Honorable Mensch-ion

We Must Not Despair

Ambassador Michael Oren, author of the new book 2048: The Rejuvenated State, spoke at the closing of the JNF-USA Global Conference in Denver, Colorado. He quoted the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, who was an avid writer in his diary.

To define courage we must look at our past.

On May 8, 1945, the day that Nazi Germany surrendered, everyone was celebrating except Ben-Gurion. He wrote in his diary, “Sad. very sad.” It appeared that the Zionist dream was dead.

Ambassador Oren explained that after that entry, Ben-Gurion went to work “decimated but by no means defeated.”

These three words can easily describe these past few weeks–in Israel and even in America on the college campus–sad, very sad.

In moments like today, we must not despair, and we must heal the wounds as we are presented an opportunity.

This is what we do tonight on Shabbat Chanukah–we must not despair.

The Rabbis tell us that in order to recite the shehecheyanu blessing on Chanukah, one must actually see the flame. One may not recite this blessing simply because it is the first night. Rather, it is the action of witnessing the glimmer of light in the dark world that is the miracle we must bring out to the world.

For the last two months, it has been challenging to remove despair from our emotion. Yet, it is time that we light the Shamash, which in turn lights the other candles. In one week, our Chanukiot will be full of light. And when that time comes, I ask that in the name of Ben-Gurion, we change those words of sad, very sad to hopeful, very hopeful.

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