Prepent 5774: Day 6, Sacred Gestures
In Judaism we kiss mezuzahs and Torah scrolls—and also the people we love
Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
The prayer book fell to the floor, and M., a gawky teenage girl, leaned over from her chair, picked it up, and gently kissed the cover before returning the book to her lap. Sacred kissing is something that happens often in Jewish life—we kiss mezuzahs and Torah scrolls, holy books when they touch the ground, prayer shawl fringes, and even the exact spot in the Torah where we begin chanting.
And then there are the ways we kiss each other. On lips or cheeks or foreheads, gently on the hand, by blowing in the air, with passion or by rote, often or rarely. Kissing is a simple but powerful act symbolizing connection, greeting, respect, or desire—what Edmond Rostand called a “message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee’s brief visit to a flower.”
Prepent day 6: this process of reflection and refinement returns, once again, to how we feel and act in our bodies. How do you want to kiss, and be kissed, this year? The act can illustrate affection between lovers, but it’s also the poetic symbol for the connection between mind, body, and other forms of being in our lives.
“Kiss me from the kisses of your mouth,” she declares in the Song of Songs.
“I kiss my shoulder every morning,” J. tells me shyly, “it’s how I start the day.”
Give your next kiss, no matter what kind and to whom, with more intention. Let’s see what happens.
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.
Police arrest 14 ultra-Orthodox protestors who claim the area is a burial site