Have you ever felt like a piece of information has vanished from your memory? You had it once, and poof, it’s gone. What a terrible experience to know that the information is stored somewhere in your brain, but you just can’t retrieve it. In days gone by, if a gentleman wanted a reminder of something that needed not to be forgotten, he would tie a knot in his handkerchief. When he reached for the cloth, he had a built-in reminder. When we learn something new, a neurochemical memory trace is created. If that information is not constantly rehearsed, it may eventually be lost to us.
Orthodox Jews have a unique memory aid that is still in use today. Under their shirts, Jewish men and boys wear a poncho-like garment called a tallit, and on each corner of the tallit there is attached a fringe, a tzitzit. Although these cloths are currently used mostly during times of prayer, they have deep roots in the Word of God. Allow me to set the scene.
The children of God had just experienced a failure of faith “in the wilderness of Paran,” and Moses was revisiting the commandments of God with those weary, defeated travelers. It is then that Moses was confronted with, what may seem to us, a small problem. “While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day…and they…brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.” That may seem as a small infraction to us today, but God had specifically commanded His people to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Those sticks would cost this man his life. It is then that God gives to his people a memory tool. He tells Moses to speak unto the people and to “bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations…a ribband of blue.” This would help them to remember: “And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes.” Isn’t God good! He gave His people a fringe of fabric to help them to keep their focus on the commandments of God.
We are still instructed to keep His words close to us, to “write them upon the table of (our) heart.” We may not have tassels of cloth, but we have His written Word available to hide deeply within our hearts as a constant reminder of His love. Read it, hide it, remember it.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
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