Monday, March 30, 2020

Passover Advice

Some unsolicited rabbinic advice for Passover for uncertain times:
While I am not a fan of the current public health policy and believe that it is inherently flawed, it is all we have at this present time. [I'd rather not elaborate on the specific halachic problems of the policy here, but plan to do so soon and will share publicly.]
Of course, this is a serious illness with potentially fatal consequences. It's not a 'mere' flu, and is nothing to sneeze at, pardon the pun. It is particularly dangerous for individuals of certain age groups and/or medical conditions, and for those who live with such individuals by extension. Fortunately, for the vast majority of the population, the virus carries no serious risk. Unfortunately and tragically, no effort has been made to differentiate between those at high risk (or who live with those at risk) and those for whom the virus carries minimal risk.
Consequently, at this present time, for the individual who cannot affect public policy, some degree of social distancing seems like the only prudent option.
As such, it would be advisable to scale back on Passover stringencies ('chumraot') that require more shopping and social interaction, especially for individuals in the at-risk category. Perhaps order kosher wine, matza, and other supplies by internet. There are loopholes that can be relied upon to avoid need to immerse new dishes in mikva. PM me and I'll explain.
Although selling chametz is always important, it is particularly important his year, as supplies might be low and/or it might not be practical or safe for you to replenish your staples right after pesach like you might do in regular years. [I will be posting a link to sell your chametz online].
Instead of inviting multiple guests to your seder, perhaps gift them a special hand-baked shmura matza with instructions how to fulfill this awesome mitzvah at home. I will be sharing link to order shmura matza too.
Most importantly, even if you will be in isolation, make your seders meaningful and memorable. Observe each step of the Seder night with joy and inspiration. Relive the experience of going free from Egypt. Remember how G-d leaped over the doors of our ancestors and spared them of the plague, thereby liberating them from bondage. Recall how they too were cautioned not to leave their home on the eve of the Exodus, but how the promise of redemption was right around the corner. Think about the promise of Redemption in our times. 
Are you psyched and ready to be redeemed?
If you have no child present to ask the 4 questions, tap into your inner child and ask the questions yourself!
Then tell your inner child the story of our Exodus. Make it animated and fun, relevant and meaningful.
Embrace the reality that you don't need to go elsewhere to have an authentic Jewish experience...
Have a transformative seder experience in the comfort of your own home!
The shul doesn't make you a Jew, nor does your religious cousin's house. Be a Jew where it counts most... inside your own domicile.
Be authentic and be you.
You are a descendant of Abraham Isaac Jacob, Sarah Rebecca Rachel and Leah. YOU are the children of Israel.
YOU are getting redeemed on this night "by G-d and none other."
Take ownership of your birthright and your destiny.
Don't be a guest or a passive participant. The Exodus is YOUR story. YOU are the main character. Lead your seder with courage and conviction.
Don't feel alone. Open the door to welcome Elijah the Prophet. Pour him a cup too and enjoy his company. Know that he's enjoying your company too.
You are NOT alone. You are one with your people. All your ancestors are rooting for you. You are never alone.
Don't fear disease. Let go of anxiety. Instead, savor the taste of faith and healing*. Eat your shmura matza and digest its powerful message.
Don't cower or sulk in isolation. Instead, revel in the joy and empowerment of redemption.
Wishing you and yours a truly happy and healthy Passover.
Rabbi Michoel Green 

*PS Matza is called the "bread of faith" and "bread of healing" in the Zohar.