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 Judaism preaches a forward-looking outlook on life and a positive take on the human situation. It also encourages, in fact commands, that even though one is to concentrate on the future, one is never to forget the past. For what happened in the past to a great degree shapes our future and influences it greatly.

Much of our current society is solely enmeshed in the present and has little memory of the past and a vision of what the future should be or, in fact, will be like. Life is fleeting and there is almost no way to hold on to the present. Much of the frustration and tension that exists in modern society stems from the fact that we are always trying to win in the present and it is always eluding us. The present is the wink of an eye and the breath of the moment. There can be no purpose in life if it is only the pursuit of the present, its leisure and imagined joys.
One of the extraordinary accomplishments of the Jewish people over its long history has been that it never relinquished the dream of the future while at the same time always remembering and commemorating the past. In effect, the present was always shaped and formed by the memories of the past and a vision for the future. That became the guideline for Jewish life and accomplishment.
And this was not only true for Jewish society but also, just as importantly, it was the basis for Jewish family life and individual attainment. In a Jewish family we always remember those that went before us and we attempt to emulate their good qualities and achievements. At the same time, we concentrate on our future, on our children, our generations and on society generally.
We are constantly asking ourselves important questions. How does my family rate in regard to my ancestors, and what do I want my family and legacy to look like in the future. These two questions frame our behavior in the present. I always said, half-jokingly, that when I became a grandparent, I started to behave myself because I wanted my grandchildren to be proud of me. But that is a truism. We want those who come after us to be able to look back at our lives with pride. That is our road to immortality and eternity.
 Judaism was and is a completely family-oriented faith and value system. And this idea should therefore shape our future. It may be more comfortable in the present to remain unburdened with family and children and all that that entails, but just a glimpse into the future will show us that this is the only way that we can truly assure the continuity of the Jewish people and Judaism. It is all dependent upon the formation of families and imbuing them with timeless Torah values.
Often, remembering the past is painful and disturbing. That is especially true of our personal lives.  We have all made mistakes, verbally and physically, and there are many things that we are not necessarily proud of. Usually, we sublimate these thoughts into our unconscious in order to continue to live and improve. There is no use in brooding over the past. The only thing that we can do is regret our mistakes and learn from them and be careful not to repeat them. That is the basis of the Jewish concept of true repentance.
One is not allowed to say to oneself that because of past errors, no matter how severe, that all is lost. One of the great weapons of the Satan is to convince us that we have no self-worth, that a situation cannot be improved and that we are not worthy somehow of being remembered in a positive fashion. We naturally need to be realistic about our past, but our eyes should be towards the future and what can yet be accomplished, for ourselves and for others. I think that these are important ideas that we should absorb into our thought processes.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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