By Cantor Russell Jayne
(AJNews) – Another Passover is upon us, and we are still living our daily lives in a world that we never could have imagined. Many are still gripped by fear, anxiety, and disbelief. The unknown retains its power to frighten, and we must continue to cope with physical, financial, and emotional worries. Every time the phone dings with a news update, there is another dent in our mental armor. We are depleted, we are distressed, and the questions on everyone’s lips seem to be, “How long can we go on like this? How can we find the strength and positivity to overcome our challenges?”
Though we no longer have prophets to speak to us, we do have Jewish wisdom to guide us.
In a world filled with chaos we yearn for the return of security and stability. We are now preparing for and anticipating Seder night. The definition of Seder is order, exactly the safety net we crave. First, we must hear the message of our Seder. Know without a doubt that we are not alone in this world. Just as our people wondered in Egypt if they would ever get out of the awful darkness they were suffering, we too are wondering, “Are we spiralling out of control? Will we ever see the light again?”
Seder night comes to give us some much-needed perspective. There is marror (bitter herbs), it is true. Our ancestors had many moments of grief. There were times that they were anguished and felt as if they had lost their spirit, but they did not allow the marror moments to overcome them. They were not stripped of their faith. We dip the marror into charoset, a delicious mixture of apples, nuts, wine and honey, to teach us that even in the most difficult of times we must see the sweetness that imbues our life. The friendships, the love, the resilience, the kindness that surrounds us. G-d took us out of Egypt and we will get out of this darkness too.
At our Seder we make a sandwich of matzah and marror with a bit of charoset, for such is life. Sandwiched between the hardships are the flashes of joy. It is these very moments that we must grab onto with all our might. With quarantines and social distancing, take this time to build a bridge. Call or email someone you’ve lost touch with. Think of others who are feeling isolated right now and send them a mental hug with every fibre of your being.
This one germ has spread throughout the world and created havoc. Imagine how one good word, one good deed could spread throughout the world and counter the devastation. Your light could spread from one person to another, and on and on. The antidote to chaos is creation. On this Passover, when our G-d opened up a whole new world for us, let us each resolve to create goodness. Let us resolve to be a blessing.
May you celebrate the Passover in happiness, health, wellness, and peace!
Russell Jayne is the Cantor at Beth Tzedec Congregation, an egalitarian Conservative Synagogue in Calgary.