Tag Archives: kiddush

The Kiddush Cup.

This might look like just a regular kiddush cup to most of you folks, but to me it symbolizes a whole lot more.

Four years ago, when I became a single mother, my friend Z! purchased this for me. The kiddush cup that had been used in our house up until then left with my ex. Which was fine. He was the one that used it twice a weekend since we had first been wed. He was attached to it and totally entitled to have it.

Z! bought this kiddush cup for me to use every Shabbat from then on, something that was mine, that had not been shared. If you look closely it’s more feminine than most of the bechers that you see. I have used this becher faithfully every Shabbat that I have been home, ever since.

That first Shabbat, making kiddush out of my new kiddush cup, was emotional. I had become the head of the household overnight, the one responsible for everything. I was now in charge of religious observance and rites in the house, and I was the only one old enough to be responsible to make kiddush. There were many times that my voice cracked while saying kiddush, that the tears rolled down my face, that I was overwhelmed with my single motherhood.

Within 2 years my oldest son became bar mitzvah and relished the opportunity to take over this religious rite. Initially I allowed him to use my kiddush cup and say the blessings every Shabbat that the kids were with me. I sat back and shepped nachas as he proudly voiced the holy words. And yes, there were many happy tears too!! But occasionally I needed to reconnect with that rite. I needed to remember the person I was that first Shabbat as a single mom, and how far I had come. How despite all the hardship that life rained down on me, that I remained true to the core Torah values, that I encouraged the same in my children.

Very soon this kiddush cup will be polished up, and put in a place of honour in my breakfront in the new home we will share with the KoD. He has his own becher that means a lot to him, and I am content to sit back and be blessed with his kiddush. Z!’s becher however will have pride of place and will always remind me of how far I have come.

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Heinous or Harmless – Discipline

I have written before about keeping promises and carrying out threats. I was tested on this on Friday night. For the longest time I have had a deal with my youngest son. That if he goes to shul (synagogue) with his brothers on Friday night and misbehaves, then he has to go to bed after kiddush and hamotzi (the ritual Friday night blessings). We started this in order to keep him focused on being quiet in shul, and not bothering his older brothers while they daven (pray). It’s the older boys that tell me about his behaviour and I require consensus from all three. For months he was well behaved enough to stay up for the meal. I know it’s hard for him and for his brothers. They are alone in shul, and have to keep themselves and their little brother in line. Hopefully soon it will be a thing of the past, and the KoD will keep a watchful eye on them.

Friday night they came home after shul and told me that the little one did not behave, did not maintain decorum fit for shul. I was saddened and disappointed. I called him to me, and asked him how he thought he behaved. After much hesitation he admitted he had been badly behaved. I held him in my arms, and told him that after we eat challah he has to go to bed, as that was our deal. He was so upset and it tore my heartstrings to shreds. It would have been so easy for me to tell him to behave better, and ok, you can join us for the meal. But I wanted him to learn the lesson and also to know that I carry out my threats when necessary.

We were both crying when I bensched him. He cried all through Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil. He was crying almost too hard to drink the grapejuice. He managed to chomp his way through a piece of challah, softened with his hot tears. Before he left the table he came to curl up on my lap. I asked him if he understood why he was being punished. He knew why and promised to behave better next time. I reminded him how much I love him, but that he needed to go to his room.

He took some books so he could read in bed. He came out of bed a couple of times for an extended drink of water and another hug or two. I missed him at the table. I did.

Shabbat morning he crawled into bed with me and told me he felt so sad that we were all having fun without him, and the he knows if he would have behaved appropriately that he would have joined us for dinner. He promised that he would be the best boy in shul from now on, because it felt “bad” to be punished. He totally understood his punishment, he was aware that there would be consequences for his bad behaviour, but it hadn’t deterred him. He told me that next time he wanted to act up in shul he would remember how sad he felt to hear us having a fun meal and not be part of it. So I guess he learned the lesson. But why do I feel awful about the whole thing?

Was disciplining him this way heinous or harmless?

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Be Quiet, for God’s Sake!

I don’t know about you but I like the whole davening in shul thing. I like the liturgy, a touch of chazanut, a shtickle Carlebach niggun, a good speech from the rabbi, and I am uplifted. Add in a decent kiddush after services, and I am good to go. I usually only get to shul Shabbat morning, so I really cherish my shul time.

Every shul is different with what level of background noise it will tolerate. I have heard of men being bodily ejected from shul because they were flapping their gums too much. Some shuls insist on silence only during Torah reading and the rabbi’s speech, other shuls there is a constant hum of conversation.

I can socialize after shul. Catch up on the latest gossip or shoe sales or sports stats or what-have-you. To me, that’s what a Kiddush is for. Why do people find it necessary to talk during shul? That is your time to pray to God.

