From The Scriptures
Do not say, Why were the former days better than these? For it is not wisdom that prompts you to ask this question (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
We often indulge in nostalgia. We may not recognize that the reason
former days were better is because we were younger and did not have the worries and responsibilities of adult life.
In some ways former times were better. There was less pollution, less
violence, less moral decadence, less crowding of the highways, etc. Yet, we would hardly trade elimination of infections by antibiotics, drastic reduction in infant mortality, air conditioning, and all other modern medical and technological advances for the advantages of the former days. These are good reasons for not dwelling on the superiority of former days.
But the real reason for not reflecting on the good old days is because it is pointless. Indeed, it may even be destructive. A person might rationalize, In previous times I could have accomplished this. There were greater rabbis, and conditions were more conducive to achievement. I cannot be expected to perform this way today.
When we do not wish to do something, we may find ways to justify our
behavior. Solomon correctly says that it is not wisdom that prompts the glorification of the past. It is more likely indolence.
From Our Heritage
R Yaakov Berlin (father of the Netziv) once returned from a
trip and brought his wife a fine crystal vase. The wife was thrilled with the gift and was careful while handling it.
One day the cleaning woman accidentally dropped and broke the vase. R Yaakovs wife sharply rebuked the woman for being negligent. Upon hearing the shouting, R Yaakov came in and calmed her down. There
is no point in screaming. If you have a complaint, you may sue her for the damage in a beis din (rabbinic court).
When R Yaakov saw that his wife was indeed taking the woman to the
beis din, he put on his coat to accompany them. I dont need your help, his wife said. I can speak for myself.
R Yaakov said, I dont intend to assist you. I want to help this poor woman, who may not know how to plead her case.