There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt. — Hosea 2:15
The Torah portion for this week is Bamidbar, which means “in the desert,” from Numbers 1:1–4:20, and the Haftorah is from Hosea 2:1–22.
Nobody likes going through difficult times. Yet, we all experience trouble in our lives. It can be trouble that we brought upon ourselves, or trouble brought upon us by circumstances beyond our control. No matter how we may have arrived at our place of distress, we can all resonate with the powerful plea of King David in Psalm 55:6, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”
It’s tempting to wish our troubles away or imagine that we could magically fly away from them. But this week’s Haftorah reading gives us a different perspective. It’s also the sentiment that David eventually arrived at in the conclusion of Psalm 55. In taking a closer look at the reading from Hosea 2, we learn that fleeing our situation isn’t the best solution to our problems. Rather, we are called on to transform our situation into something better than we might have ever imagined.
After describing a series of curses that would come upon the disloyal Israelites, our reading describes how God will bring them back and how He will always love the children of Israel. In this context we read, “There I will . . . make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”
A valley often metaphorically represents a difficult time. There are times when we are high on our mountains. We can see the beautiful landscape and clarify our sense of direction. But other times we are deep down in the valley. Ahead of us lies a mountain, perhaps steep and difficult to climb.
Moreover, we cannot see beyond the mountain. We lack clarity and may feel stuck and troubled. In our verse, this particular valley is called “Achor.” This is more than just the name of the place; it is a description of it. In Hebrew, the word achor can mean “trouble” or “affliction.”
We have all been to the valley of trouble — and it’s not a fun place to be. But this verse teaches us that God will turn our valley of trouble into “a door of hope.” We shouldn’t run from our troubles, because it is in that very place that we can find our doorway out of our situation. It is in the darkest places that God will show us light. It is through our most difficult trials that we learn some of life’s greatest lessons. And often what seemed like the worst thing to happen to us turns out to be the best thing to happen to us.
This is the door of hope, and we can walk through it anytime by having faith that everything that happens to us, happens for our very best.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President