This Shabbat of December 22 and 23 will be the darkest Shabbat of the year, with the longest night, as it falls on the first day of Winter. It is easy in the dark days of winter, in times of sadness or loss to give into hopelessness, to believe that things will stay dark forever.
But we know this is not true as this week’s Torah portion reminds us.
Many years ago, Jacob thought his beloved son, Joseph, had been killed by wild beasts, as his other sons had told him. Decades later, Joseph is restored to his father, and they spend the last years of Jacob’s life together. Now lying on his deathbed Jacob says, “I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well.” (Genesis 48:11)
Jacob’s words remind us to never give up hope, to retain our optimism, because we never know how life will turn out. Or, as Shimon Peres, Israel’s visionary prime minister said, “Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.”
Let us live as optimists, because optimists keep hope alive in the world.