Facebook Post of Rabbi Perlin in the Time of Coronavirus (5/20/2020)
Wednesday Post 5.20.20: The Assurance of Better Things to Come
Gary and I will be married 44 years, God-willing, on July 4th. I had just finished my sophomore year at college and Gary had just taken a job as an economist with the World Bank. We were so young. When a cousin, who was an amateur, artist asked if she could create a work of art for us with our favorite quote, we took the request quite seriously. Most couples have a favorite song, and we have that, too. But, our marriage has been guided by the quote we chose in 1976 every single day of our wonderful life together.
I can’t tell you how we chose the quote. I don’t remember and that really isn’t relevant to this post. But, I remember where we found it. It was in the Conservative Machzor (High Holy Day prayer book) I was given for some achievement in my childhood, as it has my name in gold letters on the black cover—the old Silverman High Holy Day Prayer Book, copyright 1951, the 1970 printing. I am sure we opened it for wisdom at the time. I asked Gary to come and take it off the top shelf of my study library this morning. And there on page 21 was the quote, exactly as we remember it:
“May the assurance of better things to come enable us so to live as to hasten their coming. Amen.”
Those were the last words before the sermon every Rosh Hashanah of my childhood. And those words have guided us through our married life together, especially at the times when the world presented challenges we needed to overcome, from life and health issues, to the loss of our first baby in my second trimester, to two premature babies who were so very sick and almost died when they were born (who, thank God, survived).
I keep these words close to my heart, because they offer me two important points of guidance: 1) whatever might be challenging now, there is hope for a better tomorrow, and 2) it is my responsibility (our responsibility) to be active participants in making that hope a reality.
I share this with you today, because those are exactly the two things we need to go forward in a world that is opening up, but not Covid-19 free. We need to be hopeful. We need to imagine a world where we will SOMEDAY not need to wear masks, fear travel, and be able to live our lives carefree. And we need hope that our kids will be back in school, and our houses of worships will once again be safe sanctuaries for our spiritual and physical well-being.
We need hope in times of despair. And on the days when it feels too much for us, we need others to have hope. We all know that false hope and denial that anything is wrong is not hope at all. Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is the result of a life long-lived that says that somehow we will come up for air, and even in the most dire circumstances we will be able to find glimmers of hope through the uncertainty and tragedy of life. And those glimmers can keep us going like embers on a fire can be stoked into a flame.
But, the second part of the quote is equally as important. Even before I was a rabbi, I was a committed Jew. I was taught to repair the world, one mitzvah at a time, in religious school and I have strived to do that each day of my almost 64 years of life. So, I know that I have to live “to hasten the coming” of better things. I have to wear my mask, social distance, wash my hands, be responsible to those around me, advocate for the sick and the hungry, give as much as I can of my time and resources, and do all of that while keeping my family, friends, and loved ones close in these challenging times. I know that my life’s mandate is to hasten the coming of a better world. As a devoted Reform Jew, I work to bring a messianic age in my lifetime for all people everywhere. And I work side-by-side with like-minded “doers” to make that happen each day for someone, somewhere.
We all need hope and purpose.
May the assurance of better things to come enable YOU to live as to hasten their coming. Amen.