Pesach, Covid 19 – Along For The Ride
I wish I could say something magical, something insightful that would summarize all of this in a tidy fashion. But alas, I have nothing to say. I wish I could share some facebook post that would be so profound as to make sense of this all. But I don’t have one. I wish I saw some cute meme that would make everyone feel better. But I haven’t. I wish I could give some Zoom class that makes everyone feel better about this spreading sickness. But I don’t have one of those either.
I am as confused as you. I am as uncertain as you. I don’t know where this is going or where it is taking us. I am just as mystified as to whether this is something truly terrible that will only get way worse or something that we shall look at in a few years time and say, “I can’t believe all the crazy, over-reaction and stupid things we did and were told to do.”
I certainly hope and pray for the latter. That would be the best case scenario. To err on the side of caution and smile about it later.
I got a taste of that this week when one of my children had severe stomach pains. We went to the doctor, he checked her out and was concerned it might be appendicitis. He suggested I take her to the emergency room just in case. Well, needless to say, a hospital is the last place I wanted to be these days. But off we went. A quiet anxiety and nervousness filled the car during the drive. When we got to the hospital it was like walking onto a movie set. Everyone covered head to toe, the triage tent set up outside, nurses speaking to us from behind masks and mini plexiglas coverings. I kept asking them to repeat themselves because their voices were muffled.
Thankfully the doctor there ruled out appendicitis or any other serious ailment. He told us we can go home. I would even make it in time to barbeque dinner. I invited him after he finished his shift at 7 but he declined. Better to err on the side of caution and smile about it later. That is what we all want these days.
I know it’s not fair to compare Covid-19 to other historical tragedies but I personally have trouble not doing that. When you grow up with parents who lived through WWII, that becomes your benchmark for defining difficulty and tragedy. Let’s face it, so far this is nothing compared to the horrors many of our grandparents endured. Compared to that, this is child’s play. Not to diminish the seriousness of it or to belittle those who have become ill and even died. But none of us, none of us, know numerous people and family members who have died. Everyone stuck in Poland after 1939 did. Everyone.
Alas, another difference is that we have no Churchill in our midst. We have no leader whom we can turn to, have confidence in, and that will help lead and guide us. Two generations ago they had leaders, great men with vision and courage. Today we have politicians and media.
So what do we do? Where is this going? Perhaps we can turn to the Pesach story and get an inkling, a smidgen of an insight.
When God first approached Moshe about redeeming the Israelites, He had to twist Moshe’s arm and convince him to take the job. Moshe had many issues and objections and one of them was why the Jewish people would believe that he – a complete unknown to them – could even pull it off. Moshe was reassured and God provided him a couple miracles to show his street cred. With this in hand, Moshe headed to Egypt. But before he approached Pharaoh, he met and spoke to the Jewish leaders and people and performed the miraculous signs he had been given which were met with adulation, joy and anticipation.
However things took a turn for the worse once Moshe went to Pharaoh demanding he let the people go. Pharaoh told him to take a hike – that Moshe is just a trouble-maker, that the people are really lazy and now they would not be provided with straw but still had to fulfill the same quota of bricks. So it turned out that initially Moshe made things much worse for his people who, upon hearing their new harsher situation, were ready to stone him. Moshe was quite perplexed and upset and asked God why he was sent as it only made things worse. God responded, “Now you are going to see what I plan to do to Pharaoh.” In other words, Let’s Play Ball – now and only now.
At issue is why Moshe had to first fail so miserably before God started the Redemption? Why make things get so much worse before they got better? The problem was Moshe’s actually and not God’s. Moshe introduced a factor and element to the Redemption that God never mentioned nor planned – and that was the involvement of the Israelites. Moshe asked what he should tell the Israelites – but who ever told him to even go to the Jewish people to begin with? Not God. God told him to go straight to Pharaoh. Moshe was the one who brought up “when I go to the Israelites…” even though he was never instructed to do this.
You see, Moshe assumed Redemption ought to be some sort of grass-roots freedom movement “of the people and by the people” in addition to “for the people.” But that was his assumption and his assumption alone – not God’s plan. And indeed when the Redemption happens in earnest, the Israelites virtually have no role whatsoever. They are passive bystanders as God strikes Pharaoh and the Egyptians with the 10 Plagues. The Israelites were merely along for the ride.
And isn’t this where we are right now. Yes, we need to do what we can. We need to try to find a cure, keep our social distancing, etc. But the bottom line is that we are as much in the dark as those Israelites holed up in their homes while God was busy redeeming them.
So hold on, hang on. Let God do His thing – this is why He gets paid the big bucks – and just wait. And hopefully we will all look back on this and smile about it later.
I’m comin’ to liberate you
I want to be your man
Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny