Stagnancy, routine, and repetition of the very same mistakes do not stem only from a failure to examine the past.
They have a deeper cause.
When people cling to the same old conceptions, when aims and goals are determined by past habits, there is no chance for renewed vision.
At most, one can discern various tactical errors that one has made, but the basic strategy remains the same.
Real renewal, a truly new chapter, can spring only from a reassessment of standards.
Only through that is it possible to raise the level of the questions that one asks from the likes of, “What were the mistakes that I made in attempting to reach such-and-such a goal?” to the fundamental question, “What, truly, should I do?”
Toward this end, one must view things from a much wider perspective.
Variables must be considered against the background of truly constant standards; goals must be considered in the light of fundamental assessments.
Policy must be assessed against the backdrop of the nation, and – on a grand scale – the world must be considered in the light of eternity.
Viewing things in this way is likely to be regarded as an escape from the world’s concrete problems of existence to abstract intellectual detachment.
But that is not so. To be too anchored in practicality not only does not uplift man.
It is not even practical. Experience has demonstrated that in all fields and realms, the inability to devote time and resources to the investigation of fundamental questions, to the examination of accepted principles, ultimately leads to destruction by blindness and degeneration.
These questions must be examined regarding factory equipment and army training methods; all the more so must they be asked regarding the aims of life!
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz