The Hebrew word Zachor – Remember is so often associated with our remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust and the
murder of six million Jews. Yet for over two thousand years Jews have been chanting Zachor six times every morning
after prayers. The early Kabbalists prescribed that we pronounce Six Remembrances every day: 1) To Remember our
Exodus from Egypt, 2) To Remember our Receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, 3) To remember our encounter with the
evil nation of Amalek, 4) To remember the sin of the Golden Calf, 5) To remember what happened to Miriam, the sister of
Moshe, and 6) To remember the holy Shabbat. In honor of the holiday of Shavuot I would like to focus this article on
Remembrance #2 – The Receiving of the Torah at Sinai.
Almost a decade ago a beloved member of Congregation Sons of Israel who has since passed on to the World to Come,
Mr. Paul Rosenberg z”l, a respected attorney, shared with me that he was petitioning a judge to reschedule a court case
which was scheduled on the holiday of Shavuot. Despite Paul explaining to the Jewish judge that it was a Biblically based
holiday and him showing it on a Platt Memorial calendar the judge initially would not budge. The judge remarked, “I
know of the High Holidays Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and even Sukkoth; I also recognize Passover, but I know of no
such holiday as Shavuot and I will not reschedule the court case”. This is precisely why the Torah Deut (25:17-19) states
emphatically ZACHOR – Remember, lest you forget what you saw with your own eyes and penetrated your hearts. And
make this known to your children and grandchildren, the day you stood at Sinai.
The Talmud Pesachim 68b states that the great Rabbi Joseph exclaimed on the holiday of Shavuot, “Were it not for this
day, I would be just another Joseph in the marketplace”. Rabbi Joseph was extolling the eternity of Torah from Sinai.
There have been thousands of Johns, Jacobs and Josephs throughout the millennia that played their individual significant
roles in world history and then exited the world stage forever. Rabbi Joseph and all those that link themselves unto the
Divine Torah of Sinai are attached to the ultimate truth of G-d and therefore stand for, live for and sometimes die for the
Divine truth of Torah that always was, is and will be. The Torah and its truths are eternal.
It has been our national experience over the generations that those Jews that proudly echo the words and sentiments of
Rabbi Joseph and the verses in Deuteronomy are as a rule able to pass on the family treasures of Torah, Mitzvoth as well
as Jewish customs and culture to their children and grandchildren after them. Unfortunately those that do not subscribe to
the teachings of Rabbi Joseph present a less secure and compelling case for Judaism that resonates less and less as time
marches on Ledor Vador. I also believe with a firm faith that if the State of Israel would nationally present our rights to
the land based on Torah from Sinai (like Ben Gurion did) our negotiations with the Palestinians would be eminently more
I am happy to report that in the end the judge did reschedule the court case in deference to the holiday of Shavuot. On
Shavuot there is a custom to stay up all through the night to revel and study our holy Torah in celebration of our having
received it 3323 years ago that night. I invite all of our readers to attend Torah study sessions on Shavuot night at any of
the myriad of synagogues hosting all night learning programs to see and experience firsthand the insight of Rabbi Joseph.
Unfortunately over the millennia there are plenty of Jewish tragedies to commemorate, but thank G-d there are also
positively world changing, ground breaking moments of truth and joy that have helped create and fortify who we are
today and what will be tomorrow.
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