The Importance of Remembering


Jewish teachings deal directly with a central fact of human existence: human life is short. The reality that our time on this earth is limited prompts two key imperatives. First, we must use our precious time wisely, doing our best to use our talents to help others, to act with kindness, and to move the world just a little bit forward toward a more perfect future. Second, we must carry with us and pass on to those who will succeed us the memory of the work others have done in the world, work whose impact extends beyond a single lifetime and whose importance can only be realized over the very long term. The Jewish engagement with ancient texts teaches us to expand our time frame beyond the tens of years given to an individual to the hundreds and thousands of years of history that records those who preceded us, those who struggled to amass wisdom, to advocate for justice, and to shape the world to be more like the divine vision enshrined in Torah. Whatever challenges we face in our lives, we draw strength from the knowledge that we are part of a great chain of being, a vision of a world redeemed that existed for thousands of years before we were born and will, God willing, stretch on beyond our lifetimes for thousands of years into the future. May that knowledge, and the blessings of the memories we carry, ennoble our all-too-brief time on this earth.