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ב"ה

Triggers

Friday, 21 January, 2022 - 5:31 am

When a loved one is gone for a bit, we remember – and miss – the great qualities they possess and the benefits they bring to our relationship.

When the going gets rough, we remember who our enemies are.

This week, I experienced both of these.

After last Shabbat ended, I turned on my phone to see that there was a voicemail from the Boise Police Department. It was reassuring to hear that our local law enforcement was reaching out to provide physical and moral support to us at a time when a terrible crisis was underway in Texas.

Apparently, the community welcomed this person in, assuming he was in need of support and community. It wasn’t until they heard the sound of a trigger that they realized they were in serious trouble.

Thank G-d all hostages were able to safely escape from the life-threatening, antisemitic terrorist attack.

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Conversely, this week, Shluchos (Chabad Lubavitch women emissaries) from around the world are gathering (either in-person or virtually) for the annual Shluchos Conference. After a hiatus, my wife Esther is able to join some of her colleagues in-person this year.  Without Esther at home, it becomes quite obvious how much we all depend on her, and miss her.

Both of these events got me thinking about the power of remembering. We usually remember things by having a trigger.  Passing by a specific building might remind us of a chore we need to do. Tasting a certain food might awaken a forgotten relationship.

But, what if we don’t have a trigger? Are we destined to always forget?

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In this week’s parsha Yitro, the Jewish people are given the Torah.

One of the fundamental commandments is the weekly observance of Shabbat. In the Torah’s words, “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.”

The Torah demands that we remember the seventh day of the week. How are we to remember it?

The Torah here is referring to the acts that we engage in to remember the Sabbath. We make kiddush over a glass of wine. We pronounce the sanctity of Shabbat in prayer. We eat special meals to celebrate it exalted status. We dress our best in honor of this sacred day.

It seems that G-d is telling us that if we want to remember something we need triggers. And, if we care enough about something, we need to create triggers. We need to bathe in honor of Shabbat. We need to cook up a storm and enjoy the Sabbath. We need to add unique liturgy in deference to this special day.

As an example, Americans cannot forget about Thanksgiving if they are busy buying turkey and inviting guests.

And, a Jew cannot forget about Shabbat if we are busy cooking, inviting guests and ensuring our best clothes are laundered.

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As Jews we are asked to create triggers to remember who we are; to remember that our Creator wishes to engage in a special and loving relationship with us.

Let’s not wait for ugly and dangerous triggers from the outside. Let’s create our own triggers to remember who we are.

And, let us pray, that – armed with our positive triggers – we never face another negative trigger again.

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