About Our Name

Adapted from a d'var Torah written and delivered by Elie Kaunfer, Kehilat Hadar co-founder, introducing the name "Kehilat Hadar" during Sukkot 5762 (October 2001)

Hadar is a noun meaning splendor or glory, and it is also a verb meaning to glorify, respect or honor. It appears numerous times in tefillot: including in the Kaddish (Yithadar) and Ashrei (Hadar k'vod hodecha...Uch'vod hadar malchuto).

Hadar also expresses some of the hopes and aspirations we have for the minyan and the community we are forming. Below we analyze it in three classic relationships: Bein adam l'atzmo (internal), Bein adam l'havero (interpersonal), and Bein adam l'Makom (relationship with God).

Bein adam l'atzmo:
In the Torah, the etrog is referred to as Pri Etz Hadar (fruit of the beautiful tree, or beautiful fruit of the tree). In the Talmud, there is a discussion about what exactly this means. Rabbi Abahu offers the following comment: Don't read Hadar as splendor, rather read it as something which dwells (dar) on its tree from year to year (Sukkah 35a). Rashi explains this to mean that the etrog is the only fruit which remains on the tree from one season to the next. Therefore, an etrog tree has well-ripened fruit from years past co-existing with newly budding fruit from the current year.

We look at this as a metaphor for an ideal internal relationship: We all bring to the community our ripened fruit, the experiences and ideas we have developed in the past, our patterns and rhythms which define us. The challenge is to be open to new ideas and experiences (budding fruit) without rejecting the ripened fruit of our past. We hope to make the minyan a space where people strive for that internal coexistence.

Bein adam l'havero:
Hadar is used in the Torah as a verb in the following verse from Leviticus 19:32: V'hadarta p'nei zaken (Pay respect to the elder). We hope to broaden that mitzvah to include all members of the community: our minyan aspires to be a place where everyone pays respect to each other, from simply introducing yourself to someone new to creating a culture of hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests into your home).

Bein adam laMakom:
There is a rich tradition in rabbinic and kabbalistic literature of God, not only people, needing salvation. This is one understanding of the somewhat cryptic phrase we say repeatedly during the hoshanot: Ani v'ho hoshia na: Save me and Him (referring to God). In this light, we analyzed one final use of the word Hadar in the liturgy:

Psalm 104:1 states: Hod v'hadar lavashta (You dressed in splendor and glory). We traditionally say this line when we put on the talit, and we can imagine God dressing in a metaphoric prayer shawl. The hope we have for this minyan is that through our prayers and actions, we will provide that comforting covering to God, doing our part in contributing to God's salvation. The challenge to strive towards that goal will remain a motivating force behind our activities as a kahal.

We are excited to embrace the name Hadar, with all of its implications and challenges.