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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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FF Syndrome: Frequent = Forgotten

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Perhaps, our sages understood this so profoundly, when they instructed that we not only think about what should be frequent, but actually acknowledge it verbally almost every time we are commanded to “remember” anything;

–“Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it” [Shemot 20:8] invokes a Jew to not only remember, but to utter Kiddush [the sanctification of the day verbally each Friday night] [Tractate Berachot  20b; Rambam’s Code, Laws of Shabbat, 29:1].

–“You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt” [Devarim 25:17] commands that we read the passage each year, describing the travesties and tragedies this nation brought upon the Jewish people [Tractate Megilla 18a; Rambam’s Code, Laws of Kings 5:5].

Remember this day, when you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…” [Shemot 13:3] commands us to say the words of the Haggadah [the story of the emergence from bondage to freedom each Seder night each year] [Rambam’s Code, Laws of Chametz and Matza 7:1.]

Indeed, it’s rather easy to forget within a year the events of Pesach and those of Amalek [Tractate Berachot 58b], or even to forget the sanctity and uniqueness of each 7th day from one Shabbat to the next. But these are not only once-a-week or once-a-year commands. Each morning, 365 days a year, we begin our prayers with the following blessings, ordained by our sages [Tractate Berachot 60b]:

.כי מתער, אומר: אלהי, נשמה שנתת בי טהורה…ברוך אתה ה’ המחזיר נשמות לפגרים מתים

.כי שמע קול תרנגולא, לימא: ברוך אשר נתן לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה

.כי פתח עיניה, לימא: ברוך פוקח עורים

…כי לביש, לימא: ברוך מלביש ערומים

When one gets up, one says; “My G-d, the soul that you’ve given me in pure….blessed be you G-d who returns souls to dead bodies.

When you hear the rooster, you say “blessed who has given the rooster the ability to distinguish between day and night.

When you open your eyes, you say “blessed who opens eyes……

…when you get dressed you say “blessed who dresses the naked.

The rooster crows in the morning, you can get up off your bed, you woke up, you got dressed, and these warrant no less then an outright blessing, with the holy name of God we dare not use in vain?

What’s the big deal?

But that seems to be the point – precisely because it happens each morning, we must utter a blessing. 

It seems rather consistent that in the eyes of our sages, anything that’s frequent can be easily forgotten, and even more naturally left unacknowledged! Thus, our sages commanded that a blessing be made over them…each day, knowing only too well how easily we can forget the extraordinary privileges we have…right under our noses. After all, let’s just imagine the day when…they won’t be there.

–Imagine the morning when we can’t get out of bed, due to a broken leg or fractured back.  Think of the intent you’ll feel when you say “zokef kifufim” [straightens the crooked] when you get better!

–Let’s say a mosquito penetrated your window at night, and thus you awaken to a swelled up eye due to an allergic reaction. I would love to be in the room with you, after this predicament is over,  when you say “pokeach ivrim” [give sight to the blind] the next morning.

Perhaps the tragedy of the Human Being, so connected to incoming emails and calls, is that being so connected to the latest news and every email, we somehow miss what’s right under our noses.

So I urge you – disconnect from all distractions once a year, or better yet, once a day for just a half hour, so you can connect to what’s right there. Don’t allow the frequent to become forgotten, but rather use the gift of speech to connect to all that is there.

Don’t wait for the eulogy at the funeral parlor to acknowledge what you had, but today, right now, acknowledge them while you have them frequently with you. Perhaps Tevye can say “After twenty-five years It’s nice to know” that his wife loves him. Let’s not wait that long.

About the Author: Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein is Director of training and placement at The Straus-Amiel Institute at Ohr Torah Stone.


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