I was sitting in my office, talking to a tenant, a male probably in his 70’s.
He was wearing a t-shirt with an inspirational quote from Nelson Mandela. It read, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Inspiring, I know. But what happened next was not-so-inspiring.
He glanced at my desk which had a book on it (it was a Chumash, opened up to Parshas Va’eschanan!). Upon noticing the unique text, he asked me, “Is that Hebrew?!” I nodded in the affirmative.
“I wish I knew Hebrew! I learned Greek and Latin when I was younger, but I should’ve learned Hebrew!” he said. I told him that it’s never too late and he can try learning Hebrew even now, but he shrugged his shoulders and walked out looking a bit dejected.
The irony of this whole story was just so interesting to me. Here was a guy literally wearing a shirt with a motivational message about how nothing is truly impossible, yet he just succumbed to that negative mindset. This is a clear example of a person not truly living based on his beliefs and values. If he truly believed that nothing is impossible, he wouldn’t have turned down the opportunity of learning the Hebrew language, despite perhaps being a daunting task.
Humans have a tendency to say and portray things that don’t necessarily match up with what is truthfully going on inside their hearts. This is called אחד בפה ואחד בלב. Our job is to strive to live in the realm where our mouths and hearts are one, in unison, on the same page, living in harmony.
In the 12th Ani Maamin that we recite daily, we proclaim our belief in the coming of Moshiach. We say, אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִֽׁיחַ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּתְמַהְמֵֽהַּ עִם כָּל זֶה אֲחַכֶּה לּוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹא – I believe with full belief in the coming of Moshiach, and even though it takes so long, I yearn for his arrival each day.
We are a people of אחכה לו, a people who constantly yearn and hope for the Moshiach. We say these words all the time. We sing them all the time. But do we live these words all the time? Do we really believe? Do we truthfully, honestly, and earnestly hope and yearn? Or are we just saying these words to satisfy, to be יוצא, to check off the box?
The Torah (Va’eschanan 4:4) says: וְאַתֶּם֙ הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם חַיִּ֥ים כֻּלְּכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם – you who cling to Hashem, your G-d, are alive today. The Maharal says it is our Emunah in Hashem that creates דביקות, connection, with Him.
Notice that the roshei teivos of the last four words in this verse spells – in order – the word אחכה, which means to yearn and hope. My friends, it is our sincere yearning and constant hope and our strength to never stop believing that truly gives us חיים – life, meaning, vitality, and purpose.