“Sorry, God. Hold on a minute, God, Jay has to tell me what happened on the ninth hole erev Shabbat, I wouldn’t disrupt this one way conversation unless it was important”.

Seriously, have we become so jaded that talking in shul is normal? Look, I am not perfect, and have been known to talk in shul, but I really do try not to. There are some people, though, that spend the entire davening deep in conversation with their neighbour, barely pausing to daven the swiftest Amidah ever before they resume their discussion on the healthcare system, how they think Tiger Woods scored that hole in one, or that cute blonde that just walked in, or the rebbetzin who is looking a little heavy around the middle again, and her baby is only 11 months old!!

People! You are standing in a house of worship! You have come there to daven, to pray to God, to thank him for your abundant blessings and ask him to cure your aunt Millie and put more money in your bank account. Yet, in the middle of all that praising and supplication you press PAUSE so you can chit chat? Who do you think you are? No one tells God to wait. No one, not even Moses, can get away with that.

What if, in the middle of you talking to your neighbour, God decides He wants to talk to you? You won’t pick up on that because you have closed your spiritual pathways to talk to your friend. Hey, maybe God wants to tell you what lottery numbers to play this week but you are too busy talking about the Yankees that you won’t get the message. He wanted to answer your prayers but you let Him go to voice mail.

How hard is it to stop talking in shul, except to God? In a courtroom no one dares to speak. No one, or they are in contempt which means a fine. Or prison time. Or both. And the Judge is a human being, yet no one would dare make a cellphone call in the midst of a legal argument. The idea of talking in shul should be just as terrifying if not more.

We are standing there in front of God, and communally we are showing Him major disrespect. I would like to be able to daven in peace in shul, not be disturbed by inane chatter, whispering and giggling. Not have to hear the Gabbai pound on the Bima and say “we shall only continue when there is silence” – there should be silence as a matter of course.

We are coming up on Rosh Hashannah, and of course everyone will be silent in shul, as they will on Yom Kippur. We are being judged, of course we are going to be quiet. Come on, what a crock! God knows that we talked in shul last week and missed all the leining. God knows that we are going to talk next week in shul and the week after, and that we have no intention of shutting up in shul. Except the Day of Judgment. Because, you know, maybe we can pull the wool over His eyes. Give me a break. Stop talking now and stick to it, and concentrate on your prayers. Maybe, just maybe, you will reconnect with your inner spirituality. It won’t bring you the Maserati you have been dreaming of, but maybe you will sleep better at night.

I know that I am making a commitment to be quiet in shul from now on. I want to connect with God. I don’t want to just say words, I want to mean them and reflect on them. Don’t you be the one in shul to ruin my kavannah. God has a lot more up His proverbial sleeve that I have.

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Message from the Royal Scribe

Hear ye!!! Hear ye!!! Her Majesty the Queen of Hearts has asked me to inform you that my duties have been dispensed with for the next few days as the Queen is way too occupied to need my services. Her King of Diamonds is bringing his royal court up to spend Shabbat with the Queen’s court, so the Queen has much menu planning and kitchen supervising to be done. She must also oversee the housekeeping and make sure the royal laundry has been kept up to date. Her princes have been banished to their quarters to make sure their jousting equipment is safely stored. The Queen must also ensure that the accommodations for her King are satisfactory, in keeping with a man of his station in life.

 

The Queen must also take time to rest herself so that her appearance will continue to please the eye of her King, and that she may have energy to enjoy all the attentions of the King, princes and princesses. Court business is very draining, and entertaining is part of said business. Our Queen loves the entertainment and pageantry and is much looking forward to the pomp and circumstance that will surround the King’s visit.

 

The grocery shopping has been supervised, the dairy and meat pantries well stocked, and plenty of tasty treats have been planned for the young princes and princesses. Horses have been fed and watered so that a tour of the environs of our royal city can be taken. As I write, the peasants are stomping the grapes so that our Queen may have the royal vintage at her Shabbat table for her King to make kiddush on. One hears the pounding of fists as the challah dough is being kneaded by the local bakers. Vegetables are being plucked from the ground for the Queen’s favourite chicken soup made with her very own top secret recipe, matzah being ground so that Cook can make extra special fluffy matzah balls as an accompaniment for the soup. The ritual slaughterer is chasing chickens in the courtyard, and the fatted calf is being prepared in the meat kitchen.

 

I am sure there are many more delectable mouthwatering dishes that will be served, but I must return to my little village, to my simple life, until such a time as the Queen needs my services. (I hope there will be some leftovers for me……)

 

Your Humble Servant

The Royal Scribe

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