Irrepressible Optimism (The Wisdom of the Talmud – Mussar)

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Human beings are hopeful by nature. For instance, we go into business with little more than a dream that “somehow we will succeed.” Likewise, we should be optimistic that HaShem will help us, for He promises “My salvation is imminent.”

Yet, for some reason, our hope in HaShem that all will be good is uncertain. The following passage sheds light on the challenge of faith.

The People of Israel asked Balaam, “When will our redemption take place?” Balaam responded, “I see that it will not occur for a long, long time.”

HaShem then said to Israel, “Why are you relying on his opinion? Don’t you realize that he is totally immersed in the negative impulse? He doesn’t want the redemption to take place!”.

Rather than asking him, you should emulate your ancestor Yaacov, who said, “I hope for Your deliverance, HaShem!  Hope for salvation – for it is close at hand!” (Shemos Raba 30:24)

Balaam did not hope for the redemption because he was enmeshed in the darkness and despair of the yetzer hora, i.e., the negative impulse. Consequently, we see that a person’s level of trust in HaShem’s deliverance is proportional to his life orientation. The more he is ensnared in the negative impulse, the less hopeful he is.

The Chofetz Chaim used a clever strategy to instill dynamic belief. He bought a special suit to wear when the me’shi’ach would arrive. He kept this suit ever ready in his closet – and his fiery hope alive in his heart.

Yaacov Avinu met every crisis with the maxim, “I hope for Your deliverance, HaShem!” So too, we have the opportunity torevitalize our hope in HaShem so that it will be vibrant and robust.

May we all be hopeful for an immediate redemption, a time of light, peace, and joy! (based on Michtav M’Eliyahu, 5).

Today: Awaken your hope that HaShem is there for you – now and forever.

Copyright © 2010 by  Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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