Below is a brief description of the speech.
We are in the midst of a marvelous and joyous holiday, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Yet, many of us are worrying, about tomorrow. We worry about the sluggish economy. We worry about our jobs, about our ability to keep earning a living in a world where things are unstable and change so fast.
The distinguishing feature of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret is simchah. Yet the Talmud finds it necessary to apply the requirement of simchah specifically to Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Why?
The Talmud's intriguing account of what would take place in ancient Israel as soon as the Sukkot holiday was over, holds the answer to the above question and a powerful case for optimism and joy in the face of uncertainty.
The touching story of two children holding hands teaches that the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are temporary. Sooner or later, the wind may come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody's hand to hold, only the person who invested in the spiritual realm, will be able to celebrate.
5772 will be a challenging year. The world economy needs a "Refuah Shlema"... Now is a good time to invest in things that the ups and downs of Wall Street can never sweep way.
Yes, the coming year may have its share of problems, but don't be afraid. Have courage. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the overcoming of fear through moral action. Courage is looking fear in the face and refusing to be intimidated.
Courage is the young mother, who without the sufficient help continues to raise her children and tend to her household instead of dissolving into self-pity. Courage is the Israeli soldier going into battle, fully aware of the dangers he is facing but accepting the challenge to protect Israel and the Jewish people. Courage is the Jew who dances on Simchat Torah, despite the sinister economic winds that may soon drift in.
Friends, Shemini Atzeret asks us to give up our fear of the future and in its place to celebrate with courage and hope and faith.