Presumably this Pesach, exactly one year from the first COVID lockdown, it will be easier for us to feel free. Although COVID is still alive and breathing, if last year we spent Seder night locked inside our homes with only our nuclear families, this year with G-d's help we are able to celebrate Pesach with our extended families as well.
In this week’s parsha we also find a group of people who were locked inside a compound. The Torah says of the kohanim, "And they should dwell in the Mishkan for 7 days and they should guard the shift of G-d (the holy work of the Mishkan).” The Torah is talking about the kohanim who, in the seven days before the opening of the Mishkan on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, were recruited to prepare for the work of the Mishkan, and were ordered to be in the Mishkan compound without leaving for the full 7 days.
Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra wrote about this: "A great sage says they dug a place in the courtyard of the Mishkan" - meaning, that the kohanim did not leave the Mishkan at all for those seven days, and even prepared a location in the compound to serve as restroom facilities. However, the Ibn Ezra writes that this interpretaion is farfetched so he interprets the Torah verse to mean "they went out when needed by day and by night." Meaning that although the priests came out of the Mishkan when necessary, it is still considered that they were there all seven days, because the main thing they were busy with that week were the days of service in the Mishkan.
There may also have been days when it would have been necessary to be outside the Mishkan for most of the day for various reasons, but that is still considered "and the opening of the tent (Mishkan) you shall not leave for seven days" because most of their thoughts and intentions during those days were given to the work of the Mishkan. So we learn from the words of Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra that the definition of a person's connection to something is not only measured in the time in which he engages in it, but in his mental connection to it.
We can see this example in the lives of many of us. There are many people who love Torah, and desire to study it for many hours each day. However, because of the necessity of providing for their families they cannot actualize what their heart desires, so they study, for example, an hour a day. That 1 hour is very precious to G-d, and it reveals the deep and true connection they have with the Torah.
The Sages taught us to "make your Torah permanent and your work temporary." The difference between "permanent" and "temporary" is not a difference of quantity but a difference of quality. There can be one person who engages in Torah study for many hours but he feels distant from the Torah and there can be a someone else who studies Torah for a shorter time, but his Torah study is the highlight of his day, and all day he longs for the time that he can sit and study Torah. Such a person, because of his emotional connection to the Torah, fulfills “Make your Torah study permanent” to perfection. Also, it is impossible for the love of Torah to be platonic - that a person loves the Torah without studying it at all. A person whose heart is indeed full of love for Torah will make the greatest effort to study Torah as much as possible.
Pesach is the best time to renew our service of G-d and to fulfill all of the dreams that we have about our relationship with the Creator of the world. Wishing success for all of us.
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai Rabbinical Organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah Menachem community in Modi'in