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Passover has become a very special time for me. Not only do we celebrate the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, but it arrives at a time of new beginnings: springtime.
This year, Passover time fills my heart with mixed emotions. I will not be able to celebrate with the @iwe family in Baltimore. They have grounded my Passover observance in holiness and light, and they were central to my own personal spring/rebirth, my return to Judaism. This year I have asked my husband to participate in a mini-Seder, just the two of us, so that we might observe not only the Jews’ freedom from slavery, but also how we are called to pay attention to the real and imaginary ways that we enslave ourselves, and how we might transcend those limitations.
This year many of us feel like we are captive to a dangerous oppressor, the coronavirus. It demands at the very least that we recognize the societal costs and the steps we can take to protect ourselves and others. Even though we realize the importance of these steps, it only makes sense that our first instinct is to rebel at least emotionally against the limitations that the government and our neighbors have asked us to observe. We have come to take our freedom for granted. We might be tempted to act like rebels against our enslavement. We might want to “break the rules,” demand our freedom, and rail against the narrow lives we feel compelled to follow right now.
If we stop for a moment, though, we can call ourselves back to the meaning of Passover and the indications of spring. This is a time of rebirth, of noting what it really means to be free.
We are not trapped in our homes unless we believe that we are. Our homes can be our prisons, or they can be our sanctuaries. We have the freedom to express ourselves, to walk around and note the things of beauty in each part of our dwellings: photographs, artwork, favorite knickknacks. We can write, telephone, or Skype anyone in the world, and wish them well. In other words, slavery in these times is only in our hearts and minds. We are free to reach out to others, help them find ways to liberate themselves, and provide them comfort in the process.
Remember: we are free.Published in