Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. So go the words of Exodus 20:8, and in the rabbinic understanding of how to fulfill them, there is an important message that will help us make this Memorial Day a little more meaningful. And having recently crossed the threshold of 1,000 dead service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, that is an especially urgent need.
According to the sages, the biblical obligation to remember the Sabbath day in a way that makes it holy, requires action. In the case of Shabbat, the Sabbath, that is classically understood as using words of prayer and blessing – specifically the Kiddush, or ritual over a cup of wine/grape juice on both Friday night and during the day on Saturday.
I do not know if lifting a glass in memory of our nation’s military dead is the way to go – though I would certainly not be the first to suggest such a practice. I do know that the basic insight here is worth integrating i.e. memory doesn’t just happen, it needs to be created. Creating that memory is the order of the day and I wish us all success in fulfilling that sacred obligation.