Six times in the Hebrew Bible or “Torah,” the term “remember” is used as a commandment for Jews. They are:
1. Remember the Exodus from Egypt
2. Remember receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai
3. Remember what Amalek did to you
4. Remember how you angered G-d (with the golden calf)
5. Remember what G-d did to Miriam (when she slandered Moses)
and last but not least
6. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy
It's common to see these listed at the end of the morning prayer service, which also happens to be the time one removes their “tefillin” or in English, “phylacteries,” which are worn on weekday mornings and are removed in a specified order. By the way, I don't know why the term “phylacteries” even exists. Is there anybody who knows what phylacteries are, but not tefillin?
Anyway, I've devised a system to remember each of the 6 items and have them correspond to a part of the tefillin as they're being removed (the one from the head and the one from the arm).
The straps wrapped around the fingers of the hand are unwound first, which correlates nicely with freedom from Egypt (the fingers, in essence, also become free).
Second, the tefillin for the head are removed, which brings to mind “Torah from Sinai” — Torah study being a cerebral pursuit. It also takes a while to wrap the straps neatly and it gives one time to ponder the significance of the Torah.
Third, Amalek is the ancient enemy of the Jewish people who attacked the weak and feeble from behind when they marched across the desert. Jews are commanded to obliterate the memory of such a group. So at this point, the straps from the arm are allowed to fall limply away, with the hope that Amalek and his descendants will be just as powerless as these straps.
Fourth, a dark point in Jewish history is shortly after the Exodus when the Hebrews built a golden calf to worship as an idol (when many lost faith that Moses would return from the mountain). This memory refers to an action. So at this point the tefillin for the arm are wrapped up (an arm signifying action). Jews should remember not to worship idols — contemporary idols being money, celebrities, material objects, etc. It's a long strap so this memory corresponds to one half of the strap.
During the time it takes to wrap the second half of the arm strap, the memory of number 5 above can be pondered (Miriam's slander of Moses — another “action” appropriate for the arm tefillin — which caused her to be stricken with a skin ailment). Jews should remember not to slander or speak gossip.
And finally, the prayer shawl or “tallit” is removed and folded. During this time, the idea of Sabbath (or in Hebrew, Shabbat) can be recalled because just as one is wrapped completely in the tallit, Shabbat is one of the few commandments that also surrounds the Jew completely (being that the Sabbath is concerned with time, not place).
My way of remembering these six remembrances is by no way Jewish law or common practice. But perhaps it can be helpful and give you something to think about while “wrapping things up” after the morning service.
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