How often are we told encouragingly, or approvingly, that we are “making memories”? It is considered, for the most part, a good thing to be “making memories.” For example, when we spend quality time with our children, we are “making memories.” When we host a Shabbat dinner, or simply gather ourselves together around the Shabbat table, we are “making memories.” If we bring ourselves, and our children, to the Megillah reading this coming Wednesday night, we will be “making memories.”
Of course, every now and then, we may have to “add memory” to our electronic devices because so many of us like to record our memories… and to store them in our artificial memories!
This Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbat of Remembrance. In our special maftir Torah reading, we are told to remember an ancient memory recorded in the Torah. We are to remember Amalek – the nation that attacked the stragglers, the weak, and the marginal members of the Israelite society during the trek through the desert on the way to the Promised Land. For no reason at all, Amalek targeted those elements of Israelite society.
The Torah tells us to remember how our ancestors were called to stand up to defend the innocent people who were attacked by Amalek.
Making personal memories is good, but our Torah reminds us that recalling and retaining certain Jewish communal character-building memories is also crucial to giving our lives meaning!
It is a special mitzvah to hear the chanting of the maftir reading for Shabbat Zachor each year, as it is read from the Torah scroll on the Shabbat that precedes Purim. I hope you will join us at services this Shabbat morning to hear this special reading.
It is not what is stored in our artificial memories that molds our character. It is what we retain in our very human minds and hearts that provides us with inspiration, gives us direction, and sustains our lives with a sense of holy purpose.
May our personal and communal memories give us strength and direction, meaning and purpose as we move through this Shabbat and on to our celebration of Purim this coming Wednesday night!