Forgetfulness is the universal age-old excuse for anything and everything in life. Since memory is limited, forgetfulness has its advantages.
We can forget the bad, irrelevant and the petty things and remember the good, relevant and important things. It allows us to forget bad habits and to learn new ones. To forget past grievances and mend relationships. It motivates fresh beginnings and repeated good behavior.
Most importantly, forgetting is the beginning of forgiveness.
In this week’s parsha we learn of the first pardon the Jewish people received from G-d for the grave sin of the Golden Calf. Only forty days after experiencing the most intense divine revelation to man, they forgot their obligations and served an idol. G-d’s wrath was aroused and only due to Moses’ sacrifice and heroic prayer were they spared certain annihilation.
G-d revealed to Moses how to pray for forgiveness and promised that these prayers will cause Him to “forget” the iniquities of His people and forgive them.
This seems counterintuitive. If the human is guilty of sin, why should G-d forget? How is transgression of the Divine Will forgivable?
If you think about it, sin is the most counterintuitive idea imaginable. G-d is constantly recreating you from nothingness, providing you with life, health, sustenance, housing and happiness – and you violated His laws?! Is it possible to so shamefully disregard the king’s wishes in his presence?
Parents are rightfully aggravated and hurt when their children blatantly disregard or disrespect them. After everything they do for them, it is inconceivable they should reciprocate so negatively.
It is possible to sin when we forget that we are in G-d’s presence. Routine takes its toll and we start to take our many blessings for granted. As long as we forget G-d – He remembers the sin. Once we remember G-d and express remorse for our improper behavior – He gladly forgets the sin and graciously pardons.
Children do not mean to hurt their parents. Showered constantly with love, affection and care (which is a great thing) allows them to take this for granted. After a gentle reminder, we are happy to forget their negative behavior as well.
The key to our relationship with G-d is the knowledge that as humans, we are chronically forgetful of the source of our success and happiness. Once we remember the truth, G-d is grateful to forget the past and look forward to a positive and productive future.
May we merit the realization of the ultimate redemption, when forgetfulness will cease, ushering in a world of peace and tranquility, through our righteous Moshiach!