Passover Words of Torah 5779-2019

Rav Yonaton & Avital Hirschhorn, Maryland Hillel OU-JLIC Jewish Educators

We begin the Seder night with “Kadesh”, making the blessing over wine. One obvious question regarding “Kadesh” is why it is called by a special name (Kadesh) when it seems to be no different than the blessing over the wine we do on holidays, and every Shabbat, which we title “Kiddush.”

To answer such a question, we must look to the purpose of Kiddush. Kiddush, on Shabbat and holidays, is sanctifying the moment, a specific limited space within time. “Kadesh” is unique in that it isn’t only sanctifying the day over wine, but it is a commandment, a mitzvah, to sanctify everything (the entire Seder night). Similar to the commandment “You Shall be holy”, “Kadesh” is meant to elevate all, to sanctify the mundane within our life, within the world. Our job is to take the mundane/unholy and elevate it to a level of holiness by connecting to it, and through it, to G-d. This action of “Kadesh” is not limited to space and time, it is a mindset, a way of life – everything I encounter, including myself, I choose to elevate! These first few moments of Seder night have the potential to truly start our personal journeys towards true freedom.

One is only truly free when one is able to encounter and connect to this world and leave one’s imprint, and ultimately elevate the encounter. One can see how the small moments in this world connect to each other, how one’s own life is a part of something much greater, how something seemingly meaningless has the potential to connect to holiness. On the other hand, one who is not free, a slave, is one who allows the world itself to imprint, mold, and shape the individual. One who lives their life in a narrow mindset, in their own perception, which causes them to not see anything beyond themselves. The slave mentality does not allow one to perceive holiness within the mundane; it restrains the individual from the desire to elevate the physical within this world. But a free person is free to be kadosh, to perform “Kadesh”, to sanctify and elevate what they are doing, while being a part of the mundane. By elevating our perception and broadening our consciousness, we can find true freedom within ourselves, the ability and desire to elevate all those we encounter, ourselves, and G-d!

Chag Kasher V’Sameach!