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Forgetting the unforgettable

The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY

Author of The Kabbalah of Life

Human beings can be very forgetful at times. We have the ability to forget birthdays, anniversaries and other theoretically non-forgettable dates. Someone once told me that as a man you could only forget your spouse’s birthday once, because she will make sure that you never make that mistake again. When we lose a loved one is another example of when brain fog can set in. We say to ourselves during that most difficult time that I will never forget you. While this is technically true, there can be times where we do not think of the person and a whole week can go by where we temporarily forgot to remember the person. Parenthetically, losing a child, God forbid, is not the normal loss we are speaking of here.

WIRED TO FORGET

There are certain things that become a little fuzzy over time and we don’t quite remember most of the details. This is so because we are wired to forget. In fact, if we remembered vividly every single negative thing that happened to us, we would adopt the fetal position, and never be able to get out of bed. I always tell newlyweds that it is normal to argue, bicker and even fight with one another in the course of their marriage. So how can they tell if it was a particularly bad argument, one that requires a therapist or other intervention? I advise the young couple that if after a couple of days you remember every bit of the argument clearly and exactly what you were fighting about and who said what, then that was a bad one.

THE FORGOTTEN WAR

There is of course something called The Forgotten War. The Korean War was fought from 1950 until 1953 and pitted the United States, South Korea, and their UN allies against North Korea and the Chinese Communists. The Korean War is often called the “Forgotten War” because it was largely overshadowed by WWII and Vietnam. History has shown that many Americans began forgetting about the Korean War even before the armistice agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.

FORGOT?

I honestly do not know what it means to “forget” a war. I mean how can the war against Korea, where close to 40,000 soldiers were killed mostly in direct battle with the enemies, be forgotten. I think that perhaps they did not so much “forget” the Korean War, but rather, never thought much about it to begin with.

NEVER FORGET

I remember reading the shocking findings of a survey that was taken in September of 2020. I was so troubled by it that I saved the survey and look at it from time to time. The survey found that 10% of the 11,000 participants questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred, while 3% actually denied that it ever took place. This was a 50 State survey. What I find most disturbing is that over 19% of those surveyed in New York State claimed that Jews caused the Holocaust! Can you imagine the ignorance? Who would have thought that over 60% of those surveyed had no idea that the number of Jews killed was six million, What apathy. There are plenty of other statistics that are equally as troubling. You have to ask yourself what does “never again” mean.

RUSSIA – UKRAINE

Have you noticed that the reports on the Russian offensive against Ukraine are basically no longer talked about? The media for the most part is silent, and very very few of my concentric circle even bring it up anymore. I wonder how many journalists are actually still there on the front lines. I think that R. Kelly gets more press than this war. This is extremely painful to me because civilians are being indiscriminately killed and we remain silent. I am sure it was like this during the Holocaust as well. I am quite positive that not one golf game was cancelled when word started to get out about the atrocities being inflicted on human beings. I wonder how many people lost sleep at night.

To avoid hypocrisy on my part, I wish to share the following. According to Ukraine’s official count (not saying it is accurate), the gory numbers are as follows: 10,000 killed, 30,000 wounded, 7,200 missing (5,600 captured). Even according to the UN High Commission (more like useless commission), over 4,400 civilians have died and another 5,500 wounded. These are innocent men, women and children whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t know about you, I lose sleep every night over this and other painful issues which are beyond the pale.

In my opinion, apathy is not something we should be proud of but rather ashamed of. If we are apathetic and there is loss of life as well, then you have to wonder if we have learned anything since we were cave dwellers. Do not let another hour go by without contemplating the plight of these poor people. Say a prayer as it cannot hurt and it shows you are a sensitive person.

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About the Author
Rabbi Yakov Saacks is the founder and director of The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY. The Chai Center has been nicknamed by some as New York's most Unorthodox Orthodox Center.

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