15 MILLION mitzvot! You can easily manage a FEW BILLION mitzvot in just 5 minutes.
Therefore, don’t be discouraged that your prayers have not yet borne fruit. Rather, be highly motivated. Your prayers really can make a huge impact and be a decisive factor!
Rabbi Zevi Golombeck adds the following positive factors:
Today, there are more instances of loving kindness and ahavat Yisrael than ever before. We see selfless acts of chesed from individuals and organizations throughout the world. We should be encouraged by the sheer scope and volume of these compassionate initiatives.
Secondly, who’s to know if someone is really guilty of baseless hatred? We don’t know all the facts, nor do we know about a person’s emotional make-up, background, or upbringing. Perhaps this person’s lack of training or bad influences contribute to the untoward behavior we see. Hashem is a righteous judge, and he takes these factors into account in evaluating our collective status.
Finally, the Chofetz Chaim says 100% compliance is not a prerequisite. If there is a significant group of Jews who are working to subdue baseless hatred and who are strong in ahavat Yisrael this could be enough to tip the scales on the side of merit and result in Hashem deciding to send our Redeemer. Every one of us should strive to be part of this group!
A Personal Plan for the New Year
Let’s each create a personal plan of action to bring Redemption closer. For the New Year, let’s make it a daily goal to manage our interpersonal relations and speech in a way that promotes peace and harmony. Focus on one specific personal initiative. Let’s also devote some time each day to pray for the Jewish people.
Loving your neighbor must be more than just a generalized platitude. Every day we should look at our own personalized plan and evaluate ourselves. We should thank Hashem for our successes, rededicate ourselves to doing better the next day, and ask for His help.
Optimism is Essential
It’s imperative to cultivate a positive outlook to empower our prayers and motivate ourselves consistently to perform deeds of kindness and reconciliation. When we truly believe that things can be better, we put ourselves in a frame of mind to contribute to their getting better instead of getting worse.
We’ve now learned that our individual prayers and actions can be great difference makers. Therefore, we have ample justification to visualize the imminent arrival of our righteous King. It could happen very soon!
Rabbi Yitzhak of Skverer stated:
“Even if a trustworthy person came and told me in the name of Elijah the prophet that Mashiach will be coming tomorrow, I will not believe him for Mashiach can yet certainly come today!”