Change Towards More Optimism
by Rabbi Laurence Malinger
The month of Elul is a time for personal reflection and growth. It is essential to approach this time with a genuine desire for positive change. Hope is an active spiritual quality that we can cultivate during Elul. As we begin to recite Psalms 27 over and over again, the last line(27:14) is a call towards hope: Kaveh El Adonai - Look unto God, Chazak V’ya’ametz Libecha – be strong and of good courage, V’Kaveh El Adonai – O look unto God. Note that the verse actually tells us not to hope once, but twice. Hoping is hard work - this verse assumes that we will try to look for the light, and something will get in the way of us walking towards it, so we’ll need to look harder. Hope is born out of the vulnerability of trying once, struggling through it, and hoping again. The words of Jeremiah (31:17) on the second day of Rosh HaShanah proclaim that God declares there is a hope for your future. Let’s make it our practice for this new year of jumping in and trying to hope, even when we’re not sure if we’ll succeed. Let’s make it a year being curious instead of negative when our instinct is to shake our heads or dismiss. A year of knowing that every single act--between us and our fellow human beings and between us and God, are an opportunity to be surprised by the goodness that can come out of it.