This Passover, the seders will indeed be a different night for so many obvious reasons. Many of the people we normally share the evening with may be far away—or even half a mile away. But for all intents and purposes, they might as well be across the world. That will be different. Many of us will be holding our seders by Zoom. That will surely be different.
How do you find spiritual fulfillment? Maybe it's through traditional prayer, or maybe it's through a walk in the woods or a jam session with friends. This week's Torah portion suggests it might be confusing to offer alternative paths to spiritual connection, but as a rabbi I take the opposite approach.
As COVID 19 continues to spread, Oregon has finally come under a complete lock-down, called “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Despite the euphemistic name, this new order, and the restrictions leading up to it, have posed severe challenges to a religion and a culture that are centered on gathering, praying and breaking bread together.
As we read Parshat Vayikra, especially at a time when our community simply is not physically able to come together in person to apologize, to forgive, and to move on, we are reminded that each of us holds the key to our own journey to forgiveness. And perhaps an added benefit of this period of isolation is merely the time to look inward and finally use that key. Shabbat shalom.
As we read Parshat Vayakhel and Pekudei, we are nudged to ask ourselves, instead of the Tabernacle, what is the reminder of our covenant with God that we carry each day? Our society has evolved that we don’t necessarily need a separate physical reminder in our community to be good; the reminder is how we act toward each other.
Two narratives - a reminder to rest on Shabbat and the frantic rashness of the Golden Calf - seem vastly different, yet are linked through this week's Torah portion. Perhaps the lesson is that had the Israelites actually taken the opportunity to rest while Moses was on the mountain, they wouldn't have engaged in idolatry.