My dear people of Israel, this year we are celebrating the Passover seder in difficult circumstances, in the shadow of coronavirus, a plague for modern times. It has necessitated harsh rules for us all.
Suddenly, we have started to realize how precious the simple things are that make up our day-to-day lives: things like going out to breathe in the spring air that comes along with Passover each spring; like the busy and bustling, very Israeli nature of our holiday preparations; like the beloved, well-known family gathering around the seder table.
Suddenly, when we are compelled to observe social distancing, lockdowns and family isolation, it throws into sharp relief the commandment to “tell your son,” the act of passing the story on from one generation to the next, from the grandmothers and grandfathers to their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Because that is our story, our anchor. That is what binds us together, even when we are forced to be separated.
But despite everything, a holiday atmosphere has arrived and is present. It is a unique one. In spite of everything, we will gather around the seder table, recite the Shehecheyanu blessing, and tell the story—to those who recline at our sides, as well as to those who are just as close but forced to celebrate with us from a distance.
The book of Exodus, in describing the suffering of the Jews in Egypt, says, “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).
In these times, we are all praying—separately, but together—young and old, religious and secular, for better times to come. We are all asking, “Remember the covenant with our forefathers.”
And for you children: Even if this year we won’t be celebrating the seder like we do every year, but will be with our immediate families only, don’t give up the traditions and the special Passover songs. Other than that, remember that the more intimate the seder is, the better chance you have of finding the afikomen.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.