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In praying for salvation, we invoke the merits of our ancestors, and we also pray that we be helped for the sake of our future generations. The Talmud tells us that God acts towards us as we act towards other people. If we wish Him to judge us because of the merits of the past and the promise of the future, then we must take the past and the future into account in our own actions.
Today’s generation is very much a "now" generation, considering only the thrills of the moment. Much of today’s society turns its back on the traditions and values of the past, and behaves recklessly in exploiting the world for the pleasures of today, even though it pollutes the environment and depletes natural resources needed for the future.
Is it coincidence that our generation is infatuated with digital watches and clocks? Old-fashioned timepieces told time by a pointer, which had the past behind it and the future in front of it. These timepieces symbolized an awareness of both, but a digital display focuses exclusively on the present moment and gives no recognition to the existence of either the past or the future.
While we should not allow the burdens of the past nor the anxieties of the future to exert a destructive effect on our living, the constructive lessons of the past and a responsible attitude towards the future can guide us to a proper and responsible life.