I had the pleasure and privilege this week of hearing the Rt Hon Gordon Brown deliver the first Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Memorial Lecture to a packed auditorium at Kings College London.

The 400 plus audience listened spellbound as Brown proceeded to deliver a powerful, eloquent, and often witty lecture on the importance of hope in society and the challenges and opportunities we face to alleviate poverty – especially child poverty in this country. What was especially impressive was that Brown spoke for over an hour without a single note!

Gordon Brown drew heavily on Jonathan Sack’s teachings. Sacks had been a mentor and a colleague and someone who exerted a moral influence on the country at large. Brown recalled that when Britain went through a financial crisis in 2008, it was crucial that we understood the moral causes of the crisis before we could begin to solve the financial difficulties. It was Jonathan Sacks that helped him comprehend the moral bankruptcy that underlay the country’s economic problems.

Brown was passionate in stirring us to strive for a society that believed in hope:

“Hope is more than optimism… It’s more than wishful thinking. It’s more than saying something might be done. .. It’s more than longing that something should be done. Hope is actually that something can, should, and must be done.”

Of course, Gordon Brown referenced the tragic events in Israel. He identified with the pain of those who have lost loved ones and those families who have hostages still waiting to be returned. He said he also felt for those women and children in Gaza and elsewhere who are suffering. But the main thrust of his presentation was the situation in Britain, and how, inspired by Jonathan Sacks, we could be taking steps to make Britain a better society.

Fundamentally, his message of hope underscores so much of Jewish teaching.

We are in the period between Purim and Pesach. Whenever there is a leap year, such as this one, Purim is observed in the second Adar to establish the link between Purim and Pesach.

Why is that necessary? Because Purim represents a temporary reprieve in Jewish history. The Jews of Persia survived an attempt to exterminate them, but they continued to live under the domination of Achashverosh. Pesach represents the initial and hoped-for final redemption. The Geula or exodus from Egypt is the template for the ultimate messianic salvation.

It is the hope and belief in an even better future that provides us with the values to contribute to whichever country we live in and uphold the ideals that Jonathan Sacks taught and that Gordon Brown was so proud of.