Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach!

March 26, 2021

 

This week, more than any other since the pandemic began, has seemingly felt like we are turning the corner on COVID. Yes, we still need to make smart decisions, socially distance where appropriate, mask-up in public, and unquestionably pursue vaccination whenever possible. Yet, this week has just felt a little different.

This week I had the opportunity to attend a few outdoor meetings where, as double-vaccinated attendees, we unmasked and faced one another, creating the ability to see facial expressions, understand one another’s body language and unspoken words, and feel the energy from being near one another.

Something strange occurred at these meetings, both when we first met and again when we said our goodbyes.  What awkward exchange needed to replace the handshake and/or the hug? In one formal meeting, the age-old handshake turned into an elbow bump and in another, it was a closed-fist knuckle tap. In the informal get-together, my friend and I noticed our unconscious holding of our breath while hugging our goodbye (our welcome was an awkward instinctive move toward one another with a restrained look of “great to see you”).

Humans are a social species. From when Gd told Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18) to Aristotle who years later was quoted saying, “Man is by nature a social animal”, to more recently the Dalai Lama, who explained, “We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

This weekend, we will celebrate the holiday of Passover. A holiday dependent on community, on others, on sharing our master story. So much so that it has become tradition to invite others, Jews and non-Jews, to the Seder table to retell the journey of the Israelites’ experience from slavery to freedom.

We have lived a year of isolation, of separation, of “social distancing”. We have been apart for so long that social norms are being questioned. The simple handshake that dates back over 2500 years ago, which symbolized the coming together of two people in peace with “weaponless hands”, is a symbol of how we once socialized.

So, whether your Passover is in person or virtual, indoors or out, with just family or with friends, or socially distanced across multiple tables, this week’s Torah portion, Tzav, shares a phrase that is timely and one that we should remember and keep in mind. Leviticus 6:11 mentions the “holy touch”. The contact between the sacred and normative, and how the sacred can elevate the routine to a higher spiritual plane.

Although this specific verse speaks of the literal “touch” that occurs when two things or people come in contact, the message of the verse is equally as compelling if we consider the metaphorical “touch” that we might have with our impact and outreach with whomever we come into contact.

This Passover, we encourage you to reach out and “touch” a neighbor, a friend, a relative, even a stranger (because we “were strangers in the land of Egypt”, Deuteronomy 10:19) and create a holy moment.

We must rebuild our community, and we must come out of COVID with a stronger sense of responsibility to one another. This is the plan for our Jewish Federation because we are…

 

HERE for you.

HERE for our community.

HERE for our Future.

 

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach,

Archive

April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting anti-Semitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe

September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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