In this clip, Rabbi YY Jacobson tells a powerful story about what saved a certain man when he was forced to undergo a death march as a child after his father had just been murdered.
Here’s that story:
What saved this child from total despair was his memory of Shabbat dinner with his family and a story he’d heard his father tell around the table.
What an incredible testament to the importance of cultivating a repository of memories that will give us confidence and consolation when we will, inevitably, have to suffer.
This reminds me of this beautiful passage by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov:
You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.
Rabbi Nissan Mangel’s experience demonstrates that one good memory left in one’s heart can hold a saving power for us.
Do we pay attention to living our lives in such a way that we too will have some memories like this?