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Liberation Under Lockdown: A Unique Passover Experience

Isn’t it ironic that the festival of freedom is being celebrated whilst we are all under lockdown!? A moment in time when for thousands of years Jews have come together with friends and family to experience liberation. This year we are being compelled to observe Passover alone!

Surly there is divine purpose interwoven throughout these extraordinary times. As Albert Einstein was fond of saying “Coincidence is G-d’s way of remaining anonymous”.

The celebrated Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, summed up his life experience with the following words: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.

With liberal values and material affluence we can sometimes delude ourselves into believing we are free when in reality the exact opposite is true. You see most of us live our lives prioritising short term material gain and physical pleasure. Consequently, we become more dependent and ultimately enslaved to those mediums which provide for us the instant gratification we so desperately seek.

What we have failed to realise is that whilst it is true that “Man is by nature a social animal”, we have also been created “in the image of G-d”.

The world we inhabit has become over sensitised to its material well-being at the expense of appreciating and even acknowledging the fundamental importance of its spiritual health. This way of life is neither healthy nor sustainable. For just as our body depends on a diet of good nutrition to remain healthy and vibrant, so too does our soul.

During these challenging times, when we are stripped of our material trappings and distractions, when even socialising with others is more restrained, it is only then that the journey towards freedom can begin in earnest.

As the Jewish people experienced the exodus from Egypt 3332 years ago, they were also under lockdown. As the verse states, Moses told the Jewish people that on the night before they would leave Egypt, “None of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning”. (Exodus 12:22)

As millions of Jews celebrate this Passover during these extraordinary times, let us “remember the day of your (our) departure from Egypt”. Let us - under the current conditions - try our best to experience the enslavement our ancestors endured in Egypt and other parts of the world. Because only when we begin to lose visibility and control over our material lives and wellbeing, can we begin to discover true freedom.

Next year in Jerusalem!

May G-d have mercy upon all us and bring healing to the entire world.

Wishing you and your loved ones a healthy, joyous and meaningful Pesach.

Yosef Vogel


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