While Standing (Six Feet Apart) on One Foot
Pesach Day One
April 9, 2020
In Greek philosophy, Plato describes a strange concept that grows more appealing to me every day. It is called the ‘world of forms.’ Bear with me.
You are probably sitting on a chair. It is easily identified as a chair. And yet there are an infinite varieties of chairs! How can they all be chairs? What Plato suggested is that there is a a realm outside of the world of substance (our world) called the world of forms where perfect chair exists that contains the template for all other chairs that were, are and will be. (By the way, Plato said that if you can grasp the vision and consequences of the world of forms, you have achieved true knowledge).
In the world of forms, there must be a perfect Seder from which all others S’darim flow. If that is so, is there any way that such a form could have created a Passover Seder like last night’s – a model that was duplicated a million times last night over Zoom, Facebook, Skype and so forth? Never did I entertain the idea that a Seder would be so physically distant from each other yet so close and meaningful. In the world of forms this Seder was unlike anything I have ever seen!
There was a beautiful sense of belonging and community last night that each of us felt. I could not get out of the house to get a shinbone and ShopRite ran out long before I got there! And so you shared your shankbone with me and the group. There were roasted shankbones made out of vegetables, chicken bones were roasted and were a good stand-in. And, of course, Mark and Kim’s cutout and mounted photo of a shankbone since that was the best they could do hunkered down in Raleigh. I can see God laughing with delight at our efforts and I hope God was pleased with our Seders commemorating the story of our people.
But we didn’t do the Seder for God. We did it for ourselves. We did it to affirm that this keystone story – a story of our people that affects all other stories – still lives within us. We did it to affirm that we care for and about one another. (One of the comments last night was ‘I would be lost without it’ – It was a beautiful and heartfelt appreciation of TBM). And we did it because its messages of plague and freedom resonate this year in ways we never could have anticipated.
The plague comes before the freedom. And the freedom is coming soon to resume our lives as normally as possible. But the freedom will not be complete: we will be bound to the memories of this terrible time and bound to the sorrows of those who suffered. Freedom is never complete. It is always a movement in small steps forward. Yet, despite all that, we have affirmed just through the act of sitting in front of our computers that, as a family and community, we will take the next steps together.
As the Hagaddah says, ‘All who are hungry, let them come and eat.’ We will get through this encouraging each other. And, our invitation stands: when you are hungry for the support only a community can offer, we are here and there is a place set at the table for you