Why Is This Passover Night Different?

 “The Ten Commandments“, is the 1956 classic film, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, that dramatized the biblical story of the Book of Exodus. The observance of the Passover holiday this year begins April 8th. The Seder dinner that evening is highlighted by the ancient ritual of reading the Haggadah aloud and discussing the story of the ancient Hebrew slaves being freed from Egypt and receiving the Torah and becoming the Jewish people.  ABC television has shown this movie every year during this holiday season.

This year because of the COVID 19 pandemic, many families will be alone and not be able to conduct all the traditions of the seder: the youngest child singing the 4 questions, the re-telling and the Q and A of this story. The family thanksgiving style meal and the hugging and kissing of the relatives that usually travel far and wide to be together for the occasion.

The folk song, “Turn! Turn! Turn”, was a hit song in 1962, as was recorded by the Byrds. The song was written by Pete Seeger, but the first 8 verses are taken verbatim from the third chapter the Book of Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon, who was the King of Ancient Israel.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal: a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

The biblical text describes how in life we find that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time for war and a time for peace. The last verse is so appropriate during this time of social distancing.

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” People of faith are refraining from embracing their family members at the Passover Seder. Unfortunately, they are also refraining from embracing their creator and not attending services in Synagogues. This Passover is different.

People are observing this major Jewish holiday, not as remembrance of freedom with joy and embrace, but rather as broken, as a broken matza. When Jews eat the Matza at the Seder night this year, it will be different. There are too many broken matzas this Passover. People are alone, without family and friends, people are isolated or in the hospital.  This Passover is different.

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When the time returns to embrace as it surely will, my hope is that we will be better parents, better friends, a better nation, country and a better world. 

When COVID 19 began the media reported about the selfishness of people hoarding paper goods, masks and hand sanitizers, and only worried about self-preservation. 

Today, the media is reporting about all the local heroes that are helping their neighbors, strangers and their community by doing what is right and what is needed. People that stay at home or wear mask are  doing it for the WE and not the I.

If you take the word “illness”, you can see it starts with the letter “I”. When you replace the selfish letter “I”, with the communal “WE”, what happens?

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