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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

If We Could Just Remember

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם

Parshat Ki Teitzei is a parsha that I want to return to over and over again. Included in this Parsha is an assortment of laws (54, according to Sefer Hachinuch) some of which protect the needy and provide the justice spoken about last week in Parshat Shoftim. Toward the end of the parsha we are asked to remember that we once escaped slavery. Our collective memory of hardship and slavery and being redeemed is central to our identity as a people. Perhaps some of the laws presented in Parshat KI Teitzei are an outgrowth of recollections of slavery and injustice, and these are the root of the laws governing kindness and fairness in personal dealings and in business. Memory is central. What does it mean to make collective memory central to our identity and how is it done?

If We Could Just Remember

If we would just remember where we came from maybe everything would fall into place

** **

If we could just put all those things we need to remember;

those laws, teachings and experiences, and organize them like a deck of cards. We'd firmly hold them in our hands, stacked in a neat little pile,

easily categorized into dos and do nots; maybe then we’d be closer to

completion, perfection, for isn’t that what we are looking for

and what God wants for us?

If we remembered,

perhaps we would be better and wiser; Laying cards on the table,

cards played many times before; lessons played out through the generations

from those who have already learned how to play. Lessons as plain as day, yet so hard to learn. It is such a challenge to remember.

Which are the low cards and which are the high? Which are the most valuable and which can be dealt away? Which to hold in our hands for safe keeping and which to be placed face-down on the pile

to be lost in the deck

and discovered during the next game. It’s hard to know the answers. We are asked to remember. To play by the rules of the game to play our hands Correctly Wisely Perhaps with guile

or at least with good will, If we could just remember all the rules And if we could just forget our past missteps; not let them stand in our way If we could take the rules of the card game and cradle them somewhere

in the most accepting nook of our hearts Perhaps that place is our soul? Perhaps we would play the game better Smoother Softer, Steadier? To remember or forget?

Is it our choice?

Fear not, Do not despair, Though your game is imperfect, there is yet time to learn; time to get it right. To shuffle the cards again,

order them tightly and open up a new space. To remember where we came from, the rules of the game the whys and the how’s in a game that can last forever.


You hold the deck in your hands.

There is always now.

you can always learn how.


וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ מִשָּׁ֑ם עַל־כֵּ֞ן אָנֹכִ֤י מְצַוְּךָ֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּֽה׃ {ס}        

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that your God יהוה redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

Deuteronomy 24:18 (Translation from Sefaria)

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