Blog  NFTY-PAR: As Jews We Hold On To Hope

NFTY-PAR: As Jews We Hold On To Hope

The following is an excerpt from a D’var Torah given by NFTY-PAR Religious and Cultural Vice President Audrey Fein.

PAR 1Boker tov, NFTY-PAR. This morning we read from the Parsha Chayei Sarah, Genesis chapter 23 verses one to nine. The part that we read from this morning defines the Parsha Chayei Sarah. These verses discuss Sarah’s life span, and important death rituals. However, in chapter 24, a meaningful message is delivered by an unlikely man.

In verse 12, Abraham’s servant prays for “good fortune”, or more literally for “something good to pass”. By a raise of hands, how many of us here have ever prayed to God for something good to happen? For example, “please god let me pass this test”. Or one of my recent favorites “please God let there be no spelling errors in my college essays”. We all do it sometimes. If not, stay tuned for later today when we explore God.

Interestingly, this prayer, uttered by Abraham’s servant, is the first prayer for divine guidance in the Torah. No other person so far in Genesis has asked specifically for God’s help. This prayer comes from a nameless individual. He is only known as “Abraham’s servant”. He is not a Matriarch or Patriarch. He does not ask for God to use magic or sorcery to solve his problem, he only asks for a sign that good fortune is coming his way. This servant is all of us. He is nameless because we all need good fortune sometimes for a variety of reasons.

Biblical people had a very different relationship with God than we do today. They believed that God played a big role in human affairs. God was approachable, and God was near as prayer itself. God was like a father who looked after children.

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This is just one way to look at God. Over the course of this event we will look at how many different people connect and relate to God.  Abraham’s messenger did what we still do today: he looked for external manifestations of the Divine presence. As Reform Jews, we embrace the struggle of finding out what God means to us.

However, I think there is a common link in most ways we connect to God as Jews. We can disagree on how we should pray, we can disagree on whether or not God exists. One thing that we cannot disagree on is the Jewish people’s inherent aim to hope. Hope. We have always hoped. When Abraham prays to God, he says simply and directly to “grant me good fortune”. He hopes that somehow good fortune will come his way. Be it through God or another force.

Hope can get complicated in our modern world. What are we supposed to hope for? Hope for peace in the Middle East? Hope to get an A on our math test? Hope that this D’var is over soon? I can’t answer those questions for you. We all hope for different things. What I do hope is that we can all strive to follow the Golden Rule “do not unto others as you would have them do unto you”. No matter what types of people we encounter, it is our purpose as Jews to hold onto hope for a better world and mutual understanding among all people.

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