With the Israeli government announcing the indefinite suspension of schools nationwide, the Middle Eastern country became a paradise for introverts. However, in both Christianity and Judaism, there is a big emphasis on community, and with everyone locked in their own homes it will require a great deal of creativity on our part as the spring holiday season is slowly approaching.
Purim is a very merry and joyous holiday, and is best associated with its carnivals and costumes. Because of the Ministry of Health’s restrictions on congregating of more than 5,000 people (it was since reduced to 100 people, and now down to just 10), all adloyadas were cancelled across the nation. These fun and colorful processions are the highlight of the holiday for many families and children, nevertheless Purim came and went quietly, with no such festivities.
Adloyada is derived from a Talmudic saying that one is to drink on Purim till he “knows not” righteous Mordecai from evil Haman. However, orthodox and masorati (traditional) Jews had a more pressing issue – the reading of the megillah (Hebrew for scroll). One must hear the reading of the Book of Esther twice on Purim, on the eve and morning of. The reading is done in public, usually in synagogues, but because of the coronavirus outbreak, many people found themselves unable to leave their homes, due to quarantine regulations. Especially for these times, rabbis permitted live online streaming of readings of the scroll to those who couldn’t attend.
With Passover just around the corner, and when cleaning and disinfecting our homes might seem appropriate for the season, we should think of creative ways to celebrate our holidays, all the while not compromising our health.
The Passover seder is a family gathering akin to Thanksgiving in the US; if you haven’t seen your aunt all year long, it is very likely you’ll see her on Passover eve. Now, with the number of citizens contracting COVID-19 climbing to 200, and with Israel being on the forefront in regards to restrictions concerning the virus, it is likely that our familial gatherings will be narrowed.
Researchers say that in this digitalized age when we’re constantly connected to the world through Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram we’ve never been so disconnected from each other. We are lonelier than ever. Adding home quarantine furthers our isolation.
We could, however, look at it from a different angle: technology offers us means to safely and more or less comfortably content ourselves as we try to contain the spread of the virus. We can video chat, text, order food and groceries home, call remotely for help. Israel, as a leader in hi-tech, has many creative solutions to offer in the battle against the virus.
This coming season of holidays also gives us, the Messianic community, an opportunity to show the love of Messiah. Not just a family gathering, Passover is a national holiday, and is celebrated on a national scale. It was the nation as a whole that fled Egypt and it was the God of the nation of Israel who broke their yoke of slavery. Believers add another layer to this appointed time of Yeshua as the Passover lamb, which instills in us a spirit of sacrificial love, a spirit of giving during a time where people might be extra lonely, and extra in need of help.
With hardships come opportunities, with limitations come creativity. While there is enough panic and anxiety to go around, we ought to look optimistically at our God-given opportunities and be creative as we celebrate our feats and practice our faith.