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The Seven Chambers of Prayer in the World of Creation – Part 2 – Celebrating Memories

Last week we learned that in our morning prayers, we are in the Chamber of Love from the blessing preceding the Shema Yisrael prayer, Ahavat olam, through to Emet v’yatziv. The last passage of the Shema Yisrael prayer is about the ritual fringes called tzitzit. The tzitzit passage is clearly a passage on memory: “And you shall remember all the commandments of God… So that you will remember and you will perform all the mitzvot.” In addition to the explicit memory of the exodus from Egypt, Jewish Law adjudicators wrote that when reciting this passage, one must be mindful of all six remembrances at the end of the Ahavat olam blessing and in the Shema Yisrael prayer as follows:

Passage

Remembrance

Uvanu vacharta mikol am velashon/ובנו בחרת מכל עם ולשון  /”And you chose us from every other nation and language.” Giving of the Torah, in which God chose us and brought us close to worshipping Him.
L’shimcha Hagadol/לשמך הגדול/”To Your great Name” The Amalek episode, for God’s Name is not complete until the offspring of Amalek will be erased.
L’hodot lecha/להודות לך/ “To thank You” The Miriam episode, when she spoke about Moses. For the mouth was created to speak words of thanks and not forbidden speech.
Leyachedcha b’ahavah/ליחדך באהבה/To proclaim Your oneness with love: The Alter Rebbe’s version – Leyachedcha ule’ahavah et shemecha/ליחדך ולאהבה את שמך/To proclaim Your oneness and to love Your Name The Golden Calf episode, during which we were not in a loving relationship with God.
The verses on tzitzit The exodus from Egypt
Uzchartem et kol mitzvot Havayah/וזכרתם את כל מצוות ה’/And you shall remember all the commandments of God

 

Shabbat, equal to all the mitzvot

 

According to the Arizal, who is the first source for the explanations here – the Ahavat olam blessing and the Shema Yisrael prayer are in the Chamber of Love (one of the seven chambers through which we ascend in this part of the prayer service). The fact that these remembrances were included in the Chamber of Love teaches us that memory is not a dry intellectual action. Instead, it is an action of love and emotional connection to the good things that we remember. (Thus, the remembrance of the sins here – the Golden Calf and the Miriam episode – are alluded to in a positive context, “to thank You,” “to proclaim Your oneness.” The remembrance of Amalek appears with the completeness of “Your great Name,” which will be revealed after Amalek is erased).

This is highlighted even more clearly when we look at the source in the Arizal, who specifies just four remembrances and adds a festive dimension to them: The first three remembrances correspond to the three pilgrimage festivals: The remembrance of the exodus from Egypt corresponds to Pesach and the remembrance of the giving of the Torah corresponds to Shavuot, as would be expected. The memory of Amalek corresponds to Sukkot, for the Amalekites attacked the Israelites who were ejected from the Clouds of Glory in the desert. (The tabernacles that we build on the holiday of Sukkot are in memory of those Clouds of Glory). The fourth remembrance, of the Miriam episode, corresponds to Rosh Hashanah, during which we blow the shofar and sweeten the harsh judgements alluded to in the name Miriam (which means “bitter”). The Arizal notes that he does not count Yom Kippur in these remembrances, because it is the Shabbat of all Shabbats, and Shabbat is not a festival. But as the Jewish Law adjudicators counted six remembrances, we can correspond the Golden Calf to Yom Kippur, when that sin was forgiven, and the remembrance of Shabbat is left for Shabbat, of course.

The beautiful parallel transforms the daily remembrance into a true celebration. When we remember the exodus from Egypt we experience liberty and feel that we are sitting at the Seder table. When we remember the giving of the Torah we should hear the thunder and lightning and rejoice in the giving of the Torah (and taste the cheese cake in our mouths).  When we remember Amalek we should sense the joy of Sukkot and smell the fresh leaves of the schach on the roof of the Sukkah. When we remember the Miriam episode we should hear the shofar. And in light of our addition: When we remember the Golden Calf we should feel the spiritual ascent that we experience on Yom Kippur and when we remember Shabbat, we merit a ‘moment of Shabbat’ every day, which frees us and elevates us from the our mundane affairs.

 

Passage

Remembrance

Uvanu vacharta mikol am velashon/ובנו בחרת מכל עם ולשון  /”And you chose us from every other nation and language.” Giving of the Torah, in which God chose us and brought us close to worshipping Him.

Shavuot

L’shimcha Hagadol/לשמך הגדול/”To Your great Name” The Amalek episode, for God’s Name is not complete until the offspring of Amalek will be erased.

Sukkot

L’hodot lecha/להודות לך/ “To thank You” The Miriam episode, when she spoke about Moses. For the mouth was created to speak words of thanks and not forbidden speech.

Rosh Hashanah

Leyachedcha b’ahavah/ליחדך באהבה/To proclaim Your oneness with love: The Alter Rebbe’s version – Leyachedcha ule’ahavah et shemecha/ליחדך ולאהבה את שמך/To proclaim Your oneness and to love Your Name The Golden Calf episode, during which we were not in a loving relationship with God.

Yom Kippur, when we were forgiven for this sin.

The verses on tzitzit The exodus from Egypt

Pesach

Uzchartem et kol mitzvot Havayah/וזכרתם את כל מצוות ה’/And you shall remember all the commandments of God

 

Shabbat, equal to all the mitzvot

 

Click here for Part 1 of this article

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