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Two Minutes of Torah: Shelach - Helping us Remember

As I get older I find that my memory has got progressively worse and I forget a lot of things.  Today I live my life according to a “To Do” list, I have one for work and I have one at home; and if something doesn't make it onto my To Do list then it's very unlikely that it will ever get done.  Different people use different methods to ensure that they remember; I always liked the idea of having a handkerchief and tying a knot in it to remind me that there was something I needed to do; the problem for me is that I would remember there was something I needed to do, but I'd probably forget what it was.

In this week's Torah portion we discover that the purpose of the tzitzit was originally to help the Israelites remember. We read that: “Adonai said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner.  That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge.  Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God” (Num. 15:37-40).   

We often think about tzitzit as a way of identifying a person is Jewish, but originally it was an aid to memory.  Whenever the Israelites saw the fringes on their garments they would remember God's commandments and they would observe them.  Today in our world while there are some who do still wear the tzitzit, many people keep them tucked in, if they wear them at all, and so we might wonder how do we remember the values by which we want to live our lives today. 

I'm not sure it's an aid to remember all of the Commandments that we need in our lives, instead I think it's an aid that will help us to be mindful and remember the values that are most important to us in the way that we live our lives.  We might choose to wear the tzitzit to fulfill this function.  Perhaps we choose to wear an item of jewelry, maybe something given to us by a person who embodied those values.  We could look at the jewelry and remember the way that we should be living our lives, or there might be other methods that we employ.  

The important thing about the tzitzit, or whatever substitute we choose, is that it is a way to be mindful and to remember those things that are truly important in the decisions we make and the actions we take. 

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