In Haazinu we are urged to remember years past and to understand each and every generation (“dor vador”, 32:7) in the context of generations before it. As Rabbi Hirsch suggests, the word meaning “years past” could also mean “understand” (“shenot”). How could understanding the generation help us?
Rabbi Riskin points out that in Shemot there is a similar directive, although the difference is significant. In Shemot, it says “dor lador”, which means “from one generation to the next.” If we combine both phrases, there are two steps to evaluate and approach life situations: One step is to understand the context of the topic from a historical perspective. The second step is to evaluate life as it presents itself, a perspective more deeply rooted in reality as it currently is. While our Passuk focuses on facing current reality, it nevertheless mentions elders that can help guide us through life with their connection to the past that will light our future.
As we embark on a new year, appreciating events in the context of our history will help us both appreciate and navigate whatever issues confront us.