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TI’ers:

Here is some important information regarding Pesach in this year of plague, 5780.

Preparation for the Holiday

  • Given the pandemic, this might be a time to go easy on yourself. Remember that rejoicing at Pesach is every bit as important as cleaning for Pesach. In a normal year, the cleaning can be an ingredient in the release and the joy that we experience on the hag itself. But this year, with all the stress we already feel, you may want to consider backing off a bit on the cleaning.
  • Here is an article from the Rabbinical Assembly specifically about leniencies you might take this year, with regards to cleaning, and also purchasing: https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/kashrut-subcommittee-recommendations-passover-5780-light-covid-19
  • If you have questions about your particular situation – please give me a call!

The Seder Itself

  • This year, almost all of us will have small sedarim. At our house, it will likely only be my wife Rachel and myself in attendance.
  • But in light of the pain (and the crucial importance) of social distancing, I agree with those (some even in the Orthodox world) who have encouraged us to virtually include isolated folks through Zoom, Facetime, and the like.
  • In particular, Rachel and I invite you to attend our first-night seder by Zoom at: https://tiferethdc.shulcloud.com/event/passover-seder-/-rabbi-seidel-zoom---tentative-time.html (Login required). You can submit questions that you’d like me to address at the seder in advance at: eseidel@tifereth-israel.org.

Streaming Services in General

  • In general, I have not been in favor of streaming services on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for several reasons:
  1. Nowadays, when we live so much of our lives through screens, there should be a day when we only interact face-to-face. Rare exceptions aside, this seems to me of paramount importance.
  2. Shabbat is also about self-denial: there are things we’d like to do, that we cannot do, and this fact adds to the power of the day, the importance of our resting.
  • So, though I have made exceptions for unusual events (a b-mitzvah that children have worked a year to prepare; a seder that comes just once a year, and as such is an important highlight in the year for many, especially in this moment of isolation), I am not prepared to be lenient every Shabbat.
  • I think that what we do now: streaming Kabbalat Shabbat (which takes place before Shabbat begins) and streaming Havdalah (right after Shabbat), as well as some daily services, is working well.
  • However, I respect those who believe that streaming on Shabbat is ok. Therefore, a group of TI’ers are organizing a weekly Shabbat service (without my involvement).

I wish you all a good Pesach. May our collective memory of God’s support in difficult times allow us to feel God’s presence now, during this holiday, however unsettled and isolated we may feel.

Hag Same’ach,
Rabbi Seidel

Wed, May 27 2020 4 Sivan 5780