Honorable Mensch-ion

Prisoners of Hope

As a recently bereaved brother, I learned quickly that even a rabbi needs a rabbi in times of need. Over the past four months of reciting the Kaddish daily, I discovered that my rabbis are my congregants in the daily minyan. People who sit shivah, are in shloshim, are in a year of mourning, or are observing a yahrzeit… We each recite the same words but we each have different stories to tell.

While Torah explicitly prohibits causing distress to an orphan and widow, Rashi includes in this prohibition all downtrodden individuals. Sefer Hachinuch teaches that the widow and the orphan are championed because they have no one else to cry out to but God. Yet, those who are not suffering put their trust in other human beings, often removing the Divine presence in their lives.

The prophet Zechariah calls the Jews assirei tikvah, prisoners of hope. The Torah understands that at our most vulnerable, we must be coddled, embraced and loved. For it is then that we may live out the prophetic vision. I am witness to this act of kindness each day. While no human being is exempt from one day walking through the valley of the shadow, we thankfully are also witness to the light of our tradition, commanding us to pave a path of comfort actively for those in need.

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