#BlogElul 14 – Remember
Another name for the day (which is not called Rosh HaShanah anywhere in the Torah) is Yom Teru’ah, the day of shofar blowing. On Shabbat, we don’t blow the shofar, and we say that it is a day of zikhron teru’ah, a day of remembering the sound of the shofar. Isn’t Judaism fascinating?
The Torah is full of things we are required to remember. The Shabbat is pre-eminent among them, of course.
In the Exodus version of the Ten Commandments, we are told:
ז זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, לְקַדְּשׁוֹ.7 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
As the essayist Ahad Ha’am famously said, more than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.
At the other end of the spectrum is the paradoxical demand to erase the memory of Amalek from under the sky, “do not forget”. Don’t forget to wipe out memory.
Fortunately the Rabbis were just as perturbed by this genocidal requirement as we are, and they found ways to make sure we could never identify anyone for sure as Amalek, just to keep the crazies in check. We read the commandment and we talk about it, so we remember. But as is typical of Rabbinic interpretations of Torah-mandated capital punishment, we don’t actually do it.
Maybe the most important thing to remember on Rosh HaShanah is that we are all human, that we all make mistakes and that we are all worthy of forgiveness. Sometimes we forget that. We should all tie a little knot around our finger to remind us of our humanity.
Of course, there are other ways to purify your soul. But they might be a little too painful. Maybe remembering to go to shul would be a better idea.