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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - April 2020
From the Rabbi - April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
There is a poem online, written in response to the current situation of shutdowns and self-isolation brought about by the COVID 19 virus, that makes a comparison with Shabbat.  It says: 

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world
different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life. (Lynn Unger)

When I first read this I was not sure what to make of it.  It bothered me to compare what we were going through to Shabbat because Shabbat is a joyous time, something we choose, something that comes from a good and divine source. What we are experiencing now is none of those things.  We are being forced to isolate and physically distance because of a pandemic.  

But I realized that the comparison is not in why this is happening but in how we can react, how we choose to face this and what opportunities we find in the midst of the current hardship. We have no control over the sad fact that our regular activity, our usual hustle and bustle, is being closed down but we can take the opportunity to appreciate those simpler joys we often ignore the rest of the time. And when this is over we shall emerge different, hopefully more appreciative of what we have.

Another poem on Facebook made this point well: 
When this is over, may we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger, Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors, A crowded theater
Friday night out, A routine check-up
The school rush each morning, Coffee with friends
The stadium roaring, each deep breath
A boring Tuesday, life itself. (Laura Kelly Fanucci)

None of us chose to be in this situation and none of us want  to be experiencing what we are dealing with now. But, while we are, we have an opportunity not only to be more appreciative of the simple things we have now but to hold on to that feeling into the future after we have come out the other side of this.

At that time we hope we will be more engaged in life as we experience it, having felt what it is to not be able to experience life as we would like today. As this second poem concludes:

When this ends may we find 
that we have become more like the people 
we wanted to be 
we were called to be 
we hoped to be 
and may we stay
that way – better
for each other.

Rabbi Ilan Emanuel



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