Rabbi Steven Philp: ‘We Have Traversed This Narrow Bridge Before’

Welcome to Voice Notes of Hope, 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. First up: Rabbi Steven Philp, a rabbi, counselor, and educator who lives in Manhattan with his husband and their cat.

“As we consider the current state of our world – suffering as it is from a drought of compassion and accountability – it is tempting to give in to despair. If our destination is the promise of a more equitable, more just future, we stand at the beginning of a long and laborious road. Like the Israelites gazing into the endless wilderness, we may question whether we will survive the journey.

The Hasidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav teaches: Although the world is a very narrow bridge, it is essential that we not give in to fear. Hope is not contingent on the certainty of tomorrow, but is the lesson of the story we tell when we look at how far we’ve come to reach this moment. Our people have crossed oceans and deserts, survived exile and persecution chasing the promise of a better world. We have walked the long arc of history and understand that it slowly bends towards justice. Of course, the way forward has not always been clear. More often than not, we have had to take the next step on our journey destination unknown. The courage and resilience to do so comes from the understanding that we have traversed this narrow bridge before.

This year has not been easy, for any of us. Our schedules have been disrupted. We have faced heartbreak and loss. We have been separated from those we love. Each of us has had to overcome obstacles to get here; and each of us has exhibited the strength and tenacity needed to reach this moment.”


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