The word Kadosh is the key to understanding Judaism. Three other words that come out of its root shape Jewish life and its celebration at its core.
It begins with Kadosh itself: “special, unique, set apart, memorable, precious, significant, wonderful, excellent, extraordinary, treasurable, transcendent, and, yes, holy”. Our mandate is to make as many moments Kadosh as we can in the course of daily life, with a full day devoted to it on Shabbat.
Kiddush, the blessing over wine and grape juice, celebrates and elevates a particular moment, i.e. Shabbat, Festivals and special lifecycle celebrations…weddings, welcoming new life, etc. It initiates a joyous period. It has its extension into the secular milieu in the form of “toasting”. It is the daily ongoing expression of Judaism’s understanding of the meaning of life: make this moment Kadosh as often as possible, any day, every day and throughout life. The Kiddush is the symbol and reminder of that mandate: turn ordinary moments and periods of time into extraordinary ones as often as possible and appreciate so much that is good in life, in people and in situations.
Kaddish, unlike Kiddush, can only happen in community. It is the linkage of a situation or a person to awareness of God, specifically the vision of hastening the arrival of the day when God will rule, reflected in the way people treat each other kindly, respectfully, considerately, fairly…all the time and in every way, throughout the world. Kaddish associated with mourners is the same (with one verse missing) as the full Kaddish done in transitions, the end of a section of prayer, or the conclusion of study. It keeps us focused on two matters: that ours is the task and goal to bring Divine governance into being as in the way people treat each other and sanctify time, and that the means by which to move toward fulfilling that vision is to maintain and strengthen community, that no one can do it alone.
A third extension of Kadosh is Kedusha. It is at the heart of the Amidah, the standing prayer of connection with God in daily, Shabbat and Holiday prayer, sorting out our relationship and our needs to function at peak levels in partnering with God through each other. The Kedusha accentuates through prophetic vision our awe and love of God in acknowledging that the world of Kadosh elevates consciousness of life’s blessings and the miracles abounding in each moment that we live. The Kedusha makes us one with the Creator in alignment of purpose devoting full love and awe for the Power of Life. Again, facilitating this overwhelming experience requires at least ten adult Jews. It is too big a matter to be “successfully” undertaken on one’s own.
Alone, with a spouse, with dear friends, the mandate is to find moments to raise glasses and utter thanks for that moment and all that it represents. It is the starting point of energizing us to be motivated to tackle the “big picture”, helping build a world where everyone can celebrate their moments and be inclined to do so and respect others’ doing so.
Only in community can we create the means and vision to allow God to rule in the way that we humans will do so with integrity, wherever we dwell, regardless of differences in perspective.
Only in community can we experience intimately and deeply the liturgy’s iteration of the precious connectivity with the Source of Life that teaches us how so to live.
Blessed are we who know to raise cups of joy often and always in appreciation for the moment at hand. And blessed are we who learn and know that we have each other in this gift of life to refocus our energies on strengthening our community to be a good and affective partner with other communities that share the dream of bringing a better world into being.
Enjoy the “Shabbat” of summer as we reenergize and look forward to continuing our growth as a caring and interconnected community.