Appetites loom large each Passover. Feasting on fresh fruits and veggies, meats and eggs, cheeses and nuts and, of course, matzah, after a few days folks become obsessively hungry for what they don’t have: bread, pizza, bagels… As someone who cooks a lot during this week, this is frustrating and confusing! But spring is a time of awakened hunger. In another kind of hunger, Song of Songs, erotic poetry of the Bible is featured on Shabbat of Passover. Gorgeous, melodic, a stunning song. I first chanted from the Song 2 years ago, and again this Pesach. Intrigued at first because it was provocative, I soon learned it was beautiful. Eventually it completely captured me: Love is as strong as death, the poem proclaims, and love is what God is most about, and what is Godly in our relationships.
Also chanted on Shabbat of Pesach are Torah verses which follow the incident of the Golden calf in Exodus. What were the Israelites hungry for after Moses disappeared up that moApuntain? Did they revert to idolatry because they wanted bread? On the contrary, they were hungry for a relationship with the Divine. But they feared they had been abandoned by Moses, and by God. After all, they had not long ago recovered from a 400 year abandonment. So they built what they knew, an idol. But the point is they hungered for relationship with God. And Moses will echo this hunger as he climbs Sinai a second time. “Please, let me experience your Cavod (honor, glory, ways?)” Moses begs. He has dedicated .his life to God and is hungry to know the Divine more fully. And God’s Goodness will pass near Moses, and God will proclaim that the Divine nature is kindness and forgiveness and grace. Moses will restore those smashed tablets, and be forever changed, aglow from this encounter, his hunger fulfilled, a relationship of love with God a permanent part of his being. Around the dinner table this beautiful Spring, I hope that hunger will be for love, and kindness, and with the yearning to connect with one another and the Goodness in this Universe
April is the cruelest month, mixing memory and desire, wrote Elliot. Passover mixes memory and desire! Also, during this first week of counting Omer, of numbering our days between Pesach and Shavuot, the theme is loving kindness! I love it when things converge!