• When is it appropriate to hold out hope for something (hold on) and when is it appropriate to let go?
  • Is there an inherent value in Judaism to maintain hope?
  • When do you want to hold on to hope and when is it wise to change course? How do you make that decision?


(יז) וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ אֵלֶ֖יהָ הָאֲנָשִׁ֑ים נְקִיִּ֣ם אֲנַ֔חְנוּ מִשְּׁבֻעָתֵ֥ךְ הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ׃ (יח) הִנֵּ֛ה אֲנַ֥חְנוּ בָאִ֖ים בָּאָ֑רֶץ אֶת־תִּקְוַ֡ת חוּט֩ הַשָּׁנִ֨י הַזֶּ֜ה תִּקְשְׁרִ֗י בַּֽחַלּוֹן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הוֹרַדְתֵּ֣נוּ ב֔וֹ וְאֶת־אָבִ֨יךְ וְאֶת־אִמֵּ֜ךְ וְאֶת־אַחַ֗יִךְ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֔יךְ תַּאַסְפִ֥י אֵלַ֖יִךְ הַבָּֽיְתָה׃ (יט) וְהָיָ֡ה כֹּ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־יֵצֵא֩ מִדַּלְתֵ֨י בֵיתֵ֧ךְ ׀ הַח֛וּצָה דָּמ֥וֹ בְרֹאשׁ֖וֹ וַאֲנַ֣חְנוּ נְקִיִּ֑ם וְ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִֽהְיֶ֤ה אִתָּךְ֙ בַּבַּ֔יִת דָּמ֣וֹ בְרֹאשֵׁ֔נוּ אִם־יָ֖ד תִּֽהְיֶה־בּֽוֹ׃ (כ) וְאִם־תַּגִּ֖ידִי אֶת־דְּבָרֵ֣נוּ זֶ֑ה וְהָיִ֣ינוּ נְקִיִּ֔ם מִשְּׁבֻעָתֵ֖ךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ׃

(17) But the men warned her, “We will be released from this oath which you have made us take (18) [unless,] when we invade the country, you tie this length of crimson cord to the window through which you let us down. Bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your family together in your house; (19) and if anyone ventures outside the doors of your house, his blood will be on his head, and we shall be clear. But if a hand is laid on anyone who remains in the house with you, his blood shall be on our heads. (20) And if you disclose this mission of ours, we shall likewise be released from the oath which you made us take.”


(יד) קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְה֫וָ֥ה חֲ֭זַק וְיַאֲמֵ֣ץ לִבֶּ֑ךָ וְ֝קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְהוָֽה׃

(14) Look to the LORD; be strong and of good courage! O look to the LORD!

פעם אחת היו עולין לירושלים... כיון שהגיעו להר הבית ראו שועל שיצא מבית קדשי הקדשים התחילו הן בוכין ור"ע מצחק אמרו לו מפני מה אתה מצחק אמר להם מפני מה אתם בוכים אמרו לו מקום שכתוב בו (במדבר א, נא) והזר הקרב יומת ועכשיו שועלים הלכו בו ולא נבכה אמר להן לכך אני מצחק דכתיב (ישעיהו ח, ב) ואעידה לי עדים נאמנים את אוריה הכהן ואת זכריה בן יברכיהו... תלה הכתוב נבואתו של זכריה בנבואתו של אוריה באוריה כתיב (מיכה ג, יב) לכן בגללכם ציון שדה תחרש [וגו'] בזכריה כתיב (זכריה ח, ד) עוד ישבו זקנים וזקנות ברחובות ירושלם עד שלא נתקיימה נבואתו של אוריה הייתי מתיירא שלא תתקיים נבואתו של זכריה עכשיו שנתקיימה נבואתו של אוריה בידוע שנבואתו של זכריה מתקיימת בלשון הזה אמרו לו עקיבא ניחמתנו עקיבא ניחמתנו:

They were ascending to Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple... When they arrived at the Temple Mount, they saw a fox that emerged from the site of the Holy of Holies. They began weeping, and Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him: For what reason are you laughing? Rabbi Akiva said to them: For what reason are you weeping? They said to him: This is the place concerning which it is written: “And the non-priest who approaches shall die” (Numbers 1:51), and now foxes walk in it; and shall we not weep? Rabbi Akiva said to them: That is why I am laughing, as it is written, when God revealed the future to the prophet Isaiah: “And I will take to Me faithful witnesses to attest: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah” (Isaiah 8:2)... the verse established that fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah is dependent on fulfillment of the prophecy of Uriah. In the prophecy of Uriah it is written: “Therefore, for your sake Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become rubble, and the Temple Mount as the high places of a forest” (Micah 3:12), where foxes are found. In the prophecy of Zechariah it is written: “There shall yet be elderly men and elderly women sitting in the streets of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 8:4). Until the prophecy of Uriah with regard to the destruction of the city was fulfilled I was afraid that the prophecy of Zechariah would not be fulfilled, as the two prophecies are linked. Now that the prophecy of Uriah was fulfilled, it is evident that the prophecy of Zechariah remains valid. The Gemara adds: The Sages said to him, employing this formulation: Akiva, you have comforted us; Akiva, you have comforted us.


  • Do you relate to one character more than another? Would you be able to see things like Rabbi Akiva or the other Sages?
  • How do you imagine the story continuing after this scene?
  • In retrospect, was Rabbi Akiva foolish for maintaining hope?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Celebrating Life, pg 175

Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it does need courage to hope


  • Do you agree with R. Sacks’ distinction between optimism and hope?
  • When is a time you have experienced optimism in your life that was not hope?
  • Does ‘hope’ or ‘optimism’ best describe your current experience in your philanthropic journey? Or neither?
  • What place do each of these have in the world of philanthropy?


Shawshank Redemption

Natan Sharansky, Fear No Evil, pages 370-371

During these years I have met people who have been weakened from constant disappointments. They continually create new hopes for themselves, and as a result they betray themselves. Others live in the world of illusions, hastily and incessantly building and rebuilding their world in order to prevent real life from ultimately destroying it. What, then, is the solution? The only answer is to find the meaning of your current life. It’s best if you are left with only one hope – the hope of remaining yourself no matter what happens. Don’t fear, don’t believe, and don’t hope. Don’t believe words from the outside; believe in your own heart. Believe in that meaning which was revealed to you in this life, and hope that you will succeed in guarding it.

The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay, (quote below said by character Morris Levy)

There are two important rules of business; knowing when to get in, and when to get out. Of the two, knowing when to get out is the more important.”


  • What are some examples of things in the world that you feel one should always be hopeful about?
  • What are some things that you feel it is time to give up on and move on from?
  • What kind of strength do each of these actions require?
  • What are the ramifications of this discussion on your philanthropy work?