While Standing (Six Feet Apart) on One Foot
Erev Pesach – April 8, 2020
Why is this night different than any other night?
When we ask that simple question, the answer this year can be either, ‘Where do I begin?’ or ‘Oy! Where have you been?!’ No one, and I mean no one, is ever going to forget Pesach 2020. Zoom seders, long distance hug and tears of missing family is going to leave an indelible mark on all of us.
We are told to see ourselves as if we, ourselves, were slaves in Egypt. We’re supposed to put ourselves in their place and feel the same kind of constraints they did. We don’t have to imagine very deeply. We are bound to our homes trying to prevent the Angel of Death from entering. We fear for our families and especially our parents and grandparents who seem to be the most vulnerable to this virus. We worry about our financial security and our very future. No, we don’t need to see ourselves as if we feel the same anxiety as the slaves…we feel it immediately and acutely.
But at the same time as we feel fear and anxiety Pesach is not about feeling that terrible loss. The Seder is not just an empathic exercise. The Seder is a message. It is a message of hope and optimism.
It has been said that the word for Egypt ‘Mitzrayim’ means ‘Narrow place,’ a place of constraint. But it is not the ultimate fate of either the Jew or the gentile. The ultimate place is the other side of the split sea with the hope of the future and the hope in the future before us. Soon, we pray, we may walk through our own Sea of Reeds and, as a nation and planet, emerge to another reality without COVID. Like the Israelites, we will be changed forever. Life will be different in so many ways. It may be that the defining moment of our lives is this pandemic. And the Hagaddah that is being written upon our hearts and will be retold and retold again will have a conclusion of hope and joy.
God willing, we are seeing signs that this disease is starting to abate. We are all anxious to get outside and resume our lives. But we are not there yet. Find even more patience. The story of our deliverance didn’t happen in one day. Israel was not free overnight. But they did leave Egypt and that constraining place. We will too.
I pray that all of us stay healthy and safe. May this be a Pesach where we all feel the same as our ancestors. We already know their anxiety. May we all soon know their freedom from our own fears and anxiety and may we feel the same hope that they felt. Soon and in our day….Amen!