Resources Referred to in Choosing Hope
This study guide is primarily designed for book groups seeking a focused conversation about some of the themes discussed in Choosing Hope, as well as for educational settings exploring Judaism and hope. Each unit contains texts and discussion questions that can be used as handouts for classes or in other educational contexts. View the guide
David Hartman (1931-2013, United States and Israel), a powerful progressive voice in Modern Orthodoxy, contrasts two models of hope in Jewish thought and history: Exodus, requiring what he calls a “rupture in history,” and Sinai, based on the fulfilment of Jewish law. Read more
Covenant as Reward and Punishment: The Sh’ma
The second paragraph of the Sh’ma serves as a primer on what will happen should Israel fail to keep up its end of the covenantal bargain, a feature that is often present in biblical treatments of the covenant. The covenantal theology of reward and punishment also contains an element of hope: if straying from the covenant will bring disaster, returning to it will usher in better times. Read more
Hope surfaces in a range of situations, from the trivial to the most important. We can hope for a sunny day and also for a successful medical intervention to overcome a life-threatening illness. Likewise, hope may refer to situations in which we can directly influence the outcome, as well as those in which our role seems quite passive. The hope of passing an exam will be influenced by the amount of effort we put into studying for it. The hope that our transatlantic commercial flight will land safely following the pilot’s announcement of trouble with the landing gear falls beyond our capacity to influence the outcome. But sometimes hope is more about how we conduct ourselves in a difficult situation than about whether we can find a way out of it. Faced with a terminal illness, we may give up hope for a cure but continue to live in the hope of dying with dignity. Read more
Our core beliefs about ourselves and humanity have a great deal to do with our capacity to hope. If we believe that human beings are fundamentally decent, we can look at the imperfections in ourselves and the world and decide to roll up our sleeves and try to fix them. Our ability to envision a better world, our willingness to trust in others enough to help us build it, and our conviction that our efforts may bear fruit bespeak our capacity to hope. Alas, some cannot imagine tomorrow’s being significantly brighter than today. They don’t trust others enough to build a healthy working relationship. And they are quite sure that their efforts will be futile. Call this despair. Read more
There are many ways to approach the study of Judaism as a source of hope, but one might be to simply immerse ourselves in Jewish texts on hope. This anthology will provide that opportunity by surveying a broad array of Jewish texts on hope, beginning with the Book of Genesis and concluding with a 2021 statement by Ruth Messinger, former Manhattan Borough President and longtime President of the American Jewish World Service. Sources run the gamut, from the Bible and midrash to philosophy and poetry. Most of these passages view hope in positive terms, though some look upon it as dangerously misguided. Read more
In the midst of Jacob’s deathbed testament, the patriarch utters three words as an apparent aside:
I hope for Your salvation, O Lord!
. לישועתך קויתי יהוה
David’s academic articles in the fields of Jewish studies and psychology can be fully accessed at Research Gate.
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