Looking back at what I have written for my Pesach posts over the last years, my heart aches, as it does for everyone, for what we enjoyed and for what we had been so looking forward to again this year. We had planned to go to our son for the Seder along with our younger daughter and her family, plus our younger son. It would have been fun, noisy and chaotic. Instead we will be sitting in our own home at our very small seder, with just our younger son for company. Moreover from this afternoon until tomorrow (or is it until Friday? It is a bit confusing) we will be under a real curfew, forbidden to leave our houses at all. This is a situation that none of us have ever found ourselves in, but we all understand that it is in order to prevent the spread of the virus through family and friends get-togethers over the festival.
Understanding the rationale for the restrictions placed on us – from the upcoming curfew, to the standing order not to walk further than 100m from our homes unless it’s for necessary shopping or medical reasons, to the social distancing, isolation, plus the menacing fear in the background that G-d forbid we or our loved ones might become ill – doesn’t necessarily make us feel better. In fact what many of us are feeling is a kind of grief.
I am so tempted to complain and moan (and have been heard to do so!), even mourn what we have (hopefully temporarily) lost. But since we are on the eve of Pesach when we are commanded to be happy since it is a joyous festival, I am trying very hard to count my blessings
I am not alone, I have my husband.
I have a roof over my head
I have plenty of food
I have clothes to wear
I have my children, grandchildren, siblings and parents. I also many friends, and even if I can’t see them physically, at least close-up, I can talk with them electronically.
Most importantly, we are living in Israel, which I am doubly grateful for. It is the Land of our Fathers, we are living and creating Jewish history here, and are going to hold our Seder in the country which our ancestors could only dream of being able to do.
I am also so grateful to G-d that we are in Israel because I feel it is one of the few countries that seems to know how to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. No, the numbers are not great but they could have been so much worse.
With all this in mind, this is not going to be a regular Pesach post. You can read my previous posts at this link for those who are interested.
Instead I shall bring you here some uplifting items to improve your mood before the chag.
Here is the always-inspiring Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, talking about the difficulty of social isolation davka at this time when we normally sit with our family and friends in large gatherings at the Seder table. He talks about the Israeli initiative for people to open their windows and balconies on Seder night so that we can all hear each other during the Seder, and thus ease the feelings of isolation especially for those on their own.
Everyone stand at your window and balconies and sing Ma Nishtana at 8.30 tonight. We can be together even in isolation and social distancing. Chag Sameach! #Pesach #SederNight #corona pic.twitter.com/6sncvpHgVO
— anneinpt (@anneinpt) April 8, 2020
Our Rabbanit, Rachel Lifschutz, posted some beautiful and thought-provoking words on our shul’s Whatsapp group which I am going to translate and post here:
This year’s Seder night, which because of the circumstances will take place in more limited formats, can actually be an opportunity to delve into parts of the Haggadah that we did not reach in previous years because of the background noise of the children or because we rushed due to the multitude of participants.
Every year, the mathematical discussion about the number of plagues in the middle of the Haggadah amazed me a lot. There are different and varied interpretations. I’m going to try another direction. Do you know what 3D glasses are? You see a picture or movie, put on the 3D glasses and suddenly everything is seen in depth and you see wonderful things we couldn’t see before. In this mathematical section of the Haggadah we are given three-dimensional glasses to see what goes beyond the ten plagues. To see even to a small extent the depth of G-d’s leadership of the world. Not everything is flat, there is much beyond what we can see. And there are levels: 40, 50, 250 … depending on the “device” through which things are examined. A magnifying glass shows more than usual, a microscope deepens the vision and there are devices that allow even deeper vision.
Once we were at a hotel in Jerusalem on Shabbat on the 10th floor. Every time we went up the stairs I was happily surprised because on the first floor, we only saw the backyard, but the higher up we went, we saw Jerusalem spread out before us in all its glory and beauty.
These days, we only see and hear Corona. But we will try to put on the 3D glasses especially on the Seder night and try to see a bit further. Because obviously there are depths in these things that we do not understand or see and we will continue to believe that everything that God does is all for the best.
Happy Passover to you and your family. Take care and may we soon be able celebrate with everyone together.
And to close this rather different Pesach post, here are the musicians of the Israeli Philharmonic, playing “separately but together”, each musician in their own home but together creating a harmonious whole.
I would like to wish all my readers, along with all of Klal Yisrael, a chag kasher vesame’ach – a happy and Kosher Passover. May we all merit to celebrate, together and in good health!, in rebuilt Jerusalem “speedily in our days” as we say in the Seder.
Wishing you all Chag Kasher Ve’Samea’ach!