Rabbi Sari Laufer: ‘There May Yet Be Hope’

Voice Notes of Hope is a series of encouraging words from rabbis, just when we need them the most.

It’s a scary time. Many of us are feeling despaired. Many of us are feeling hopeless. And we could all use a boost. So, we asked our favorite rabbis to send us voice notes of hope, reminders that as bad as things feel now, we must not give up. Here’s Rabbi Sari Laufer, the Director of Congregational Engagement at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, here to remind us that, despite it all, we Jews are well-acquainted with hope.

“Normally, when we talk about hope — we are forward-thinking, talking about the future. But I want to take us back a couple of months, to Tisha B’Av, the day on which we commemorate loss, remembering the destruction of the Temple in Jewish history. On Tisha B’Av, we read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations. It is a book of pain  and of sadness, but also of beauty and hope.

Each year, during the reading, I find myself closing my eyes, and over the course of the five chapters, I allow my focus to drift from the words and images, and just let the sounds wash over me. Each year, I find myself centering on one or two verses, the image or the poetry that stays with me. 

Yeshev badad v’yidom, ulai yesh tikvah.

Let him sit alone and be patient… There may yet be hope.

We are, despite it all — or perhaps because of it all — well acquainted with hope. It is the anthem of our homeland; it is the message of our Torah, it is the driving force of the Jewish people. And yet here, in this darkest moment, the message is both uplifting… and realistic. MAYBE… there may yet be… yesh tikvah — maybe there’s hope. It is not a guarantee, it is not an answer. It is… a possibility. And this is a week, a year, a time that needs possibilities. We cannot escape the pain of Eicha — we have to sit in it. But, we also need not escape the possibility that oolay yesh tikvah, maybe there is hope, and we need not ignore the evergreen reminder from our Psalms, that those who sow in tears, will reap in joy.


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