Do You Remember Me?

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One of the things that sometimes is embarrassing and/or sometimes frustrating, is when someone comes up to me and says: “Hi, do you remember me?”  Being 59 years old, having been in the rabbinate  for 34 years, and having taught many hundreds of people during this period, sometimes the answer is yes, but remind me your name and other times, the answer might very well be no. Which is why I wish people would say, hi, I am so and so, I do not know if you remember me but I took a class etc. and fill in the context. And, you really want to remember them and they want to be remembered and deserve to be remembered. Indeed, a new colleague to the area described one important part of his rabbinate is getting to know his congregants names. People are valued and honored when we remember who they are.

There is an amazing and yet terrifying text in the Reishit Chochmah by Eliyahu de Vidas who was a student of Rabbi Moshe Codevero

They asked Rabbi Eliezer: “What is the judgment of the grave?”

[He responded:] “When a person passes away, the Angel of Death arrives, hits his grave with his hand, and says ‘Tell me your name!’ He replies: ‘It is revealed and known to the One who Spoke and Created the World that I do not know my name.’”

Associated with this is a custom by some to r

ecite 18 verses a day that contain your name, with the hope you will remember it on your Judgment Day.  Rav Yehudah Amital understands this as the need to find our name in Torah, our unique place in Torah, our special connection that is unique to each individual, a piece of Torah that will be known by our name.  One can expand this and include do I behave in a way that manifests a concern of the Torah. Am I an exemplar of chachnasat orchim, welcoming guests.  Am I a hospitable personality that welcomes others in my presence. Am I a tzedakah, charitable personality, to whom people can turn. Am I identified with a particular mitzvah that then carries my name and with which I will be indentified.

Posted on September 13, 2012
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