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The Most Important Moment in History

Friday, 8 November, 2019 - 1:26 pm

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Photo by Dario Veronesi on Unsplash

When, in your opinion, was the most important moment in history? Would it be the Revelation at Mount Sinai? Or perhaps the advent of the printing press? Or maybe you would consider the introduction of nuclear energy to be the most significant moment in history.

 

To me it seems that Jewish teachings would regard the present moment as being the most significant moment ever. 

Yes, there were major turning points in history. Yes, they were major characters who played pivotal roles in shaping the world we live in today. However, as far as we personally are concerned, the most significant moment is right now. And the most significant choice is the one I will make right now.

We cannot change the past, but we can shape the future. If we get stuck in the past, if we think of the past to be more significant than the present, then we are giving up the opportunity to shape the future.

And if there is anything that history teaches us it should be to never give up an opportunity that comes our way.

The past may be filled with painful experiences, on a collective basis that is certainly the case. History is replete with accounts of mayhem and murder; pain and suffering seem to be the only constants in human history.

However this should just serve as greater impetus, it should motivate us to ensure that the future is not just more of the same.

We can gain our inspiration from Abraham. Our Torah portion this week begins with the narrative of arguably the single most influential individual in human history by describing his leaving behind his past. G-d tells Abraham to leave his land, his birthplace and his father’s household, in order to journey to a “land that I will show you”.

In order to positively influence the people around him, and future generations, Abraham had to leave behind his previous influences. He had to leave behind his previous comforts and  his previous negative experiences too.

Abraham focused on the future. He did not allow himself to be discouraged by the fact that he was the only individual promoting monotheism. Today, the vast majority of human beings consider themselves to be monotheists.

We should never allow ourselves the comfort and complacency of our supposed inability to influence the world. 

Focus on the past, be distracted by history, notice negative trends and attitudes? Sure, we will be stuck repeating the same patterns. Focus on the potential for the future, the world that G-d intended for our universe to become, and there is nothing that can stop us from making it happen.

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