I want to let you all in a secret Jewish handshake that happens only twice a year. There is a special greeting for the middle days of the festivals of Passover and Sukkot, known has Hol HaMoed (the "regular" part of 7 day festivals). Growing up I always said Chag Sameach -- and it wasn't until I got to rabbinical school that I realized it wasn't actually the chag, the festival itself.
And that's when a friend who had went to Jewish day school (that is where this handshake is most often taught) explained to me that you can say, "Moadim L'Simcha!" This special greeting for the middle days of Passover and Sukkot means 'Joyous Festivals!' And then the person can respond: "Chagim u'zmanim l'sasson" which means "Joyous holidays and seasons!"
These greetings can create both intimacy and alienation. They can texture time and cue us towards joy. And they can also send us deep into a spiral of Jewish inadequacy. For this reason, I am going to dedicate a session in May as part of Judaism as a Spiritual Practice to learning about different Jewish greetings and salutations, and what they teach us about Jewish time and community. To get a sneak peak, check out this video Rabbi Michelle just sent out to the Torah School (you can use this song to practice!).
While we can't make ourselves feel happy, we can use the greeting as a reminder to exit our daily routine and integrate an extra moment of things that genuinely bring us joy. And this is what I mean when I say to each of you, Moadim L'Simcha! Carve out an extra moment of joy for yourself.
Very much looking forward to being together this Shabbat!
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.