Monday, May 20, 2013


Numbers 8:1−12:16

Trying To Remember The Reason I Forgot

Being constantly engaged in learning allows us to guard against the pervasive forgetfulness around us.
By Rabbi Bradley Artson
The human mind presents us with both a marvel and a mystery.

Capable of mastering a remarkable range of complex tasks, of remembering obscure experiences or facts, that same organ will also forget an important appointment, an acquaintance's name, or the contents of this morning's breakfast. Simultaneously able to outperform a computer in our manipulation of data into concepts, each of us also faces the unpleasant reality that we continually forget information we desperately desire or need.

Anyone who has reviewed notes taken in college or remarks scribbled in the margins of books read years ago has admitted to the enormity of what is routinely forgotten. It is not uncommon for authors to report rereading their own writing after the passage of several years with the uncomfortable sense that they are no longer the masters of what those essays or books contain.

Today's Torah portion hints at this problem, and the rabbinic tradition suggests a remarkable reason for such frustrating lapses of memory. In our portion, Moses "told the people of Israel that they should keep the Passover." Nothing surprising here, Moses often tells the Jewish people what they should or should not be doing.

But the midrash Sifrei Bamidbar objects that, in this case, the information he conveys is redundant. Didn't the Torah already relate in the Book of Leviticus that "Moses declared the festival seasons of the Lord to the people of Israel?" So why does he have to repeat himself now?

Continue reading.

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