A Ray of Hope
The end of a year is a time for looking back at the days that have passed and of looking ahead to the future.
The year 5764 witnessed the return of thousands of Jews to their Jewish roots through the efforts of Ohr Somayach and other outreach organizations. As encouraging as this may be, this manifestation of teshuva has been the good fortune of only a small percentage of alienated and assimilated Jews.
For the committed Jew who is deeply concerned about the future of our people as a holy nation, there is a message of comfort in the Torah portion which will be read in synagogues throughout the world on the last Shabbat of this year.
It will be that when all of these things come upon you, the blessings and the curses that I have put before you, that you will take it to heart.. and you will return to Hashem, your G-d and heed His voice (Devarim 30:1-2)
Ramban (Nachmanides) points out that the term you will return is written in a form that communicates a double message - a command and a promise. The command is for every Jew to repent his errors and improve his ways, a message so timely on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashana and the Ten Days of Repentance begin. But there is also a promise to us that eventually all Jews will return to their G-d, even if it takes suffering to bring them to their senses.
Let us hope that we have suffered enough in the year gone by and that the year to come will be one of massive return.
May the old year with its curses come to an end; may the new year with its blessings begin.