Imagine you woke up one fine day and forgot who you are. What would your life be like? What would your world be like?For some people forgetting who they are is the daily reality. Some people, when asked, “Who are you?” respond by pulling out their business card. They confuse what they do with who they are, and consequently they forget who they are.
Today is Yom Kippur. And Yom Kippur never lets us forget, for Yom Kippur is a day dedicated to memory.
Just look – the prayers are saturated with remembrances. From thezochreinu l’chaim prayer to the haunting description of the Ten Martyrs,aileh ezkara v’nafshi olai eshpcha, to the bulk of the Musaf service itself called the Seder Avoda, which recalls the order of the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple. And, of course, Yizkor, the remembrance of our loved ones who have passed away.
What is the power of memory and what secret lies in the memory of Yom Kippur?
Through a humorous Chelem anecdote, moving stories of how memory captured the deepest love and saved children after the Holocaust, the memorable words of R’ Ashi in a seemingly unrelated Talmud, Ana hu d’ramai anafshai v’adkari, “It was I who cast it upon my soul, and I remembered” – we come to realize that memory isn’t just remembering something; memory is bearing witness to our true identities. It is remembering who we really are.
And this testimony has the power to change the judgment of the world!