“Thank you so much for your commitment to helping believers (both Jewish and Christian) obtain greater understanding of life’s questions. I have a trip planned with my siblings to travel to the areas where we grew up in hopes of reliving some wonderful memories of our childhood. Of course there will will be a mix of laughs, smiles and the inevitable sad memories (no one’s life is without this).
Is this a healthy activity, to revisit one’s past to enjoy memories and life lessons from the past in order to reinforce who you are today? I have been told this is a waste of time and I should only look to the future. Thank you for your insight.”
As you probably know, God’s language, Hebrew, and His book, the Bible, reveal reality. One of the amazing things about verbs in the Five Books of Moses is that they are incredibly hard to find in present tense. Verbs overwhelmingly appear in past or future tense or as imperatives.
This teaches us that the present is a tiny, ephemeral sliver linking the past to the future. To immerse yourself in the past and not look to a future is depressing and unproductive. To focus on the future without recalling the past is foolish and unsuccessful.
Whoever told you that your trip is a waste of time is, probably unintentionally, misleading you. Cutting ourselves off from our roots is not good for either our physical or our mental health, neither is it good for our social and family connectedness. The severed flower looks good for only a short while before it begins to wither.
Your trip sounds like a wonderful opportunity. If you told us that you and your siblings refused to marry or move away from your childhood home and that your conversations only revolved around that period in your lives, we’d be worried. We’d be just as worried if you told us that you cut yourself off from your past, pretending that only your future matters.
Unless there is more involved than we are understanding, we wish you a poignant, fulfilling and joyous trip.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin