Historical perspective should humble us. It should make us realize how little we understand the true nature of what is going on around us. But it should also make us realize that things truly worthwhile have a staying power. Perhaps this is the wisdom encapsulated by the brilliant advice of R. Yochanan ben Zakkai that if, while planting a tree, one finds out that the Messiach has arrived, one should first finish the work at hand and only then go to greet him (Avot de R. Natan).
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