Thursday, March 28, 2013

One Last Voice Is Calling You And I Guess It's Time You Go (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia "Sugaree")

We are still in the midst of the Pesach Festival. The Sederim are behind us. The first two days of the Festival are behind us. For a few days all of our children, including our eldest, who came in from New York, were home with us. Sure it was terrific seeing our children helping with all the preparations for the Holiday,  sitting at the Seder, asking questions, singing, laughing, and eating way too much. However, my most favorite moment occurred when I arrived home from Shul. I walked in the house and they were waiting for me in order to begin lunch.  No one was angry or frustrated with me because I had kept them waiting. Instead, my wife and our four children were sitting on the floor playing together, laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and getting along so sweetly. As I took my eldest daughter to the airport so she could return to New York, I explained to her how important it was for her to come home every so often for my own selfish needs. It was a great moment. Perhaps it is because of the Pesach Festival, but I actually find myself thanking God for allowing me to have had such a moment. Hopefully, I should have similar moments in the future.   
When we make the Shabbat Kiddush, we invoke a certain imagery of God. Zikaron L’Maasei Breishit, Ki Hu Yom Techila L’Mikra’ei Kodesh, Zeicher L’Tziyat Mitzrayim- We invoke the image of God as the creator. In the Kiddush we remind ourselves to “Remember the event of Creation”. That is God created for six days and rested on the seventh day, hence Shabbat. We also remind ourselves of the Yetziat Mitzrayim- The Exodus from Egypt. Specifically we remind ourselves that “With an outstretched arm and a mighty hand”, God brought us out of Egypt, and God redeemed us from slavery. Both of these images of God are of a powerful God, a mighty God. Associated with these descriptions of God is that God was fulfilling his Brit, his covenant with Avraham Avinu that we will be chosen and a great and mighty nation. Also by God redeeming us from Slavery, we were to receive the Aseret Dibrot, the Ten Commandments in order to re-affirm God’s covenant to us and our covenant to God.
            On Shabbat Chol Ha’Moed Pesach, the Intermediate Sabbath of Pesach, we invoke a very different sort of image of God. This is rather ironic when, considering the imagery we use to describe God at our Seders. Again at the Seder we invoke the image of Avadim Hayinu B’Mitzrayim, V’Yotzieinu Adoshem Elokeinu Misham B’Yad Chazakah Uvizroah N’tuyahWe were slaves in Egypt and  The Lord our God brought us out from there, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Certainly Pesach and the Exodus from Egypt should invoke images of God’s strength etc. However we know that Shabbat invokes a different type of image. And just like a regular Shabbat invokes images of  “Lecha Dodi Likrat Kalah P’nai Shabbat N’KablahCome My Beloved with chorus of praise, Welcome Shabbat the Bride, Queen of our days, images of Bridal splendor and royalty, on Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach we need to invoke that imagery of God as well. Unlike a regular Shabbat, when on Friday Night we invoke that imagery during the Kabbalat Shabbat – Friday Evening Service, we don’t conduct Kabbalat Shabbat. We don’t mix the joy of the Shabbat with the joy of the holiday. So what do we do?
            We read from the scroll of Shir Ha’Shirim, the Song of Songs. We read the scroll that is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon when he was young. We read of lovers who yearn for each other. While on a literal basis our sages had great difficulty with this scroll as part of our biblical canon, symbolically they understood its importance. Shir HaShirim reminds us that our relationship to God is that of lovers, is that of husband and wife. Kol Dodi Hinei Zeh Bah M’Daleig Al  HeHarim M’Kapeitz Al Hagvaot The voice of my beloved! Behold it came suddenly [in the form of redeeming me], as if leaping over mountains, skipping over hills (Song of Songs 2:8). In a Midrash – Rabbi Yehudah taught that the voice of my beloved is the voice of Moshe. When Moshe came to B’nai Yisroel and told them that our redemption from slavery was imminent. We didn’t believe him; we reminded him that God told Avraham Avinu that we would be enslaved for four centuries, not two centuries. Moshe explained that God couldn’t stand being away from us, his beloved. So he leaped over mountains, that is he jumped over the remaining two centuries in order to be with us. (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:1).
            How flattering! God has missed us. God wants us at God’s side. God wants a relationship with us, and God wants this now. On Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach, we invoke a God who yearns for us as much as we yearn for God. This is a very powerful image as well but very different. We don’t normally view God as a loving partner. Yet what could be more appropriate than reminding these slaves, this generation that was a few days removed from Egypt, that there is more to the relationship, more to the covenant than our serving God. There is a tender relationship, a loving relationship based upon a mutual understanding of fulfilling responsibilities. Shabbat is the time when we stop the mundane existence and step away from the frenetic pace of life and remind and re-affirm our loving and tender relationships with our loved ones base upon our mutual understanding of fulfilling responsibilities. Besides the relationships with our husbands and wives, our parents and our children is our relationship to God.
Rav Yitz

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