New Year, New Hope: These days you have to have a strong heart to listen to the news! ISIS, Gaza, Russia, Ukraine, Ebola, the Border Immigration Crisis and the drought to name just some. Sometimes one wonders if the world is coming apart at the seams. The level of inhumanity in some areas borders the unspeakable. There are times when I find it hard to believe that we live in the 21st Century. The acts of barbarity such as wholesale beheadings go beyond what might have been practiced over a thousand or even two thousand years ago.

Contrast this to a tradition that considers every human created in God’s image. This suggests that whenever possible, barbaric cruelty must be addressed through legal proceedings. When that isn’t possible, there is still the possibility of honor on the field of battle.

Again, our tradition perceives these coming months as a time when the world is judged by its Creator. It’s hard to believe that this past year has been a source of great satisfaction to our Heavenly Parent! What implications does this have for the year to come?

Most of us don’t fall under the category of president and potentate; yet, from the Divine perspective, which is infinite in time and space, the difference turns out not to be quite so sharp. We all a part of a family or a community and the degree to which we show appreciation and respect; avoid sarcasm—especially to those we love—and practice patience affects us not only as individuals, but starts to have a positive impact on the community at large.

There’s a midrash that tells of a time when the waters of Creation were about to flood the earth. Each grain of sand seemed insignificant and powerless to overcome such a force. But the grains decided to join ranks and in gathering all together they were able to set up a barrier that withstood the mighty waters.

Each of us can be compared to a grain of sand, yet in our determination to live according to the moral principle that every human being is creating in the image of God, and in forming strongs bonds as a community, we can withstand the waters that threaten to devastate the world.

May we all experience a Shanah tovah, um’tukah—a good and sweet year!

Rabbi Mordecai Miller