Every person has a private Gan Eden, the Paradise of his or her dreams and youthful ambitions. We all start out with dreams of how our lives will turn out - dreams of love, happiness, fame, and fortune. Dreams of the perfect spouse, perfect children, a picture-perfect life. And of course dreams are the only place where we can achieve perfection, because life, by definition, is imperfect and filled with dissatisfaction.
And so sooner or later we all lose our Eden - lost relationships, lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost time, shattered dreams. Many of us react by spending our lives wishing for the dreams of our youth. We idealize the past and live in it. But of course we cannot return. So we become disillusioned wanderers, searching for our lost paradise, stuck in a painful period of limbo where we cannot go back but also cannot move forward.
The message of this speech is not to despair when we find ourselves outside the Garden. Indeed the secret of Jewish survival rests in the ability of the Jew to reconstruct, to rebuild. We are the “Start-up Nation”.
This theme is true in our marriages as well: When we first fall in love, we live in a magical paradise. With time, the initial magic we experienced tends to pass. No one can stay in that effortless paradise forever. We get dislodged. Yet in truth the deepest magic of love is not first love, but rather continuous love - the love you work to create rather than the love you fall into.
This speech contains several moving stories, including: a conversation with the Rebbe that changed a life; the ancient stone that now serves as a lamppost in Jerusalem, and the Holocaust survivor who donated exactly 22,604 shekels to help save a fellow Jew. The speech concludes with a powerful suggestion to those saying Yizkor of what they should say to their loved ones who have passed on.