Corona-Pesach vignettes

This Pesach, as we embrace renewed freedom, we will have no trouble feeling as if we have just left Egypt - as we sit with family once more and thank G-d for His chesed.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

"Shalom Sivan,

This is Dr. Naftali Gross. We are on the eve of the festival of freedom, the eve of the Exodus from Egypt, and I can definitely feel the meaning of freedom. This is my last shift in the Corona Department of Shaare Zedek Hospital.

The last patients are being released. We are closing up the department. Who would have ever believed it? Baruch Hashem.

During the last year, those of us in the department were on a different planet, far from anything you experienced in the world outside. First and foremost were the dear patients and their families, who fought just to breathe and to live, plain and simple.

But the difficulty was much greater and it was keenly felt from the heads of all the hospital departments to the volunteers. Disaster followed disaster and the victories did not succeed in covering up the hellish feelings of loss. Total darkness. I find it extremely difficult to relive all those times we said vidui (prayer of confession recited before death) with the dying person whom we covered with a tallit and whose family could not be there at the end to say goodbye.

When the Torah describes Egyptian slavery, it highlights moments of loving concern: Miriam's anxiety over the future of her people; the heroism of the midwives; the compassion of Moshe for the weak. These are the points of light that illuminate the darkness. Looking back, even amidst the darkest days, I could identify many moments like these -- drinking tea with a patient, speaking words of encouragement, receiving a package of goodies sent to us with a thank you note.

I do not know why it was decreed upon our generation to fight this war, but I know that we wrote a chapter of history together. We will tell our grandchildren about this difficult period -- about the brilliant and astonishing Exodus of Israel from darkness into light in our own time.

Rabbi Kook writes that the Exodus from Egypt has not ended, but that it must always continue: 'The Exodus from Egypt will eternally remain the springtime of the entire world.'

I leave the corona department and go outside, breathe deeply, and truly feel that springtime has come at last."

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"Shalom Sivan, This is Hila Morad from Safed. During the first lockdown last year, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, I gave birth to our son Moshe-Yitzchak. We have almost forgotten about the crisis at that time. A paralyzing dread was in the air. For consolation, I thought about the women of Egypt, the righteous ones who gave birth despite Pharaoh's decree (that baby boys were to be thrown into the Nile). Inspired by their strength, I gave birth in the shadow of that terrible fear of the corona. In those days when we shut ourselves at home and prayed for redemption, we decided to call our precious newborn Moshe, the redeemer of Israel.

The brit took place without anyone present, in accordance with the corona restrictions. Just the mohel and us. The second name that Moshe received was Yitzchak, the same as grandpa Yitzchak who very much wanted to be the sandak (godfather) at the brit, but did not get that privilege. For a full year they told us not to visit grandpa and grandma in order to protect them and to protect us. Everything happened at a distance, with immense longing. In the course of the past year, we caught the coronavirus but recovered, and now Moshe-Yitzchak is one year old.

Several days ago we went to visit them. Moshe-Yitzchak saw Grandpa Yitzchak and Grandma Sarah for the first time - and he just cried and cried. He didn't know who they were. All babies born this year were shut inside their homes and now every adult is a stranger to them. We are now working on establishing a new and different connection between a one-year-old baby and 'new' grandparents. And now, baruch Hashem, it's finally possible to sit together around the same table.

How ironic that the very same holiday in which we first experienced separation a year ago is now the holiday in which we reunite. How symbolic that this holiday is all about the connection between generations - 'and you shall tell your son.' 'It is that promise to Avraham that protected our fathers and us.' 'Who redeemed us and redeemed our forefathers.' We feel that the story of our Moshe-Yitzchak is another chapter in this unique, never-ending story of our nation."

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And now, putting the recent Israeali elections into perspective:

The elections were held on a dramatic day in the Hebrew calendar the 10th of Nissan. Two historic events occurred on this day, thousands of years ago.

On the 10th of Nissan, several days before the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel set aside sheep to be sacrificed four days later, prior to the first Pesach. Our commentators note that the sheep was considered a deity by the idol worshiping Egyptians. Therefore the setting aside of a sheep for slaughter was a harbinger of freedom and redemption. The Jewish people dared to go against the accepted norms of the Egyptians as a first step on the road to independence.

Years later, it is told in the Book of Joshua that the 10th of Nissan was the day when the Jewish people crossed the Jordan River and first set foot in the Land of Israel. The fact that on this day Jews first entered the Land of Israel together as a nation is also noted in the Knesset legislation of 2016 that made the 10th of NIssan into Yom HaAliyah (Aliyah Day), an Israeli national holiday.

All of us are products of Aliyah. Everyone who lives here is a new immigrant, or the child of a new immigrants, or the grandchild of a new immigrant, etc., etc. It's a continuous ingathering of the exiles project.

And so, yes, on the 10th of Nissan we went to the polls to vote in the fourth elections in two years.

But if we look back into the past we are reminded that our history is greater than what is happening today and far more ancient.



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