Lessons from the past for the new year


As the High Holy Days approach, it’s a good time to revisit excerpts from my book, “Pathfinding: Seven Principles for Positive Living.”

In the book, which was published in 2002, I write, “Learning from the past is earning from the past. The dividends of the positive lessons we’ve learned are the currency of our future.

“Stephen Pavuk, a guest on my radio program and coauthor of ‘The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs,’ sums up the overall benefits of preserving family histories through writing.

“ ‘The benefit of all this overflows from the one who writes the memoirs. People learn from that person. They begin to see the good qualities in that person. It’s sort of like the ripple on the pond when you throw a rock in,’ he said. ‘It just flows into their families. It flows beyond that out into the world and then it flows to their descendants, to future generations. The benefits are both immediate and long-lasting.’

“This rock that causes the ripples is the weight of our own special heritage as we throw ourselves into the pool of life. We cause ripples by jumping, character first, into a world of characters who have their own heritage to honor or neglect.

“As I uncovered stories of my heritage through my father, I caught a glimpse into my past and an understanding of why I was taught certain lessons.”

Reflecting on those lessons before Rosh Hashanah is healing for me, and a good way to prepare for the coming new year.

Here is a story that my father told me, which is also in my book:

“Whenever we stayed with my grandmother, she would always tell us a story about a little boy and girl who, while walking through the woods, found a little boy who was crying. When they asked him why he was crying, he said he was hungry, so they took him home, made sure he ate and then they brought him to his own home.

“My grandmother’s story was intended to emphasize that the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) teaches us to perform mitzvahs (Hebrew word for a kind deed or considerate act). Now this is probably true in all religions, but in Judaism the purpose of mankind is to do good in the world. The phrase in Hebrew is Tikkun Olam, which means to repair the world.

“The Kabbalah, which is a book of ancient Hebrew mysticism, likens the whole picture of life to a king who creates a beautiful castle with magnificent rooms, exquisite furniture, gourmet foods and fully-stocked libraries, yet no one comes to enjoy them. He waits his entire life for people to taste of the fruits of his labors.

“This is true of life, where we do not make use of all the good things that are available to us.”

As I think about this story and other lessons from my father, I realize that enjoying our lives as we go through the process of learning lessons is just as important as the lessons themselves.

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, and is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award.

Raskin, Healthy Living