Israel Forever

For the week ending 29 July 2006 / 4 Av 5766

Learning from the Past

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Those who refuse to learn from the past, it has been wisely said, are doomed to relive it.

The Chumash Devarim, which we begin reading in our synagogues this Shabbat, contains the most important history lesson ever learned by our ancestors and ourselves, taught by the greatest educator of all time, Our Teacher Moshe. As our ancestors stood on the threshold of entering Eretz Yisrael, Moshe, only five weeks before his passing, reviews all the mistakes they made from the time he led them out of Egyptian bondage.

The purpose of this reproof was to prepare the nation for their transformation from a supernatural existence in the wilderness to the challenges of a natural one in their own Land. In a later chapter in Devarim he spells out the disasters that will befall them if they fail to learn the lesson taught by history about those who abandon their G-d.

As we prepare for the Fast of the Ninth of Av, recalling the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash and exile from our Land, we must recall the mistakes made in the past and their tragic consequences. Only then will we draw from the past the wisdom to deal with the future and thus secure forever.

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