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To Remember or Not to Remember:  That Is the Question!

09/21/2018 07:21:23 AM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

This week's parashah, Parashat Ha'azinu, is a magnificent piece of poetry which is Moshe's final song to B'Nei Yisrael before he leaves them to pass on to the World-To-Come.  One would think that this song would be a song of love and triumph based upon Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the successful arrival at the edge of the Eretz Kena'an, the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land.  But it is not. The fact of the matter is that a great deal of the song consists of Moshe's admonition to B'Nei Yisrael as to how they will break the covenant made with HaShem at Mount Sinai as well as its consequences.

We find the following verse in this parashah: "The Rock Who bore you --- you will forget, and you will disregard the Power Who birthed you."  (Devarim 32:18)  An explanation of this verse is given by the Dubner Maggid by way of the following story: Reuven owed Shimon a large sum of money and lacked the funds needed to repay his debt.  Since Shimon was hounding him to "pay up," Reuven approached his close friend Levi and asked for advice.  Levi instructed him to act as if he were totally insane each time Shimon would approach him for the money.  In that way, said Levi, Shimon would leave him alone.  Sure enough, when Shimon approached Reuven for his money, Reuven did exactly what Levi had told him to do.  And just as Levi said, Shimon left Reuven alone from that day on.  The very next day, Reuven asked Levi to lend him a large sum of money for just a few days, and Levi lent him the money.  One week later when Levi asked Shimon to repay him for the loan, Shimon began to act insane again.  Levi became furious at him and shouted: "I am the one who gave you the idea to use this method.  It is chutzpah for you to use it against me!"

Hashem created forgetfulness for those who have suffered in the past.  If we would clearly remember every bit of suffering that occurred to us in this life, we would never be able to cope with this life.  We would never be able to enjoy the good things in this life because we would always be remembering the pain of the past.  By forgetting the misfortune's of our lives, we can live a happy life in spite of our past sufferings.  But one thing that we should never forget: we should never forget HaShem and our obligations to H-m.  The Dubner Maggid stated that this is the message of this verse.

Every trait and attribute we possess has been given to us by HaShem and can be used for good or for bad.  It is up to us to utilize all that we have been given for only the good.

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781