Published March 2021
The Power of Color and Sound
There is a wonderful bit of Passover folklore that comes out of the shtetl. The question is asked: “why is matzah called matzah”? The answer is: Because it has the shape of matzah; it has small holes like matzah; it tastes like matzah. What else can you call it but matzah?
Judaism, quite correctly, perceives that we experience the world and God not merely through intellect but also through our senses and feelings. It’s a treasure trove of color and sound. We taste the matzah and the bitter herbs on Pesach, we smell the Havdalah spices, and we recognize Erev Shabbat in our homes by its lovely aromas.
We hear the Shofar, the notes of the Torah and the Haftarah, and the rhythm of the prayers. We see the flickering lights of the candles on Friday night and the menorah on Hanukkah. We observe the flames of the Yahrzeit lamp and we read the words of the Torah. With our fingers we feel the Tallit and Tefillin; and we use our hands to cook the meals for Pesach and Shabbat. Every Jew knows how Passover feels! So we can readily see that Judaism is translated for us not merely through the mind but also our senses and our emotions.
As Nahum Sokolow put it: “Things done delightfully and rightly are always done by the help and spirit of God.”
Chag sameach! A very happy and healthy Passover to you all!
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD