Nothing is the same. The seders won’t be the same. Shopping for Passover is not the same. Some aspects of cleaning and preparing for Passover are not the same. Certainly the uncertainty of the times dampens the joy of anticipating certain joyous elements of Passover, however differently we might each experience them. All this notwithstanding, Passover is Passover.
The bread will be gone. The great narrative of the Exodus will be with us. Repeated by one person alone who is used to being part of a large assemblage, or by one person alone who is used to inviting a large assemblage, it is the same narrative. The same Exodus. The same reexperience of the formation of the Jewish people. The same Divine incursion into human history. The same dramatic events. The same unique touch.
Long ago Jewish law foresaw a circumstance in which a person might be alone for the seder. In that case, who asks the Four Questions? The person himself or herself asks. They are the same Four Questions. They demand the same thoughtful response, no matter how many people ask and no matter the age of the person or people who ask. Passover is Passover.
On Passover it is mandated to recite the “Shehechiyanu,” thanking G-d for “keeping us alive, and sustaining us, and bringing us to this day.” G-d willing, the whole group of us will be alive to welcome Passover this year — and if so we shall indeed recite this blessing just as we did last year, except that now we shall recite it with a fuller and more grateful heart than last year. In the presence of however many or however few people we recite this blessing, Passover is Passover, in its holiness, excitement and allure for the Jewish soul.
This Passover will hardly be the first Passover that Jews have celebrated under a cloud. We know how to do this. It is in our historical and spiritual DNA. It may be a first for many of us to celebrate Passover under a cloud, but we are doing it. Look around. People are preparing for Passover with focus, with the arresting Passover lens. We are making it happen.
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