Friday, April 10, 2015

Liturgical thoughts on the Havdalah prayer of Shabbat in Pesach

               First of all, I apologize for thinking the wrong Torah thoughts last week.  In my haste in getting ready for the first Seder, my mind passed over the special Torah portions that are read when the holiday of Pesach falls on Shabbat.  Parshah Shemini, a perfectly good Torah portion, will actually be read next Shabbat.

                At the second Seder, though, I had the opportunity to say a prayer that is only said when the first day of Pesach falls on Shabbat.  When Shabbat is over, we say Havdalah, the prayer of separation, which distinguishes Shabbat from the other days of the week.  At the end of most Shabbats, the prayer concludes, “ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’chol”, “Who separates between the holy and the mundane”.  But when we are in the middle of a holiday, as we were at the end of last Shabbat, the prayer ends, “ha=mavdil bein kodesh l’kodesh”, “Who separates between holiness and holiness”.  

                In Jewish tradition, we celebrate holy things separately.  Weddings are not held on holidays because “Rejoicing should not be merged with rejoicing” (Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 8b) Separate joyous occasions should not overshadow one another.  Each should be savored for itself.

                May each of us find joy in this Shabbat, and in the remaining hours of Passover, and look forward to occasions of holiness to come.

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