If the ten days which have just ended had a message for this Jew, it was in the Hebrew word Hineni: “here I am.” This space will not dwell on the spiritual meaning of the word or its significance in a religious sense. This is not the place for such essays. Here is such a place, if you are interested, and, indeed, it is that sermon (including some comments with which I do not agree and not simply the ones about a horrible baseball game from 1978) is one of the reasons the word has particular resonance at this moment.
In the world of the less mystical, though, hineni means that punditry and hand wringing aside, we remain dedicated to the causes that have brought us together here and elsewhere, that elected Franklin Roosevelt to alter government’s mission in 1932, that elected Harry Truman to tell Republicans that the immediate postwar period was not a time to turn back, but to move forward into the greatest period of prosperity the nation has ever known, that elected Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to carry that mission to its next logical place, and, finally to elect President Obama to restore our country as the place of hope and dreams and progress and the example to the world of what can be done when people work together.
Over the past weeks, the President has (belatedly, yes) made that point as forcefully and as clearly as it can ever be made, and his comments this week were the most direct we have heard in a long time.