By Laura Seymour
We continue our exploration of tikkun olam. The Hebrew word tikkun means to “fix” or “heal” something that is broken; olam means “world.”
Tikvah, the mitzvah of hope, has been an important value for the Jewish people throughout many horrible times in history. We live with the conviction that things will be better. The words of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, remind us that we are still here as Jews because our ancestors never gave up hope.
Elie Wiesel said, “When all hope is gone, Jews invent new hopes. Even in the midst of despair, we attempt to justify hope.”
Mitzvah hero of today’s world: Anne Frank
On Anne Frank’s 13th birthday, she received a book with blank pages — a diary. She wrote about all kinds of things, but especially about the changes in her life when her family went into hiding.
Her father had prepared a few rooms in the back of his office building. The family lived in hiding for two years, yet Anne’s diary was filled with hope. Friends of the family risked their own lives to help the Frank family survive.
Anne wrote, “I am filled with joy … I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. Look at these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance.”
In our ancestor’s footsteps: Jeremiah
One of the earliest tragedies faced by our ancestors was the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. by King Nebuchadnezzar and his troops. It was a time of grief and despair for the Jewish people, and many went into exile.
The prophet Jeremiah lived through these events, and he criticized the Jews for bringing the bad things on themselves. Yet Jeremiah also gave a strong message of hope. He was confident that life would return to normal. Jeremiah told the people not to feel abandoned and that Jerusalem would be restored.
Jeremiah spoke in God’s name: Houses, fields and vineyards shall again be purchased in this land. I will bring them back to this place and let them dwell secure. They shall be My people, and I shall be their God.
The information for this summer’s weekly themes comes from “Jewish Heroes Jewish Values — Living Mitzvot in Today’s World” by Barry L. Schwartz, published by Behrman House, Inc., 1996.
Family talk time
- A hope for something is like a wish, and there are lots of things that we wish/hope for — even some things we know we will never have. Let each family member share what they hope for and why.
- What is the difference between having a dream and working toward your dream? Do some things just happen without work? Is it important to have a dream, even if it seems a long way off?
- Why is hope important? Have you ever hoped for something that seemed really impossible? What does it mean to have hope even when things seem really bad? How can we hope at those times?
Laura Seymour is director of youth and camping services at the Aaron Family JCC.