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Zalman's Kiddush

Thursday, 29 March, 2018 - 9:35 am

Blog.jpgI had just made Kiddush last Friday night, and we were sitting at the Shabbat table, getting ready to start the meal. When it was my six-year- old son Zalman’s turn, he called out, “hang on!” and went running to his bedroom to retrieve his Shabbat jacket.

He returned beaming. “Now I can say Kiddush!”

After he’d said the blessing and drunk the wine, I asked him why he’d gone running for the jacket. “We have to dress nicely for Kiddush, just like you,” he explained.

I was stunned. We have never discussed or required Shabbat attire. In fact, he has made Kiddush countless times in his pajamas, and that’s perfectly okay. But here he was, insisting on wearing the jacket.

Because, as any parent comes to know, our children internalize and mimic the things we do even more than the things we say. When my son sees me putting on my hat and jacket to make Kiddush each week, he understands that this is the way it should be done. No discussion necessary.

Jews around the world are about to sit down to the Seder. One of the main mitzvot of the evening is to convey to our children the story of our slavery and freedom from Egyptian domination, G-d’s role in our salvation, and the subsequent formation of our nation.

We spend tens of thousands of dollars educating our children, but the most important message we can give at the Seder (and year round) is not something we tell. It’s what we do. It’s the passion we demonstrate for G-d, prayer, and spirituality. If we tell our kids to do it, but they can sense that we don’t love, value, and enjoy it, it won’t work.

On the Seder night, tell your children the story of Pesach, but let the main message speak for itself. Smile, laugh, and sing together. Show them how much you love and appreciate G-d’s eternal kindness. Let them see you eating the matzah, wine, and afikoman with alacrity. Make “next year in Jerusalem” come alive for them, and they too will yearn for that time.

May we all celebrate together next year, there, in Jerusalem.

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