This Shabbat after the Fall Festivals the Jewish Nation begins once again the weekly reading from the Book of Genesis. In the Beginning brings us back to the need for a new start towards a better future.
Individually, we go back to the beginning because we must learn from the lessons of the past in order to become better people, spouses, parents, neighbors and friends.
As a nation we must go back to Genesis to find the courage and humility to engage in the soul-searching self-awareness needed to make some crucial corrections. It is back in the Book of Genesis that we can find our way forward to begin extracting ourselves from the political and moral quicksand into which we have sunk. In order to untangle ourselves from the divisiveness that has immobilized our society and government we must go back to In the Beginning where we can discover the audacity to hope for a better future.
It is here that we watch Adam and Eve after falling from grace and being banished from the Garden of Eden that they are confronted with their human frailty, and even though they are forced to sweat for survival through never-ending physical and emotional pain they somehow find strength to endure the alienation of a thorn-filled world.
Noah, too, after the unimaginable chaotic wave of global destruction must face a Brave New World alone with his family. And Abraham and Sarah separated from their home, birthplace and community face a world consumed with idolatry armed with just one God and a message of faith.
This is the beginning of the stories of our heroes that show us with their courage that we too can believe enough to start again and fight through to hope for a better future. To dare to face the impossible dream by getting up every morning and starting again.
More than any other people on the planet, Jews have faced the untethered cruelty of a fallen world and not only surviving we have flourished. We have even now returned to our homeland from which we will never again be uprooted, though we are only now once again at the beginning of our journey as a nation and people.
What the New Year holds we cannot know, but we can find the courage to face our future together. For it is the bravery of hope that will determine whether we are moving up or down the spiral “stairway to heaven” along the path of life. I, for one, choose hope for 5780.