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Ki Teze 5780 - Shechichah - August 29, 2020


When I was a child I was taught, “So that you don’t forget something, put an elastic band around your wrist. It will remind you of what you might forgessen.” I’m sure others might have been taught the same. And then, a few hours later, I would gaze down at my hand realizing that something was pinching my skin. There was the reminder…but, sadly, all it reminded me of was that ich forgessen, I still forgot.

Since we moved here to the New London area, I found myself having one of those forgessen experiences. There was something that was in our kitchen back in Massachusetts that I could not locate. I put it somewhere that I knew that when we came to our new home, it would be in that place. But alas, for several months now… I still forgot where it was.  Just a few days ago, I thought about that item. It wasn’t in any of the kitchen boxes. It wasn’t anywhere. Did I leave it back in a cabinet in the kitchen in our former residence? Anything was possible! And then, just out of nowhere, I felt that magical pinch of that imaginary elastic band in my head. The million-dollar answer was: “Passover.” And then it hit me.  Go into the basement. Look in the Passover set of plastic drawers where we keep certain items all year round. It is somewhere in there. Sure enough, within one minute’s time, I retrieved what ich forgessen.

Our Torah reading for this Shabbat has one specific law regarding what we have forgessen.  It is called in Hebrew shechichah.  The Torah states: When you reap your harvest in the field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 24:19) The law is quite specific. If while you harvest your field, you left a sheaf, despite all of those desires to retrieve it, one is required to leave it for the less fortunate to find and use it. What a wonderful law! It gives those who go back into the fields after they are gleaned, a wonderful feeling about finding something, as though they are the farmer and they have accomplished something meaningful. It required that they had to do their own hard work in walking through the fields and gathering for themselves. The law provides a sense of worth and accomplishment. Moreover, I am certain there was more than one individual performing the same task, creating community amongst the less fortunate. In this instance, forgetting is a good thing. 

One of my teachers at JTS taught that there are forgotten sheaves that, when we remember them, we must go back and claim them as our own. That sometimes, it is good to remember. It is the things that we have forgessen to do … visit someone in the hospital, send a birthday card, a condolence card, a thank you note, a phone call...whether by accident or because it is something we do not want to do, so we purposefully “forget to do it.”  As I came upon the words of the Torah reading this week, it not only reminded me of where to find that missing item in our home, but also some of the notes and calls that shachachti (Hebrew), I had forgotten to do. 

I spent the past few days making a list in my mind…and to my pleasant surprise they are all now completed. Not that there won’t be whole new list, but it is good that, for now, my mind can be at ease with a checkmark next to my shechichah list. 

With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur just around the corner, perhaps we all should take a moment and reflect upon the two shechichot, the two types of things we might have forgessen. I’m certain that each of us, in our own way, has provided for the sheaves of the field. 

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, let us be mindful of creating - and completing -  the list of items, our own personal sheaves that need our attention, with the hope of entering the New Year with many checkmarks of completion.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi K

Sun, May 28 2023 8 Sivan 5783