February 27, 2020

The Audacity of Hope: Raising Little Messiahs.

“Seventy years ago these beautiful men would likely have been members of the Nazi party” emailed me a friend while watching Germany battle for the World Cup. 

I saw another perspective.  As I watched many fellow Jews cheer for Germany, I realized one day peace is possible.

Imagine Schindler telling the Jews he saved “In a few decades you will be proudly driving German cars, vacationing in Germany with your family, and one day soon you will be celebrating Germany’s win in the World Cup.”  How absurd.  And yet…

Growing up in Iran, my grandmother would always push me “Make sure you pray twice a day, when you wake up and before you go to sleep.  You know, you might be the one!  The Messiah will come from our little town of Shushan (Hamedan, Iran) the resting place of Ester and Mordechai.” 

My grandmother grew up at a time when women were not allowed to study.  She was never a Bat-Mitzvah.  She was not even allowed to touch the Torah.  Yet her faith was stronger than the men who bowed at the right phrase without conviction.

One of only four questions we are asked at the end of our lives, our tradition tells us, is “Did you despair?”  Paradoxically, at times, despair feels good.  Self-pity allows us to shrug off responsibility and unload ourselves of the plight of the world.  But we are here to heal, not to hide.

We are not allowed to give up; to despair is to make an idol of evil and forgo faith in God’s goodness and purpose in this world. 

“How do I become the one?”  I asked my grandmother.  “Become a doctor,” she urged.  “Each time you save a life,” she proclaimed like a Talmud scholar “is as if you saved the entire world.”

Each time my wife gave birth, I thought “could s/he be the one?” 

I am not sure I subscribe to a Messiah, but in our broken world, what if each of us raised a little Messiah?  What if each family raised a child to save a life?  What if The Messiah is the sum of all of our children, Jews, Christian, Muslim, or simply…human? 

In the end Love will win,
Light will pierce darkness.
Though the dust of hate settles in the night,
The morning dew will wash away your tears.

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