War in Israel. Anti-semitism. Upheaval across the Middle East. Public beheadings. The Ebola epidemic. Domestic violence. Tensions in Eastern Europe. Political discord. And more...
This past year has been one of immense global disruption, leaving many fearful about the future.
So what to do?
Curl ourselves up hopelessly in a ball? Sit back passively and wait for the storm to pass?
Rosh Hashanah weighs in with a resounding, "No!"
Instead, our High Holiday prayers and teachings inform us that we each have a unique role to play in G-d's grand orchestra, and He holds the baton.
This year the world marked twenty years since the passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. One of the life-lessons the Rebbe imparted to us all, both by teaching and example, was to recognize, cultivate and celebrate the inherent goodness in one another, and the goodness inherent in the world at large.
Indeed, there is plenty about this past year to engender optimism and hope. We experienced unprecedented Jewish unity – in Israel and across the globe; we witnessed outright miracles in Israel; we made great strides in the global war against poverty; nations are finding common ground to combat evil; and, along with many miracles big and small, there is an increasing awareness that there is a Supreme Being Who runs this still imperfect world of ours. And there is a spreading awareness that we need to fix it.
No, all is not yet perfect. Not by a long shot.
But the Rebbe would frequently quote the Maimonidean adage: Each person should see himself as though the entire world is on a delicate balance, and with one deed, he or she can tip the scales.
It's G-d's world, He won't let it falter. But He wants us to be His partners.
He gives us each the power to turn our world upright, to perfect it.
Every good act, every expression of kindness and love, acts like a thousand antibodies to neutralize the viruses of evil and germinate the world with holiness.
Let us each do our share. And then G-d will surely do His.