Passover, of all the Jewish holidays, is characterized by a sense of yearning. It marks the end of a prolonged period of yearning for freedom and the beginning of a period of yearning for revelation, for witnessing the divine at Sinai. Referred to in Exodus as "Leyl Shimurim"-the night of being on the lookout, being watchful and attentive, the aspect of looking forward to is prominent in our minds. It is no accident that the Song of Songs is read at this time.This love poem captures the very essence of a lover longing for her beloved. "Oh for a kiss from your lips, for your love is better than wine." Passover is a lover's dream aching for the beloved's arrival. Passover picks up the pulse of nature's long-awaited awakening, a sleeping winter once again aroused from its frozen slumber.
Yet, is yearning compatible with gratefulness? Are we not grateful for what we have, what we embrace, what we clutch at in our outstretched hands? Until we hold, we hold back from giving thanks!
The gaze of gratefulness grasps a different reality. While yearning may ache, it is a unique human gift as it holds out hope, and only humans can hope.To be alive is to desire, and life is holy. To yearn for is a godly gift, a reason for gratefulness. Unlike Buddhism, whose ideas I believe deeply enrich our understanding of Judaism ( No, I am not a closet Ju-Bu), where suffering is the result of desire, Judaism acknowledges yearning and desire for the truth, for the good, for God Awareness, as an essential component of our spiritual lives. As long as Jews await the coming of the Messiah, as long as we yearn for Elijah's arrival at our Seder table, the dream and hope for a better world will continue to throb in our souls .
Rebbe Nachman said :"We must express our yearnings. The wine of Kiddush will dissolve our inhibitions from expressing them...yearning elevates the soul.This is our "Neshama Yeteirah"-the extra , the higher soul of the Sabbath and Festivals. "
With God's help, I will continue my grateful musings on Passover with a look at KIDDUSH as the first step of the Seder's path to sanctity.