Today I went to the beach and I saw a sailboat. It reminded me of times in my childhood when my family used to go to a little inn on a lake in Connecticut. My father used to rent a sunfish sailboat and take us around the lake. That memory sparked a second memory of when it was pretty windy on the lake. The wind blew my father’s hat into the water and he couldn’t manage to get the sailboat to catch up with it. It was a hat that he cherished from his days in the Israeli Army and it upset him greatly. As a young boy, I was sad for my father and I felt helpless.
This slew of memories today helped me realize how insightful Rebbe Nachman’s most precious piece of advice is.
Why did the sight of the sailboat remind me of that traumatic story? My father took me on the sailboat more than once. I had great times with him on that lake. Why don’t I remember those times as easily?
The Rebbe told his followers to never stop reviewing Azamra (Torah 282), in which he teaches to search out and hunt for the good points in yourself and in others. Why did he hold that finding the good was so important? He had other great advice too. Why was his instruction to always review this idea? I think, maybe, in his wisdom he realized that the negative is so easily and readily apparent in our minds. Just one look at a sailboat and – boom – I remembered a sad day in my life. But the positive days and the happy memories don’t flood in with the same ease and speed. Many times they’re a lot harder to remember and access. So we need to constantly work on this technique of remembering the good. It’s all there, but we need to do a little searching to find it. King David sings ״You placed happiness in my heart” (Psalms 4). It’s there for us to remember, but the Rebbe knew that if we want to access it, we need to get good at looking for it.
(published on TikkunHaklali.net)