What Makes a Verse Memorable?

The simple answer is that these are verses that I both particularly remember and whose significance I recognize. I did not have to read the entire Torah to look for these verses; they simply occurred to me or to others who considered the list.

How are these verses memorable?

  • Some of the verses are visually memorable – ones that we can picture in our minds because of the stories we learned when we were first introduced to the Torah – such as the flood, the crossing of the sea, and the golden calf. (click here for more)
  • Other verses are memorable because we recognize them from the siddur – the Jewish prayerbook – such as each of the verses of the first paragraph of the Sh’ma, the central Biblical reading in the Jewish prayer service.
  • Still others are memorable because they refer to core commandments of Judaism, such as the Ten Commandments.
  • Still others are memorable because they articulate basic principles of Judaism, such as “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” and “you shall love the stranger, for you were a stranger in the land of Egypt.”
  • Still others refer to our relationship with God and our eternal covenant with God.
  • Still others refer to the apparently historical narrative that establishes the foundational mythology of Judaism – creation, slavery, redemption, and revelation.
  • Still others are memorable because they are associated in some way with another of the memorable verses.
  • And there are a few verses that don’t quite fit into any of those categories.

Other people might create different lists of memorable verses, although I think that any such list of approximately the same size would have a substantial overlap with mine. However, my list would most likely include some verses that would not appear on a similar list created by someone else, and someone else’s list would most likely include some verses that are not on mine.