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Though we are always filled with warmth when looking back at our personal and national lives, Judaism and Jewish life are built upon the idea that we must look forward as well…..and on a constant basis. There is much evidence, both psychological and physical, that when people have an event to look forward to, somehow they have greater powers of physical survival and mental acumen.

Simply looking forward to the occasion of a joyful family event almost automatically puts us in a better mood and renews flagging spirits and depression. It is clear that the Jewish calendar, with its commemorative and holy days is done in such a way that we are always able to look forward to events, holidays and days of historical commemoration.
This act of conscious or even subconscious looking forward provides the fuel to help us get past the mundane challenges and problems of everyday life. This period of time, when the summer season begins to wane, and our vacation is just a recent memory, feelings of drabness and boredom would usually set in. However, since the end of summer is the introduction to the month of Elul, which in turn serves as the harbinger of the majestic month of Tishrei, certainly gives us something important to which we can and do look forward. This ability to look forward transforms otherwise dull periods of time into meaningful days.
Since the beginning of our exile almost two millennia ago, the Jewish people have looked forward to our return to the land of Israel and to the restoration of our national sovereignty. In our prayers and in our daily lives we have always reassured ourselves that somehow the time of the national restoration and the ingathering of the exiles would occur. We look forward to it with a certainty that seems completely illogical and unrealistic.
Though the nations of the world mocked us, secretly they were also aware that it could, conceivably, take place. The great Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was quoted as saying that every step that he took in the faraway snow in eastern Europe, in the early 19th century, was a step closer to Jerusalem. “Next year in Jerusalem!” was the rallying point of Jewish life and of the yearly Jewish calendar.
We may treasure the past and even attempt to preserve it, but our hopes are fixed on the future and in looking forward to actuating the prophecies regarding better times and future serenity. Remembering past troubles and tragedies never completely inhibited us from looking forward to a successful revitalization of the Jewish people in its ancient homeland.
And this unlikely scenario of rebirth and of a new Jewish world centered on a Jewish state in the land of Israel, has occurred before our very eyes. It is the reward for looking forward even when the future seemed so dim and dark for us.
The Israeli Bureau of Statistics has recorded that the Jewish birthrate here in Israel is 3.8, far higher than the birth rate in any of the developed countries and in the rest of the Jewish world. Marriage entails a commitment and a willingness to sacrifice for the future. Having children is even more of a commitment and a greater sacrifice. Yet, both marriage and bringing children into this world are manifestations of our nature to look forward, to be able to see things and influence occurrences beyond the span of our years and lifetime.
We have never despaired of our future and we've been blessed with the ability of creating a future when none was apparent. The rabbis long ago postulated that those who look forward, are truly the wise people in the world. Jews are a people of tomorrow and possess the ability to transform the past and even the present into a more optimistic and sanguine future.
It is this ability to constantly look forward that is reflected in the secret of the survival of the Jewish people and of the miraculous events of our time. Looking forward is the key to creativity and invention, to a better world both morally and physically. We certainly have a great deal to look forward to in the coming weeks that will usher in a great good new year.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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