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Friday, 4 September, 2020 - 4:52 am

 Before last Pesach I was very troubled by the fact that we wouldn’t be able to make a Pesach Seder for our community like we do every year. The Pesach Seder is a special evening. My family and I devote much thought every year to making sure that whoever sits with us at the Seder will feel comfortable, benefit from everything that a Leil Seder can give, and yes, that the special Pesach food will taste good! I always knew, more or less, who was coming, and when they would come (Friends, I even know who comes late and how late). I know who likes to sit next to whom. I know our beloved community, and here we are, with no Pesach Seder in the Chabad House. What will be? How will people celebrate the holiday by themselves? I was worried.

But it seems that reality triumphs and most people simply “celebrated independence” and ran their own Pesach Seder. People joined a Zoom of a model Seder, learned through YouTube or the Internet site of Chabad how and what, and made a kosher, pleasant and happy Seder. I’m sure the food tasted good, too.

I was embarrassed that apparently I didn’t have enough confidence in people that they will know to run their Jewish life by themselves, but the Corona proved differently. The Corona forced all of us to take upon ourselves the responsibility, and I learned to give the members of the community more credit.

Now that Rosh Hashana is approaching, I am much calmer. The meal of Rosh Hashana night is the meal that is most attended in the Chabad House in Basel – every chair is taken. I know how important this evening is to all of us, but this year we will not be able to have that joint meal in order not to endanger anybody. The prayers will be arranged so that people will sit in keeping with the Corona regulations, but the meal – not.

At the end of this week’s parasha, the parasha of Ki Tavo, Moshe Rabbeinu grants the entire nation independence. Moshe describes concisely how until now Hashem did everything for them: took them out of Egypt and fought their wars for them, and he even goes into detail about how Hashem took care of them in the desert, clothes and shoes included: “I walked you for forty years in the desert, your garments didn’t wear out, and your shoes did not wear out”. And, finally, like a mother sending a child away from home, he asks the People to be responsible and take care of themselves: “You shall observe the words of this covenant, so that you will succeed in all that you do.”

It seems that Hashem is asking something similar to this during these Corona times: Use all the knowledge and experience you’ve gained over the years, and do it yourselves.

In any case, it is much easier to purchase honey, an apple, a pomegranate, a date and even a fish-head than to kasher the house for Pesach. So if we managed on Seder night, I am sure that we will manage on Rosh Hashana as well.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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