Did you know that Rosh HaShanah is the original Yom HaZikaron (the State of Israel's Day of Remembrance)? Memory is a recurring theme in the Rosh HaShanah liturgy, which is why one of its four names is Yom HaZikaron, or Day of Remembrance. The Zikhronot section of the Mussaf Amidah makes a claim that we are all remembered - ourselves as individuals, as well as our biblical ancestors - and that, even if the Divine sits as King on a lofty throne, every one of us is considered and remembered by God. The prayer lists a series of verses that highlight instances in the Torah when God remembered us:
- In the Torah, God demonstrates that God remembers people by intervening in the world - by stopping the flood to ensure Noah's survival, enabling Sarah to give birth, saving the Israelites from slavery, and beyond. Have you felt remembered by God in moments of pain or struggle? Did you feel like there was a hidden intervening hand somewhere?
- The prayer asks that God remember us for our kindness (selective memory). The Jewish tradition challenges us to imitate God. In what ways can we bring the Godly trait of remembering others' kindness to our own lives? Are there people in your life who have disappointed you and leave you feeling unsettled? How can you go about remembering their kindness instead?
- Sometimes, it's easier for others to remember our good traits and actions than it is for us to remember them for ourselves; we oftentimes remain fixated on our flaws. When you think about your own life - over the past one year, or ten years - what are some things you are most proud of that you think God would want you to remember? What would God hope that you you forgive about yourself and forget?
ZICHRONOT - by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, https://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2015/06/new-poems-for-the-shofar-service.html
God, remember us—
not only our mistakes
but our good intentions
and our tender hearts.
Remember our ancestors
who for thousands of years
have asked forgiveness
with the wail of the ram's horn.
Today again we open ourselves
to the calls of the shofar
reminding us sleepers, awake!
We remember what matters most in our lives.
Help us shed old memories
which no longer serve us.
Help us instead
to always remember You.