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לימוד תורה

Do you remember?

The Parasha in our everyday life – Parasha Tetzaveh -Shabbat Zachor 5783

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald- Meir Harel Hesder Yeshiva – Modi’in

The narrative culture of the postmodern era does not consider itself committed to the objective truth. It seems like a 'truth for the time being’ is enough. On the other hand, human reason finds it difficult to accept an exception to logical consistency and continuity. One day one thing is said and if it doesn't work out, then the next day the opposite will be said. Especially when it comes to policies and statements that are based on a world of values. For if the value is objectively true and absolute, it does not change in a polar way. Those who manage policy in the narrative way and for whom the 'truth is for the time being', rely on the public’s 'short memory'. Today’s flood of information pushes away yesterday’s memory.

The nation of Israel is the nation of eternity. It has miraculously existed for more than 3300 years. One of the components of its creation and survival is its 'National and Spiritual Remembrance '. The memory of the founding events of the nation, the memory of our unique identity and our national destiny, and the memory of the commitment to the Jewish way of life to the Torah and Mitzvot. These stand before our eyes as a compass that directs our way through history. Even today this memory is one of the elements of national strength.

The Torah often emphasizes "remembering the exodus from Egypt", because this is the founding national event that is the basis of spiritual and national existence, a root from the past that projects into the future. We must tell the future generations our founding "story" and make sure they teach their children and so on.

There is a strategic importance in preserving and nurturing the national remembrance, and passing it on to future generations. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook ZT’L often emphasized in his teachings the spiritual meaning of "remembrance" (some we heard personally). About the Torah’s obligation to remember the people of Israel’s history:

זְכֹר֙ יְמ֣וֹת עוֹלָ֔ם בִּ֖ינוּ שְׁנ֣וֹת דֹּר־וָדֹ֑ר

“Remember the days of old, Consider the years of ages past”. (Devarim 32:7)

A founding memory, shaping the spiritual and national ethos of the people of Israel. This is a source of strategic strength, the basis of national existence, which must be cultivated. The Rabbi emphasized the meaning of saying the "זכירות" remembrances, mentioned in the Torah, at the end of the prayers (Rav Kook's teachings - Bea’alotcha).

In the Ashkenaz communities they used to say "six remembrances":

1 remembering the Exodus from Egypt;

2 remembering the status of Mount Sinai;

3 remembering Amalek

4 "Remember… how you provoked Hashem to anger in the wilderness”,

זְכֹר֙ ... אֵ֧ת אֲשֶׁר־הִקְצַ֛פְתָּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹקיךָ בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר

5 remember Miriam’s actions, and

6 remembering the Shabbat.

In Sephardic communities, they used to add four more:

1 remembering the miracle of Mana,

2 remembering Balaam’s advice;

וְזָֽכַרְתָּ֙ אֶת ה' אֱלֹקיךָ כִּ֣י ה֗וּא הַנֹּתֵ֥ן לְךָ֛ כֹּ֖חַ לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת חָ֑יִל

3 “Remember that it is Hashem who gives you the power to get wealth” and

4 remembering Jerusalem.

On Shabbat Zachor we read the Parasha:

זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק

Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey…” (Devarim 25:17) remembering Amalek who attacked us in the exodus from Egypt, who plotted our destruction in the days of Haman and Achashverosh, and who tried and continues to try to destroy us throughout the generations. And the fresh memory of the Nazi Amalek. There are also those who try to forget this memory. We not only remember in our thoughts but also gather to 'remember out loud'

 הָא מָה אֲנִי מְקַיֵּים ״זָכוֹר״ — בַּפֶּה.

"Therefore, it means that the remembrance must be expressed out loud, with the mouth”. (Megillah 18a) - by reading in the Sefer Torah. This is a mandatory commandment from the Torah:

מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ זָכוֹר בַּפֶּה לֹא תִּשְׁכָּח בַּלֵּב. שֶׁאָסוּר לִשְׁכֹּחַ אֵיבָתוֹ וְשִׂנְאָתוֹ

“The Oral Tradition teaches: ...Remember' - with your mouths; ...Do not forget' - in your hearts.' For it is forbidden to forget our hatred and enmity for them " (Rambam Mishneh Torah - Kings and Wars 5:5)

In addition to the specific memory of Amalek's hatred, we highlight the miracle and the importance of remembering the mere existence of the people of Israel. These days it takes on a new meaning, to demand a values-based and consistent leadership that does not zigzag and relies on our short memory.

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook ZT’L saw in the essence of memory, the fundamental religious difference between Israel and the nations:

גּ֝וֹיִ֗ם שְׁכֵחֵ֥י אֱלֹהִֽים

“…all the nations who ignore G-d” (Psalms 9:18)

as opposed to them, we are the people of memory, who remember the Master of the Universe,

הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּה' אֱלֹקיכֶ֑ם

“…who held fast to Hashem.” (Devarim 4:4), etc.

The more the negation of forgetting appears, the more the remembrance is revealed." And he emphasized the component of memory as a stepping stone in our spiritual world: "We are not forgetful, we remember the Master of the Universe, we remember the entire Torah, we remember the value of our lives, and from this we have spiritual and ideal strength to find out the accounts of our lives and the way of life that is suitable for us”. (Rav Kook's teachings-Mishpatim)

Long-term memory is a test on importance and meaning. The memory of the past reflects the awareness of its deep meaning. Meaningful things are not forgotten, and those that have no meaning are easy to forget. And on the contrary, whoever forgets a certain thing, it means it was not important enough for him. Sometimes the meaning of forgetting is not in the loss of memory - but in the behavior that denies and ignores the past and its consequences.

In the remembrance lies the secret for redemption.

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