Rabbi Label Lam
Watch yourself, lest you forget Hashem, your G-d, by not observing His
ordinances and His decrees, which I command you today. ( Devarim 8:11)
Why doesn't the Torah express the commandment mentioned above in a more
affirmative language? We could be reminded to remember Hashem and not in
the form of not forgetting. What is the difference between being told to
remember and being told not to forget?
The Dubner Maggid, one of the great raconteurs of all time, told the
following cute story that may help us understand. A certain person was
deep in debt to many people. He was presently incapable of paying back all
of his creditors. He didn't know exactly how to face all the people owed
serious money and how he was to develop an equitable formula for paying
each back partially. Would they even accept the offer of a partial payment
or would they each insist on the total?
One of the debtors to whom he owed the largest sum approached him and
offered a brilliant strategy to escape partially from his quandary. He
gave him the genius advice to feign madness when one of the others came to
his door. They would realize that the pressure had driven him crazy and
give up hope of recovering any part of their loss.
When the first creditor knocked on the door and demanded his 50 thousand
dollars the fellow started scratching himself like a chimpanzee, screaming
and hopping like a primate. He swung like a monkey from the chandelier and
rolled on the ground chattering the whole time like a while beast. Seeing
this he closed the door in despair and left.
The next man on the stoop insisted he be given his 40 thousand dollars
immediately. Acting like an infant he crawled on the floor calling for
mommy. He then suddenly jumped into the man's arms hugging him and kissing
him while calling him "daddy" excitedly. The man was so shocked and
horrified by the scene he screamed and ran away determined not to return again.
The next one expecting his 60 thousand dollars witnessed the bizarre
spectacle of the indebted acting like a total lunatic. He let saliva run in
his beard and drunkenly swung his arms wildly while shouting
nonsensically. After such a display of total madness he disappointedly let
go hope of ever seeing his money.
Finally the one to who he owed the largest sum, the same one who had given
him the great advice came knocking at the door. Immediately he began one
of his absurd routines. Realizing it was not working he went into his
second act. Then in desperation he acted out the third play only to find
that the creditor stood silently and unmoved by the histrionics. The man at
the door interrupted any future performances by declaring, "Acccchhhhem!
You can't pull this trick on me. I'm the one that gave you the advice!"
The Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart) explains that amongst the things
to be grateful to The
A-lmighty about is the ability He has granted us to forget. If we would
remember everything which has occurred to us as if it were presently
happening we would be in a state of constant pain, embarrassment, and
mourning. Thank G-d A-lmighty we are able to bury bad experiences and not
have to keep living them "in the now." The ability we have to remember
selectively is a profound gift for which we can all feel an abundance of
gratitude. One thing asks The A-lmighty, is to remember that I'm the One
who granted this great gift and gave you this advice, so to speak, to drive
away haunting and negative thoughts. Consequently, be sure not to use it to
Amongst all the forces competing for our time and attention there is one
bill we must always pay. Like the fellow standing on the proverbial limb
of the tree he can saw off any branch within reach, all but one.
Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.