D’var Torah: Choosing to Remember and to Forget
When talking to the Tzad Bet chanichim, I noted that it is peculiar that we are commanded to both remember and forget what they did. How is that possible? I think the parsha is teaching us how to choose what we remember and what we forget from this story.
We should remember that there are bad people in the world who prey on others, especially the weak and vulnerable. We should remember that it is our duty to stand up for these people and to help them. Why people behave the way they do is complicated, but a good starting point is that it is appropriate to have a healthy fear of God. People who fear God aren’t necessarily afraid of direct divine intervention in their daily lives but they do understand their place in the world. People who fear God understand that there is something larger than themselves and they have responsibility for one another. Those who don’t fear God care only about their immediate needs and are willing to do anything, including mistreat others, to get what they want.
What should we forget? As much as we need to remember how to combat evil in this world and to stand up for others, we cannot let the actions of bad people embitter us. Sometimes the problems in the world can cause us despair and perhaps to give up. We need to let go of the individual hurts, slights and pain others cause so that we can continue to function and do good in the world. Being able to forget, or let go, is a key skill to be resilient and move on.