Finding Freedom in Quarantine
Updated: Mar 31
When I was a young child at summer camp, we used to have learning classes every day, and at the end, there would be an announcement on the PA system, "learning never ends, learning never ends, we will now take a short break..."
This is certainly true during these interesting times. Davening and learning do not end. Obviously we cannot gather together to make a minyan or a class, but we must continue to daven; each person by themself at home, put on Tefilin, say some Tehilim. We can even study Torah through the many available options online. We must continue to do so and increase in our Torah and Mitzvos observance. We must ask Hashem to send a speedy recovery to all those that are sick and to send the cure to this virus with the coming of Moshiach speedily, even before Pesach. This way, we will celebrate Pesach properly with the paschal offering in Jerusalem.
מַה נִּשְּׁתַּנָה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת?
We all know that this year, Pesach is different. With everyone staying home and not venturing out besides for necessities, creates an eerie atmosphere, and many of us will not be celebrating this year with family and friends as they have planned, but allow me to point out something else.
Everything in life, even the most challenging of circumstances has a silver lining, something positive that comes from it or that we can learn from it.
בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם
We say in the Haggada that in every generation a person is to see himself as if he himself left Egypt. The word for Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim which comes from the word Meitzar which translates to limitation. Chasidus teacher us to read this as follows: In every generation, a person is obligated to go out from his or her limitations and barriers, and to transcend the imaginary self-imposed borders and to reach ever higher in your divine service and connection with Hashem.
This idea we have spoken about in Shul many times, but this year it is more real than ever. While the world is trembling with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and doctors and scientists are rushing to find an effective treatment, the rest of us are told to stay at home. All non-essential stores, businesses, schools are closed, all restaurants and malls are closed. Broadway is dark. Flights and cruises are cancelled. There is nowhere to go, and nowhere to travel or vacation. The American way of life has effectively been put on hold.
This provides us with a pristine opportunity. An opportunity to see that all the materialism that we were indulged in and the rat race of vanity that we were pursuing with no end in sight and without our own ability to get out, has been imposed upon us from a higher power. We are being pulled out of our mundane world we are in and are forced to focus on what is truly important in life; family, health and religion.
Surprise, surprise we are doing just fine! We are alive and well without all the razzle and dazzle of Times Square and all that it represents. This year Pesach is truly זמן חרותינו the season of our liberation. We are truly a free people this year; not being tied down to the external forces of nothingness that holds us prisoner and does not allow us to see our fullest potential.
This year when we sit down by the Seder and drink the 4 cups of wine – the free man's drink – we can truly appreciate what it means to free. Not just in theory but in practice; since we have been living this way for the past couple of weeks. When all this is over, we should remember what it means to be free and not go back to our old – negative – habits but use this as a springboard to live a more wholesome Jewish life.
I hope to see you in shul soon.
Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and Kosher Pesach,
Rabbi Shimmy Silver