In this week’s Torah portion, Vayera, Avraham shows a lot of faith, even when not knowing how the promise of having children to carry on the teachings of our traditions and being made a great nation, and receiving the land will play out.
He goes through many trials and tribulations throughout the parsha: he was asked to sacrifice his son, argued with G-d about destroying the evil and morally corrupt Sodom, ultimately saved his nephew Lot from being destroyed there, and feared from his encounter with King Avimelech.
When he and Sarah stay in Gerar, he fears that he will be killed so that his beautiful wife Sarah will be taken by King Avimlech, since such was the custom of that place– to kill the husband and take his wife.
Moral depravity is all around and there is not a lot of feeling of hope for the future.
And yet at the very end of the Torah portion, we read about the genealogy of Rivka.
What’s the connection?
No matter how low, depraved, evil and corrupt society sinks, we learn that there will be a successor of Sarah. There will be continuity.
How can we cultivate hope when things around us seem so dark?
According to psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Hope” Charles Snyder, hopeful people believe that their plans or goals can happen, even when the situation around them is uncertain and not favorable. They don’t stop in setting a goal or making a plan for it to happen. Obviously goals can change, especially in a time of war, but even just thinking about a goal, can help us to cultivate a feeling of hope.
Hopeful people understand that when the future is uncertain, it holds many possibilities and not necessarily just just negative ones. There is also room for hope.
In addition, hopeful people don’t go it alone. They are part of a community and are in touch with friends and family. We can also be aware of who gives us strength and choose who we want to be with. Social connections are important.
And finally, since it’s usually about mindfulness, I have found that keeping up my mindfulness practice has helped me to feel grounded and in the present moment, rather than constantly worrying about what will be. And there is a lot to worry about.
We don’t need lofty goals right now. Any small thing that will give us strength and help us cope, such as better taking care of ourselves to help us get through each day or helping someone in our community.
If we could take one thing to learn from Avraham right now, it could be that in the face of uncertainty, trials and fear for his life, he looked ahead with the promise and goal of building the future of the Jewish nation.
May we also merit in the building of the future of the Jewish nation, and may we merit protection ( מגן אברהם) as we fight for our survival and the eradication of those who want to destroy us.