May 2020 Jewish Spirituality of Memory
We recently observed the holiday of Yom Hoshoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. We are commanded to remember the 6 million lives and this enormity of this with this simple word: Zachor – remember.
Zachor also applies to other Jewish traditions as well.
We remember our loved ones by saying Kaddish and observing yarzheits year after year.
We remember the Exodus from Egypt and many other experiences of our ancestors through the cycle of our holidays.
And we are commanded to remember Shabbat. Zachor et yom hashabat l’kodsho – remember Shabbat and keep it holy – we learn in Exodus
So what is the spiritual meaning behind this commandment to remember? What are we supposed to do with these memories? How is remembering meant to impact us? What is it’s purpose?
To me the spiritual message of Zachor – remember – has at least 3 elements.
First Memory is a connection.
When we remember our loved ones, when we remember our Jewish traditions, it teaches us where we come from, our story, our history, our values our prioirites.
These memories help to shape our identity – who we are and what is our purpose in here in this life.
Second Memory teaches us about time. It reminds us that time passes and no moment can be taken for granted. When we look back at how many times we’ve celebrated a seder or said kaddish for a loved one, we see the flow of years and remember that time is precious.
Third Memory is a motivator. We when look at our memories many are full of love and joy.
They are memories we want to repeat and recreate.
And other memories are more difficult, things we may want to forget or move away from.
Either way – memory motivates us in the choices we make for our lives – probably on a daily basis – probably in ways we may not recognize.
So as we go into this Shabbat together – I invite you to think about the Jewish value of Memory.
What memories are most precious to you?
How do they shape you?
What memories do you hope others have of you?
What memories are you grateful others have provided for you?
I’m sure you can think of many ways this Jewish value of memory impacts your life.
I’d love to hear from you.
Shoot me a quick text or an email about a memory that has an impact on you.
Or maybe there is a new set of memories you are creating now during this quarantine time.
I’d love to hear about it!
I know this mitzvah of memory is one important element of being Jewish that adds spirituality and meaning to our lives.