To Forget Means to Die – to Remember, to Live
by Petra van der Zande
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In Israel, the week after the Pesach (Passover) holiday, the memorial days begin. The first one on the list is the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
According to the Jewish calendar the new day starts at sunset, thus memorial services begin in the evening with the sounding of the (air-raid) sirens. For one minute many people stand at attention, either at home or when they are on the streets. Traffic comes to a standstill and many people stand with bowed heads next to their cars.
Nationwide, schools have special programs dealing with this tragic period in human history, and dignitaries participate in more memorial services and candle lightning ceremonies. A 2-minute siren can be heard during the morning hours, calling the people to remember.
A week later the Jewish people have another memorial day – for the fallen soldiers in Israel’s many wars, including the many innocent people killed by terrorist attacks. When the sun sets on the evening of this Memorial Day, the sadness is replaced by joy – the Independence Day celebrations begin. This year, 2008, Israel celebrates her 60th anniversary.
Remember! It’s an active verb!
Webster’s Dictionary describes is as “something that is kept alive in the memory, so that it can be called to conscious thought without effort.”
A variation is to recall/recollect, but this implies some effort or will to bring something back to mind.
When you remember, or tell others of past events or experiences in your own life, then you “reminisce”.
Remember in the Old Testament
The Hebrew word for remember, think of, mention is “Zachar”. We read it for the first time in Genesis 8:1. “God remembered Noah.”
The LORD tells Noah in Genesis 9:15, “I will remember my covenant.” The rainbow reminds us of God’s promise to mankind.
God acts in remembrance of His covenant promises.
God remembered Abraham, His people. “I heard their groaning… remembered My covenant…” (Exodus 6:5-6).
God’s promise to remember is repeated by the covenant he made on Mount Sinai, when the Israelites became a people. (Leviticus 26:40-45). Psalm 98:3; 105:8; 42; 106:45 mentions the fact that God remembers His covenant.
In Ezekiel 16:60 God remembers His promise to restore His people and bring them back from captivity.
“I forgive their iniquity, I will remember their sin no more,” Jeremiah 31:34 says.
Unfortunately for Joseph, but part of God’s plan for his life, Pharaoh’s butler forgot Joseph’s request, “remember, mention” me to Pharaoh. (Genesis 40:14).
God commands His people to:
• “Remember this day when you came out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:3)
• “Remember the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:8)
• Above all, “to remember His marvelous works.” (Psalm 105:5; 1 Chronicles 16:15).
The Hebrew “Zechor”, “Zikaron”, means remembrance, memorial.
• God said of His covenant name (YHWH = LORD) “this is my memorial unto all generation. (Exodus 3:15; Psalm 30:4; 135:13). The name recalls His acts to fulfill His Covenant.
• God’s people were commanded to “remember Amelek.” (Exodus 17:14).
• The bronze layer that covered the altar (Numbersc 16:40) and the heap of stones near the Jordan River (Joshua 4:7; 20-24) served as perpetual memorials to the sons of Israel.
• Two “memorial stones” inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes were part of the priest’s ephod.
• Before the Israelites went into battle, the people sacrificed sheep and trumpets were blown. “May they be a memorial before your God.” (Numbers 10:9,10)
The Greek word “anamimnesko” is used in an active voice, and means to remind, call to ones mind.
“Anamnesis” is remembrance. The word is still used today by doctors when referring to the patient’s medical history.
When you suffer from “Amnesia”, you are forgetful, and have difficulty remembering.
When believers celebrate communion, we are told to “Do this in remembrance of Me!” (1 Corinthians 11:24,25)
“Forgetfulness leads to exile, while remembrance is the secret of redemption.” (Baal Shem Tov – founder of Chassidism.)
Visitors leaving the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Israel, are reminded by those same words, written above the exit.
For the Jewish people, remembrance is an integral part of their lives.
• Memorial lights are lit in memory of deceased relatives. This practice is based on Proverbs 20:27, “The soul of man is a lamp for the LORD.” Originating from medieval Germany, the practice spread to other communities. Because memorial lights must burn 24 hours, special candles are used in metal or glass holders.
• Memorial services and their special prayers (Hazkarah) memorialize the dead and express the hope their souls may be granted eternal repose. We read about this ancient practice in 2 Maccabees 12:43. Judah Maccabbee tells the people “… to pray for the dead and make atonement for them, so that they might be cleared of their sin.” In Talmudic times these “hazkaroth” had become accepted customs.
• Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “…don’t forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”(NIV)
In Judaism, remembrance is seen in a positive light. It doesn’t inflict guilt or exact vengeance, but evokes positive action in light of the negative things that have befallen someone. E.g. hospital walls are full of plaques from donors, who often in this way honor the memory of a loved one.
Rosemary is not only is used in cooking, but has even better qualities. Everywhere, in Israel’s city parks and in the wild, you find Rosemary shrubs. It’s a member of the mint family, and the evergreen shrubs have a pungent aromatic fragrance. The ancient people already knew about its reputation for strengthening the memory. Modern day scientists have proven that Rosemary’s scent is an effective memory stimulant.
Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.”
We too must never forget our Savior, Who rose from the dead, Who is our Source and supplier of all our needs. And may we never forget God’s goodness towards His people and to us. Remember! And live!
The Encyclopedia of Judaism
Vines Expository dictionary of O.T. and N.T. words
Internet: garden/botanical guides
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Wow, learned a lot here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.