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Why We Remember

Posted on January 30, 2018

Mishanichnas Adar marbim b’simchah (Taanit 29). When we enter the month of Adar, we have great joy. After all, Purim will not be long after. This year, Purim is on March 2nd with Erev Purim on March 1st. It is not Purim that I am going to talk about in this piece. It is the Shabbat before Purim, Shabbat Zachor, Shabbat of Remembering. It is on this special Shabbat that we remember what the Amalekites did to the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that the Amalekites attacked the stragglers from behind as the Israelites marched in the desert. But hold on, what is happy about this? Why in the month of Adar do we remember the ugly story and hear the commandment to remember and not to forget. 

First of all, zachor (to remember) is a central part of our Jewish DNA. We are certainly familiar with Yizkor on the holidays, we are used to telling the story of the Exodus every Passover and we tell the story of Esther and Mordechai every Purim. Some people ask why do we insist on remembering? Why don’t we just forget, and forgive? Teshuvah (atonement), an essential part of our religious observance, tells us that to perform teshuva, to get back on the right path, we must recall and face our experiences so that when faced with the same path, we can learn to avoid the mistakes of the past and do the right thing. Perhaps it is this path that Shabbat Zachor is reminding us about in this merry month of Adar. It is like stepping on the glass at a Jewish wedding. In the midst of our joy, we must remember that sometimes in times of sorrow, we reap tears of joy. As the psalmist writes: “You have turned for me my mourning in to dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” (Psalm 30). So, too, with Ta’anit Ester—we fast on the day before Purim to remember that the Jewish people fasted for three days after Haman’s decree.

So after Haman decreed, he de-cried, “Dee-plane, dee-plane” (it’s a little known fact that the rain fell on the plane). Speaking of hot air, did you know that the Shul of Rock is a shul that I never step my foot into. Unless of course, it’s Purim! You think Aliyah is up there wait until Mordechai climbs to the Top of Mount Rock? And then, of course, he and his cousin Ester, “Stick it to the Hay-Man.” So if you’re wondering, “Where Did the Rock Go?” tune in on March 1st Erev Purim and you’ll be “In the Band!”

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