Was Pollyanna On To Something

Sunday, 12 November, 2023 - 9:00 am

Pollyanna was a fictional book and movie character who demonstrated unusual optimism, faith, and determination to look for the good in everything. We often use the term to describe someone who is “unreasonably” positive, or the refusal to be pulled down, even under the most challenging of circumstances.

But was Pollyanna on to something. Did she know something about life that many of us don’t recognize? 

Since the events of October 7, the Jewish people have faced a challenge, unprecedented in our generation. No need to state the obvious. In Israel and in the Diaspora, Jews are feeling threatened in a way that we have not felt in a long time.

There are two general methods of reaction. We can be fearful and highlight the threat, which wouldn’t be unreasonable. But it might leave us more vulnerable. When we project fear and a sense of downtroddenness, that can embolden our enemies.

Or we can radiate strength and optimism (without lowering our guard to the possibility of danger). 

The Baal Shem Tov once commented on the verse in Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot, “On the image of the throne, I saw an image of the appearance of a man.” Kabbalah has a deep interpretation of that verse as it refers to “Supernal Man.” The Baal Shem Tov adds that “the image of the appearance of a man” teaches the G-d reflects the image projected by man. The Hebrew term used in the verse, “Mareh” means mirror or reflection. When we project joy and optimism, that is reflected back from G-d towards us. If we project pessimism or negativity, or even worry and concern, that is reflected back towards us. 

The Chabad movement, motivated by the Rebbe’s constant call to channel this approach of the Baal Shem Tov, is full steam ahead on radiating optimism and strength. The action plan (shared below) is meant to be a real emotional and spiritual support for Israel. In addition, it is also meant to help Jews feel more positively Jewish. When we project strength and optimism, we cannot be brought down. It increases our feeling of togetherness and unity, which further strengthens us.

Instead of just bemoaning the state of antisemitism today, project Jewishness. Now is the time for more visible declaration of our Jewishness, more Mezuzahs, more Mitzvot, and more strength. We are not Jews who cower and hide. We are Jews who are proud and public about who we are. We know that truth and righteousness is with us and that good people in the world stand with us. 

Today at noon central time, the annual Chabad Shluchim Conference will be broadcast at Tune in to watch the projection of strength, optimism, and joy. 

May G-d bless us with the reflection of strength, optimism, and joy back towards us as we march to the complete Redemption through the coming of Mashiach speedily.         

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Action Plan Highlights
See our page
Add your Mitzvah today!

  • Tefillin: Please visit Chabad Uptown or Chabad Metairie and lay Tefillin or reach out to have someone come by with Tefillin. If you have Tefillin, put them on daily and offer to share them with other Jewish males over Bar Mitzvah. I am proud to report that we have experienced a significant surge in people coming forward to lay Tefillin.

  • Shabbat Candles: Ladies and girls, you have the power of light in your hands. Light Shabbat candles before sunset on Friday (this week at 6:14 pm). If you need or know someone that needs Shabbat candles, let us know and we will get a package to them. Many women have committed to light Shabbat candles in our community. This is very gratifying.

  • Mezuzah: Put a Mezuzah on the door of your home, or check the existing ones to make sure they are valid. Reach out to us if you need a Mezuzah or help checking the ones you have up. In New Orleans several dozen Mezuzahs have been put up in the past two weeks. We just got a shipment of 120 additional Mezuzahs and requests are coming in strong.

  • Tzedakah: is a great resource to get funds directly to the organizations on the ground in Israel helping with the war effort. There are many other reputable organizations raising funds as well, see for the Federation’s initiatives. The main thing is to offer our support.

  • Pray: Chabad Rabbis in Israel have asked that recite the following Psalms for the safety and security our people in Israel - Psalms 20, 22, 69, 122, and 150. At Chabad (both locations) we recite them twice daily during the morning and evening minyan.

  • Letter in the Scroll: Get your child a letter in the Children’s Torah Scroll – The Unity Torah for people of all ages –

  • Study Torah: Join a Torah class or study on your own. Register for The World of Kabbalah and introduce the calm that comes from the power of Torah knowledge into your life. For the uptown course For the Metairie course

  • Take a tour of a Mikvah and explore the secret to Jewish family purity and harmony. For more info,

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