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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Kadesh 3

Kadesh is a form of Kiddush that we usually say on Yom Tov, and the text is no different from any Kiddush that we would say on any Erev Yom Tov. Therefore, we have to find out what it is that makes this Kiddush different. As part of the Seder, it means that it is seems to be serving a dual function. One of them is that it is a regular Kiddush as we would say before a Yom Tov meal, and the other is that it is the first step of the Seder. That means that we have to look at this Kiddush in a different perspective than we normally do. Moreover, the cup of wine that we are using for this Kiddush is not just any cup of wine; it’s one of the four cups. So there’s added significance to the Kiddush, and to the cup of wine itself.

The Or Hachaim Hakadosh, in his commentary on Shemot, focuses on the words of the Kiddush, “…who chose us from all the nations of the world.” Why is it that the name of the portion in which the Torah was given is named for Yitro? It’s very nice that Yitro had a deep impact on the Jewish people. He is the one who suggested the leadership system to Moshe. But to name the portion in which the Ten Statements are given and Revelation is made after Yitro is difficult to understand. So name a different portion after him! This is especially so if this portion is written out of chronological order, as Rashi understands it, and that the episode of Yitro really came after the events of the portion of Ki Tisa. So put Yitro after Ki Tisa, and name this portion, ‘Revelation.’

The Or Hachaim says something which I think is fantastic. He explains that God wanted to show the Jews, both in that generation and in every generation, that there are people of wisdom and understanding in all the nations of the world, and the Jews are no different. The truth is that while Yitro was not of the Jewish people, he had unbelievable perception and wisdom. He was able see the greatness of God from the outside and independently decided to join the Jews.

Therefore, the portion in which the Torah is given to us is the portion in which we have to remember that [we don’t have a monopoly on wisdom and holiness – DG]. (“Don’t think that you’re getting the Torah because you are more perceptive than anyone else, and don’t think that you’re getting the Torah because you’re holier than anyone else. You’re all the same.)

So why did God give us the Torah? The Or Hachaim says that there are two reasons. The first is due to His love for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had this personal relationship with them, which was unique. Because we are their descendants, there is something inside of us, which is also inherently unique. And not because we achieved it on our own, but because our ancestors were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Until they appeared in the world, God had a two-way relationship with humanity, but it was a relationship that was initiated by God. As such, there was one party providing both sides of the two-way relationship. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set out to develop their own parts of the two-way relationship. Abraham develops his side through Chesed, Isaac through Din, or Judgement, and Jacob through Tiferet. That’s why they were special.

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