Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Personal Torah: Kiddush

Ima on the Bima doesn't seem to have her call for personal torah up today and of course today is the day I want to share. So I'll just go ahead without her.

I've been thinking a lot lately about kiddish. At our daughters' naming ceremony, they each got a silver kiddish cup. My MIL brought over her father's cup, the one he brought when he escaped Germany. We poured the wine into that, said kiddush, then split the wine into the girls' cups and drank from there. Their great grandfather is long gone (he passed away before dh was born. Dh is named after him as is TheBoy), but we used the oportunity of kiddush to recognize their connection to him and sanctify that. They are bound to him through blood and tradition.

Kiddush literally means "Sanctification." One of the things I love about Judaism is that we sanctify the everyday and that we have the power to do so. We don't have to rely on rabbis or a specific location to do that for us. We can recognize the beauty in everyday and sanctify it ourselves. We're commanded to do just that.

My son turns 3 soon. I'm beginning to plan his party and upsherin. Traditionally, Jewish boys have their first haircut on their 3rd birthday (along with a whole host of other education-related things as it also marks the beginning of his formal education and I LOVE that it begins with the parents). I admit that we cheated. I tried not to cut his hair. Oh how I tried even when no one around me understood (we do not live in a very Jewish area and even among my fellow Yids, only the rabbi followed the practice). Finally, it got too hot and his hair was too long, so I agreed to have it cut. Although, I insisted we wait until he was 18 months old. 18 is a special number within Judaism. When we tried to conceive, we had no luck. The one month when I ovulated on day 18 was the cycle when I conceived TheBoy. Oddly enough, this time around, I also conceived on the 18th day of my cycle. In Hebrew, the word "Chai" means both "Eighteen" and "Life."

Still, we plan on having a fairly traditional haircutting ceremony for his 3rd birthday. Everyone gets to snip a piece of hair. It's not that horrible fear-inducing first haircut you always fear with little kids. It's a lot of fun. Then you typically introduce them to the aleph-bet in a variety of ways, but usually, you cover the aleph-bet in honey and let the child taste and see that learning is sweet. Torah is, "sweet on the tongue."

In other cultures, this would often be an uneventful occasion. In Judaism, though, we sanctify it. We find beauty, symbolism and richness in this seemingly minor event. I'm hoping that we can pay for plane tickets for my in-laws to fly out for the party. My FIL will have his surgery soon, so I don't know if he can make the trip, but I very much want them here. I want them to cut their grandson's hair and to share in this new stage. I want them to sanctify my son, my FIL and the day not only with their presence, but also with the same kiddush cup that was smuggled over from Germany. This man didn't know if he would live, yet his name, great grand children and religious tradition continue. THAT deserves to be sanctified.

3 comments:

Phyllis Sommer said...

beautiful. what a lovely way to look at our traditions....

(and yes, i'm trying really hard to be on hiatus while i get ready for the holidays. i just can't stay away from blogland, tho!) shana tova....

Giselle said...

Awesome! I hope they can come.

Pixie LaRouge said...

This is a gorgeous post! How lovely and blessed are the connections with the past, through names, through blood and through ceremony and celebration. And even more miraculous are those connections with the future we cannot see, but only guess at and feel with hope.