Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

Most people think of forgetting as a serious drawback. But to Rebbe Nachman it has a great advantage. If you did not forget, it would be utterly impossible to serve G-d. You would remember your entire past, and these memories would drag you down and not allow you to raise yourself to G-d.

Whatever you did would be constantly disturbed by your memories of the past. The past is gone forever and never need be brought to mind. Because you can forget, you are no longer disturbed by the past.


It was Rebbe Nachman’s practice never to replay finished business in his mind. He put it out of his mind and never thought of it again.

This is very important to consider when serving G-d. Most people are distressed by past events, especially during prayer. When a person recites their prayers, their thoughts are constantly disturbed by memories of the past. They may think about their business or household affairs, worrying whether they did something wrong or neglected something important. While attempting to serve G-d through prayer or study, they might become troubled by their many sins and shortcomings. This is a universal problem, and each person knows their own difficulties.

The best advice for this is simply to forget. As soon as an event is over with, forget it completely and never think about it again. Understand this well, for it is a very important concept.

In our sacred literature, we find that G-d gave us the power to forget so we can always appreciate the Torah just as we did the first time we learned it (Kohelet Rabbah 1:34). Because you forget, you can re-learn or review a lesson, and it is like learning it anew. Therefore, you appreciate it as much as the first time.

A good illustration is provided by men hired to fill leaky barrels. The more they pour into the barrels, the more leaks out. The fools complain, “Why are we working in vain? What good is it to fill the barrels if it all leaks out?”

But the wise ones reply, “What difference does it make? Don’t we get paid for every day we work? If the barrels leak, our wages are not reduced.”

The same is true of your sacred studies. You might forget them, but your reward is not reduced.

In the future, G-d will make everyone remember everything he ever learned, even if it was forgotten during his lifetime (Zohar I, 185a). This is also true of lessons heard from the lips of a true tzaddik and not understood. In the world to come, they will be comprehended (Tzaddik #388).

The Torah exists mainly for the soul. In the future life, all souls will remember and understand everything they heard and studied in this world.

Happy will be those who fill their days with much Torah and devotion.

(Adapted from Sichos HaRan #26)


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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at