The Bible Says What? All hope is lost…or is it?!

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The Bible Says What? All hope is lost…or is it?!

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith takes a controversial topic form the Torah and looks at a progressive perspective

What does a Jew do when things seem pretty hopeless after hearing too much bad news? Or when our summer camps are having to send children home owing to positive Covid tests and our schools had to close early for the same reason?   

The Haftarot over the coming weeks up to Rosh Hashanah are known as the Haftarot of Consolation. They begin with the words from Isaiah Chapter 40:1: ‘Be comforted, be comforted, My people! Says your God.’ 

These words were originally spoken from the midst of the Babylonian exile when you might have thought all was lost for Judaism and for the hope of a good future.     

When everyone might have lost hope, Isaiah’s message, and a message repeated by many other prophets in the Tanach, was that a return to Jerusalem and a return for the Jewish people would definitely be possible – soon with God’s help and our action.   

This message has been heard during the years of the exile of the Jews from Spain and Portugal, the pogroms, persecution and oppressions, the restrictions upon Soviet Jewry and during the Nazi period – there is always hope for the future. 

As the French-Jewish writer Edmond Fleg wrote in 1927: “I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the Jew hopes.’’ The times we are living through are nowhere near as desperate as those experienced by our fellow Jews in the past, yet the same imperative is there. 

Always hope for the future because it is only with hope that there can be a good future. Look forward with hope, invest in our community with hope, be among those who act as God’s partners in building hope.

Mark Goldsmith is Senior Rabbi at Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue

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