The Torah commands us to always remember six specific experiences.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
Among the Torah’s precepts is the command to perpetually remember six specific experiences. These things are known as the “Six Remembrances” and can be found in most siddurim (Jewish prayer books) at the end of the shacharit (morning) service.
The six remembrances are:
1. To remember the Exodus from Egypt
2. To remember the sin of the Golden Calf
3. To remember the giving of the Torah
4. To remember the Shabbat
5. To remember the attack of Amalek
6. To remember the sin of Miriam
Many individuals have the commendable custom of reciting the Six Remembrances every day following shacharit. According to some authorities doing so is a Torah requirement. It is taught that reciting the Six Remembrances is even greater than reciting the entire Book of Psalms (Tehillim). Some authorities encourage one to bear in mind the Six Remembrances prior to reciting the Shema each morning.
One need not stretch one’s imagination to notice the similarities between the Six Remembrances and the Six Constant Mitzvot. For example, the requirement to believe in God is very much connected with the Exodus from Egypt. As the opening passage of the Ten Commandments states: “I am the Lord your G-d, who has taken you from the land of Egypt.” The second mitzva, not to believe in anything else besides Him, corresponds to the sin of the Golden Calf, which was an attempt to replace God. Similarly, believing in His Oneness corresponds to the giving of the Torah, at which time we are told that the Jewish people called out: “God is One.”
The love that one must have for God is intrinsically connected to Shabbat, as can be seen from the Shabbat liturgy itself: “And You, Lord our God, in Your love, gave us the Shabbat.” The obligation to fear God is meant to recall the attack of Amalek whom we are told “did not fear G-d.” Finally, not straying after the desires of our hearts corresponds to Miriam who spoke badly about her brother Moshe. It is only the negative influences of our thoughts that cause us to speak poorly. Just like the desires of our heart can get us into trouble, so can our speech.
Although essentially unrelated to all that has been discussed above, it is interesting to note that the prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu) summarized the Torah’s most fundamental principles into the following six-point list.
1. To walk justly with good deeds
2. To always ensure proper speech
3. To reject bribery or other inappropriateness for the sake of money
4. To avoid corruption
5. To be sensitive with what one chooses to listen to
6. To not gaze at forbidden sights
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