Aug 30, 2021 A Look To The Future
At this time of year, I believe most people I know are focused on the coming year rather than reviewing the year past. I think one of the reasons behind that phenomenon is based on a Dennis Prager lecture I recall about happiness. Mr. Prager, a very popular speaker, said that one of the pillars of being happy is having something to look forward to. In fact, he said that looking forward to a vacation or a family celebration may create more happiness than the vacation or event itself.
I started to think about the idea of looking forward to something when last Shabbat, my wife Judy, shared an article that she was reading about the building plans for the city of Jerusalem during the coming decade.
While her thoughts turned to the coming congestion and impact on the environment that these projects will have upon us, I, in contrast, found myself enthusiastic about all of the future changes to the Jerusalem landscape. The article stated that these infrastructure projects and building endeavors were needed to accommodate a projected population of 1.5 million people in Jerusalem by 2030!
My enthusiasm most likely comes from my love of watching building projects in process; whether it’s a new road being built or a porch being added to the back of a neighbor’s home. I simply love monitoring the daily progress of these activities. I have a precious memory from my childhood when the City of Chicago installed new drainage pipes on the main street in front of our South Side home. These pipes were buried about 10 feet under the asphalt and were large enough for me to stand up in. When the workers finished their daily tasks, it was very easy for my friends and me to descend to one of the project entrances and explore hundreds of feet of newly created tunnels that would someday catch the rainwater above. We turned those tunnels into imagined escape routes from the Nazi prison camps, which filled our summer with seemingly endless hours of dramatic play. Naturally, I was quite sad when the workers closed the pipe entrances, but I loved monitoring the project’s progress.
In addition, what particularly excited me about the article was that we had just completed one of the shortest Haftorahs that we read during the year a few hours earlier. The Haftorah was from Isaiah, and the two verses that resonated with me were 54:2,3, which reads:
“הַרְחִ֣יבִי מְק֣וֹם אׇהֳלֵ֗ךְ וִֽירִיע֧וֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתַ֛יִךְ יַטּ֖וּ אַל־תַּחְשֹׂ֑כִי הַאֲרִ֙יכִי֙ מֵיתָרַ֔יִךְ וִיתֵדֹתַ֖יִךְ חַזֵּֽקִי”
Enlarge the site of your tent, extend the size of your dwelling, do not stint! lengthen the ropes and drive the pegs firm.
“כִּֽי־יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹ֖אול תִּפְרֹ֑צִי וְזַרְעֵךְ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם יִירָ֔שׁ וְעָרִ֥ים נְשַׁמּ֖וֹת יוֹשִֽׁיבוּ”
For you shall spread out to the right and the left; your offspring shall dispossess nations and shall people the desolate towns.
Isaiah, who lived nearly 3000 years ago, is known as a prophet who provides us with a vision of comfort. I believe these two verses predict the grand expansion of Jerusalem that we have witnessed and will experience in the coming decade. When I arrived in Israel in 1979, 300,000 people lived in Jerusalem; today, the population is nearly a million. Jerusalem needs to expand to absorb the population growth that Isaiah predicted.
I feel very privileged that PSA started in Jerusalem and continues to be part of this miraculous growth. While we all have experienced a very challenging year because of Corona, we look forward to a better year, where Corona is behind us and Israel in general, and Jerusalem, in particular, will flourish. I look forward to a city of cleaner air, fewer traffic jams, and peaceful times that will allow many people from all over the world to join us in this extraordinary place.
Looking forward to these things makes me happy and hopeful, and I wish both happiness and hope to all of our clients, colleagues, and friends in the coming year.