Mnemonics have been used by many students to help learn a complex list of items.
For example, the first letters of “My Dear Aunt Sue” is can help a child learn the four basic arithmetic operations (Multiply Divide Add Subtract). Or the lines of a music staff “Every Good Boy Does Fine” represents EGBDF. Other mnemonics involve learning a series of silly pictures to help memorize a list via word association.
The Talmud, in Shabbos 104a says “Make yourself simanim [signs – as study and memory aids] in the Torah and thereby acquire it.”
The Torah was divided into 54 “Torah Portions” are Parashot. Each week, Jews study the Parashah of the week, and on that Saturday, the Torah Portion is read in the Synagogue. It can be very useful to know the Parashot by memory.
Please read the silly story first – you may think it’s crazy… but at the end – all will be explained.
If you buy VIAGRA from one of those spam emails, you will SAVE money,
and spend that money to SAVE your CHIMNEY which is falling down.
The CHIMNEY started to fall down when the TASMANIAN devil blew through like a tornado.
After devouring your chimney, he blew through a METS game in New York,
and the METS were SORRY they lost because of the TASMANIAN devil.
They lost so bad, that they built a MOAT around the METS ballpark;
not just any moat, A HAIRY MOAT. They pulled their HAIR out and threw it in the MOAT
because the METS were so SORRY they lost.
The KIDS at the game felt sorry for them, and thought if the KIDS gave them
new SHIN pads, they would be more likely to win next time.
Thank goodness for the KIDDOS SHIN pads.
Then, suddenly A MOORE from Morroco, heard about the
their news KIDOS’ SHIN pads. He was a big time gambler,
and he wagered all the BEE HAIR in North Africa that they would win the next game.
In case you didn’t know, the MOORE developed a special genetic breeding so that
honey BEE’s would have more HAIR, and it became a very valuable commodity.
You can picture little honey bees with big wigs on their heads – can’t you?
Sure enough, they won the game, and the MOORE was now a wealthy man.
Not only did he get to keep his BEE HAIR, he took the money he made
and bought a nice HUKA TIE, you know, the nice neck ties with the pictures
of HUKA’s (yes, the water pipe) imprinted on them.
Now – here are how the capital words above associate to the Parashot (the standard Torah readings) in the book of Leviticus (Vayikra):
- Vayikra – Viagra
- Tzav – Save
- Shmini – Chimney
- Tazria – Tazmanian devil
- Metzora – Mets Game (Sorrow when they lose)
- Acharei Mot – A Hairy Moat
- Kedoshim – Kids/Shins
- Emor – A Moore
- Behar – Bee Hair
- Bechukotai – Huka/Tie
Now, if you read the story and practice with another person, you should be able to list all the Parashot in order in maybe 5 or 10 minutes, and be able to recall it for a few days. It’s a good idea to review every week for the first four weeks, then every month for maybe the next six months. Then, potentially you will have it memorized for life.
You can also drill with another person. Ask your friend, what Parashah comes after Tazria (you think back to the Tazmanian devil, which is mentally liked to Chimney and “The Sorry METS”). If you remember the story, you should be able to quote the parashah both before and after Tazaria as Shemini and Metzorah.
I hoped to find a more child friendly word than Viagra – but haven’t come up with anything yet. Obviously, the person learning the story has to know what the silly words mean, and you might not be ready to explain Viagra to your six-year old. Maybe you can use the word “VIGOR” or “VINEGAR” but they don’t work quite as well phonetically.
If you find any “better” words than the ones I chose, please post comments below.