The Hebrew word “Kiddush” means sanctification. But it is not the wine we sanctify. Instead, the wine is a symbol of the sanctity, the preciousness, and the sweetness of this moment. Held together by sacred bonds of family, friendship, peoplehood, we share this table tonight with one another and with all the generations who have come before us. Let us rise, and sanctify this singular moment. HOW? We will drink four cups of wine at the Seder in celebration of our freedom. (Grape juice is fine too.) We stand, recite the blessing, and enjoy the first cup. L'chaim! The blessing praises God for creating the "fruit of the vine." We recite the blessing, not over the whole grape, but over wine — squeezed and fermented through human skill. So, too, the motzee blessing is recited not over sheaves of wheat but over bread, leavened or unleavened, ground and kneaded and prepared by human hands. The blessing is over the product cultivated through human and divine cooperation: We bless the gifts of sun, seed and soil transformed by wisdom and purpose to sustain the body and rejoice the soul.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p'ri hagafen.
Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.
Praised are You, Lord our God, Whose presence fills the universe. Who creates the fruit of the vine. Praised are You, Lord our God, Whose presence fills the universe, Who has called us for service from among the peoples of the world, sanctifying our lives with Your commandments. In love, You have given us festivals for rejoicing and seasons of celebration, this Festival of Matzot, the time of our freedom, a commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt. Praised are You, Lord, Who gave us this joyful heritage and Who sanctifies Israel and the festivals.
Say this Shehechiyanu blessing the first Seder night only:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶה
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam,
she’hecheyanu v'ki'manu v'higi-anu laz'man hazeh.
Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe,
who has sustained us, maintained us and enabled us to reach this moment in life.
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