Shaya Cohen -


Valuing Kisses

This past Rosh Hashanah my family did something we have never done before: at our table we read out The Kisses.

What is a Kiss? A child trips and falls, scraping her knee. Tears and cries flow. The mother comes, scoops up the child in an embrace, and delivers, with great theater: a kiss.

Physiologically, nothing has happened. The knee is still scraped. And yet, everything has changed, because the child knows they are not alone. The mere thought of having someone share your pain, of being there for you, somehow – miraculously – can make it all better.

The idea is found in the Torah: when Joseph is sold into slavery, the traders are transporting spices, instead of any of a number of nastier things that were found in trade. It sounds stupid: your family has just rejected you and sold you into slavery, but it is “ok” because G-d has provided an air freshener!

And yet: the air freshener is a kiss: it is a way of saying, “I am here. I share your pain.” But in order for the kiss to work, you first have to be receptive to the idea of not being alone and afraid, you have to be ok with the idea that G-d is present.

So last year our family took on the idea that every time we feel a kiss, we would share it with an email to our family group – and we did. We wrote about everything from late arrivals that turned out to be “just-in-time”, to listening to that inner voice (the “still, small voice”) and leading to a great negotiation result, to all the times when things could have gone wrong, but instead, sweetly, serendipitously, worked out. All the things that had to go just right – and did! – for me to make it to my mother’s deathbed at the right time despite tens of thousands of miles flown in the weeks before.

It was about 15 pages of snippets in all. We had forgotten most of them over the course of the year, even though at the time they merited a mention. (There are surely many more kisses which we never became aware of – think of the accidents you didn’t have).

On Rosh Hashanah, we read them out, over the course of a few meals, and we toasted G-d, and the relationship with Him that allows us to recognize His kisses.

May we all, in this coming year, be similarly blessed to never be alone, to recognize when nice things happen to us, to always be grateful for those things, and be comforted in good times as well as in bad. Because kisses matter.

[This email is another result of the @iwe and @susanquinn partnership]

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