“If a person uses broken vessels, it is considered an embarrassment. But God seeks out broken vessels for his use, as it says, ‘God is the healer of shattered hearts.’ Vayikra Rabba 7:2
We live in a broken time; lives have been taken, jobs have been lost, and faith in our institutions has waned.
At times I think the last of these broken realities is perhaps the harshest of all. As a well-known saying goes: “Man
can live 40 days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope.” The great psychologist and Survivor of the Shoah, Victor Frankel, reflected as much in his landmark book Man’s Search for Meaning: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.” And what was that way? The way was to maintain a sense of hope, and from that would spring our yearning for life and its meaning. Meaning can be found through giving something back to the world, altering our attitudes. Many of his thoughts found expression in his practice of Logotherapy.
Some practical suggestions were articulated by the writer Arlin Cuncic. She urges that we apply these efforts our daily lives:
• Create something for creating something (e.g., art) gives you a sense of purpose.
• Develop relationships. The supportive nature of spending time with others will help you to develop more of a sense of meaning in your life. (more difficult in this Zoom world)
- Find purpose in pain. If you are going through something bad, try to find a purpose in it. If a family member is going through medical treatments for a disease, view your purpose as being there to support that person.
- Understand that life is not fair… However, life can always have meaning, even in the worst of situations.
- Focus on others. Try to focus outside of yourself to get through feeling stuck about a situation.
Our people have from time immemorial been practiced in looking for hope. No mistake that the National Anthem of Israel and of all Israel is Hatikva – The Hope. I pray we will all find hope in the New Year – the time of renewal, a time of anticipation for a better world, a world that God dreamed of us creating from the beginning of time. May the words of the Psalmist resonate in each and every heart! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7)
L’Shana Tova Tikateivu!
May you be written for goodness in the coming year 5781!
Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz D.D.