Memories and Remembrances
In this week's Parshah, we find two of the six Zechiros, from the root "Zachor," "to remember," subjects which we are to remember on a daily basis.
The first is to remember the punishment of Tzaraas, a leprosy-like condition which existed only in Biblical times, with which G-d afflicted Miriam, as a punishment for transgressing the prohibition of leshon hara , critical speech directed against another person. The object of her speech was none other than her brother, Moshe, whose life she had saved when, as a baby, he was set afloat on the Nile to a very uncertain fate, and after whose song of praise to G-d at the Red Sea, she had led the Israelite women in similar praise of G-d.
The issue was Moshe's divorce of Tzipporah; the listener was her brother, Aharon, and her hope was to effect a reconciliation between Moshe and Tzipporah. She was relying on Aharon's gifts at reconciliation, between marriage partners or any other pair or group of people, once close, but between whom discord had arisen. She also hoped to use her own experience, which she had gained when she'd persuaded her father, Amram, to retake Yocheved after he had divorced her in despair, as a response to Pharaoh's murderous decree that all Jewish male babies be killed.
In her zeal to defend Tzipporah, she had failed to appreciate Moshe's special status as the Master of the Prophets, and his special relationship with G-d. Moshe had to be "on call" to G-d at all times, and therefore could never leave the state of taharah, ritual purity, which put him in a personal situation which was incompatible with marriage.
The second Zechira involves the attack by Amalek upon the Jewish People while the rest of the world was in a state of terror and awe. Amalek, in a frenzy of misguided self-sacrifice, threw itself, so to speak, into boiling water, in order to cool the water off in the eyes of the nations. Cowardly at heart, they attacked the weakest members of the People of Israel, showing contempt for G-d, and aligning themselves with the forces of evil.
Hashem commands the Jewish People, in Parshat Zachor, the only section of the Torah which it is Biblically incumbent upon all Jews to hear, to destroy Amalek; He declares an unending war against Amalek, the enemy of G-d, the Torah and Israel.
The other four Zechiros are the Exodus from Egypt, our physical birth as a nation, the Revelation at Sinai, our spiritual birth, the incident of the Golden Calf, where we, as it were, betrayed G-d while still under the chupah, the "bridal canopy" of Sinai, and the holy Day of Shabbos.
The Mussaf Shemoneh Esrei of Rosh HaShanah contains three sections which, perhaps, capture best the essence of the great holiday:
"Malchiyos," or "Kingliness," which expresses the view of G-d as Righteous King of the Universe, Who has absolute power; "Vas er vil, tut er," "Whatever He wills, He can do;" and yet, he is the Source of Morality, on the side of the "underdog," the orphan, the widow and the stranger. We express the hope that ultimately the world will be perfected "under the Kingdom of G-d," meaning that all nations will come to the realization that the One Who is the G-d of Israel now is really the G-d of All the World.
"Zichronos," or " Remembrances," which speaks of G-d as the One Who "remembers all the deeds done, ever, in the world" and for whom "there is no forgetfulness...before His Throne of Glory."
"Shofaros," or "Rams Horns," which alludes to the Revelation of G-d at Sinai "You revealed Yourself in the Cloud of Your Glory on Your Holy Mountain, to Speak with them." At that time, "The Mountain burned with fire till the Heart of Heaven," and the Sound of the Ram's Horn "was a Great Sound which Resonated without End."
In "Zichronos," "Remembrances," we ask that, on the Day of Judgment, G-d, out of the infinite store of memories available to Him, remember us only for good. That He remember not our betrayals, but rather our loyalty "the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me into the desert, into barren land." Not to remember how we angered Him, but how He cherished us, "Ephraim is my most precious son, a delightful child...therefore My inner Self yearns for him, and I will surely take pity on him."
We ask that He remember the covenantal relationship which He established with our forefathers and the mighty deed which Avraham performed, the Akeidah, when Avraham suppressed his natural feelings of mercy towards his son, and was ready to sacrifice him at G-d's command. So we ask that Hashem suppress His Attribute of Strict Justice, which would require punishment for our misdeeds.
As for us, we thank Him for the gift of forgetfulness, which allows us to carry on despite personal tragedy, whereby after twelve months, the departed loved one is "forgotten from the heart," or at least the paralyzing grief is forgotten.
We thank and praise Him as well for the forgetfulness that He promises in today's Haftarah, where in our ultimate triumph, as we will spread "to the right and to the left," we are assured "Fear not, for you will not be ashamed...For you will forget the shame of your youth, And shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any longer." (Yeshayahu 54:4)
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU[http://18.104.22.168/footer.html]