Many thanks to Rick Hornung for graciously volunteering to lead Scrollers this Shabbat. Rick’s preview is below. Shabbat Shalom!
“And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt; therefore I command thee to do this thing.”
“Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way ye came forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way and smote the hind most of thee, all that were enfeebled in the rear, when thou was faint and weary; and he, feared not God. Therefore, it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget.”
“Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed.
Neither be confounded,
for thou shalt not be put to shame;
For thy shall forget the shame of thy youth,
and the reproach of thy widowhood
shalt thou remember no more.”
wə·zā·ḵar·tā … rendered in Dt. 24:22 as thou shalt remember
lo tiš·kah…rendered in Dt. 25:9 as thou shalt not forget
tiš·kā·ḥî…rendered in Is. 54:4 as thy shall forget
ṯiz·kə·rî…rendered in Is. 54:4 as shalt thou remember
This week, as we continue our turn towards the high holidays, our Torah portion, Ki-Teitzei, Dt. 21:10 – 25:19, and our Haftarah, Isaiah 54:1-10, offer us an opportunity to reflect upon the similarities and differences between the commandments, or imperatives, to remember, to forget and not to forget.
In Dt. 24:22, the divinely inspired, direct command to remember our servitude emerges out of our redemption and deliverance. In many ways, memory is an inextricable element of freedom. In these verses, memory is an affirmation.
In 25:17-19, the divinely inspired, direct commands to remember (v.17) and not forget (v.19) are tied together by a deliverance or rest from enemies or battle. The imperatives to remember and not forget emerge from a context of defeat and ambush, fear and battle, vengeance and conquest. In these verses, memory and not forgetting serve as both weapons or shields — instruments of conflict and protection.
In Is. 54:4, the prophet preaches of memory and not forgetting as intimate acts of accountability and reflection, openings of wounds to be healed.
By focusing on remembering, forgetting and not forgetting, I hope to examine a few of the verses about the rule of law and the order of family life, the treatment afforded the stranger and the captive, conquest and punishment, displacement and restoration.
When and what are we commanded to remember and what? When and what are we commanded not to forget and what? When and what are we commanded to forget?