The Torah tells us that during the plague of the firstborn the Israelites were ordered to quarantine themselves at home (Exodus 12:22) Rav Yosef asked, “If the plague was not decreed on the Jewish people, why did they have to isolate themselves at home?” The Talmud answers, “Once a plague is unleashed upon a community, it does not distinguish between the righteous and the unrighteous.” (BK 60a)

The recitation of the plagues at this year’s Seder is an opportunity to consider what we might learn from a pandemic. Usually, we build community and support one another by drawing closer together, this year we learn how to show solidarity and regard for the welfare of others by drawing apart. Lately, partisan and tribal identities encouraged us to think in terms of “us and them,” a pandemic reminds us that we are all in this together. 

 

Have a liberating Pesach,

 

 Rabbi Mitchell Levine