“We keep trying and yet for some reason we seem to be getting nowhere.” I’m hearing a lot of that lately, especially with the current state of the world and its relationship with the Jewish people. We experience a period of hope, things might be going well for a brief stretch, and then everything collapses. There’s another antisemitic incident and the gains we seem to have made dissipate once again.
We’re praying, doing mitzvot in honor of our brothers and sisters in Israel and especially the hostages, but we just can’t seem to be getting to the finish line. In fact, the more we do, the louder the noise from the other side seems to become. Every “feel good” Jewish moment seems to followed by something less than ideal — another devastating piece of news, another public figure saying something antisemitic, another college campus overrun by haters, and worst of all, 240 hostages are still missing since the October 7th attack.
So do we continue doing this? Do our prayers and mitzvot really help? What exactly are we hoping for in this hope against hope?
The answer can be found in the 4,000 year history of the Jewish people. Perseverance always pays off even if at first, or at many firsts, it doesn’t seem that way. Our ancestors have had serious ups and downs throughout their lives, and despite the harshest of realities, the light at the end of the tunnel eventually appeared.
The Torah describes our patriarch Isaac as being a well-digger, providing water for all travelers along the many roads in the Land of Canaan (the future Land of Israel). The nearby Philistines had it in for Isaac, and they kept stealing the wells from him and taking control of them for their own benefit. In true Jewish form, Isaac didn’t give up. He kept digging new wells, creating new avenues for travelers to be hydrated, until finally the Philistines recognized who they were up against and accepted Isaac’s superiority and ownership of the wells.
Isaac’s persistence in the face of adversity proved to be the cornerstone of his accomplishments. He looked evil in the eye and was determined to overpower it. He didn’t give up after the initial disappointment, and even after things were looking bleak he persevered and kept going until his adversaries acknowledged that he was in the right. Staying focused on his goal allowed him to keep at it, knowing that the truth was on his side and would eventually prevail. He didn’t “hope for the best,” he knew with certainty that by continuing to dig, he would succeed.
As we face similar challenges in today’s world, the temptation to give up is strong. We’ve had enough, we are tired, how much more can we be subjected to as a people?
The answer is that giving up is simply not in the cards. We don’t stop being Jewish because people don’t like us, and we don’t stop displaying our Jewishness proudly because it makes some people uncomfortable. Jews have always been a courageous people, and in today’s environment we need to be putting more of our courage on display, not less.
Toning things down would be handing our haters exactly what they want — a weaker Jewish people. Instead, we pledge to grow stronger than ever, with more displays of Jewish unity and more mitzvot. We will persist until we come out permanently on top, with the ultimate victory Jews have been praying for for generations — the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Temple, may it occur in our lifetime!