Actually, it’s story #2 of my favorite things, yesterday’s being #1. And the toast is to our kiddush cup, which we bought almost 36 years ago. We were married in Jerusalem, where we were learning in yeshiva. In those days, we women called it learning in yeshiva, not seminary, just like the men. My, how things have changed.
Anyway, when we were getting ready to leave to go back to the states, we went to Meah Shearim to go change our Israeli money back into dollars. In those days, the custom was to use moneychangers who would give you the best exchange rate. The one we most frequently use was the owner of a bookstore in Meah Shearim. After we had done our business with him, we were walking on the main street there (where I wouldn’t want to walk today, due to all the what’s the politest way to say garbage? that is going on there now) and both of us did a double-take at a store window.
Wait. I think I’m getting my stories mixed up. The double-take is actually when we were in San Francisco before we got married. We walked by a window and literally turned back to look at a china pattern in a store window. We both were taken by the simplicity of the look and we decided to order the pattern. Little did we know how ridiculous that would turn out, since it was from Finland (have you heard of any china from Finland? Oh yes actually there was this Arabia, which apparently was very popular in those days) and impossible to re-order. And it turns out it wasn’t china but very expensive stoneware.
Live and learn.
The story of the kiddush cup was that we went into another bookstore for something else after we had exchanged our money and then saw the cup.
Now, we both felt a pull towards it, the design alone. Then we read what is engraved on the cup.
אין שמחה אלא ביין
There is no joy without wine.
The background for this statement is a somewhat complicated discussion from Maimonides in two different places about the nature of how to celebrate holidays. During the time of the Holy Temple, when sacrifices were given and eaten, eating meat was a way to experience the happiness of holidays. After the destruction of the Temple, then the only way to reach this happiness was through wine, which thankfully was still allowed.
I said it was complicated and I will leave the discussion for another time, perhaps. But the bottom line was that certainly for those of us who do not eat meat and do enjoy wine, this cup says it all.
So it was the perfect cup for us.
Except we didn’t have any money left, having used up what we could spare for I don’t remember what–gifts?
Needless to say, we figured out a way to pay for it, and we did and it’s ours.
There’s another part of the story, about the actual design, but I’ll leave that to when I talk about one of our menorahs.