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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
Leil HaSeder Alone in The Shadow of Corona
The Chasidim were stunned when the Holy Defender of the Jews, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev announced just a few moments before starting Kiddush on Lel Ha'Seder that he would not begin the Seder until they gather together fifty Persian scarves, 10 pounds of Turkish tobacco, and one loaf of bread.

"But Rebbe they cried where are we supposed to get these items? The scarves and tobacco are all contraband and no one has any. Besides that you know it is Pesach. Where can we find a loaf of bread in Berditchev". The Rebbe said "as you wish but I will not start the Seder".

After going from house to house throughout the Jewish community explaining their strange request, the Chasidim met with little success. After two hours of searching they came up with only 5 scarves and no tobacco or Chametz. They laid their findings out before the Rebbe and pleaded with him to start the Seder but he insisted they meet the full quota without excuses.

This time the Chasidim were even more vigorous and pleaded with the members of the community to please be forthright for the sake of the Rebbe and the entire Kehilla, and hand over any of these items in their possession.

After a short while they returned to the Rebbe hoping that this time he would agree to start the Seder with what they found. They emptied out one bag with over 100 scarves and another bag with four times the quota of tobacco. "Very nice" said the Rebbe "but where is the Chametz". With tears in their eyes the Chasidim pleaded with the Rebbe "please Rebbe this is ridiculous where should we find Chametz in Berditchev"???

The Rebbe then lifted his eyes to the Heavens and said "Dear Father in Heaven. The Russian have made owning a Persian scarf punishable with 25 years of hard labor. They have policeman deployed throughout the city but nevertheless the Jews of Berditchev own at least 100 scarves. Furthermore there is a death penalty for anyone caught with Turkish Tobacco and the borders of Russia are guarded by hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Nevertheless there is plenty of Turkish tobacco to be found in Berditchev".

"You have Hashem have no visible army or police force, nor is there any physical signs of your heavenly court and your command of not possessing any Chametz was declared over 3000 years ago, yet there is not one speck of Chametz to be found in the entire city". "Mi K'Amcha Yisroel" he shouted as he began his Seder.

This year we start our seder in the eye of the deadly plague engulfing everyone in its path. By now everyone has taken refuge within the four walls of their home's hoping and praying to stay safe. We turn to Hashem and say indeed we have made many mistakes both spiritually and physically, and have brought this disaster upon ourselves. But please Hashem have mercy on your loving children.
We were told to stay home and not mix with crowds. We were threatened with fines and warned of the impending doom if we defy these orders. Yet we believed in "Netzach Yisroel Lo Yishaker" and hundreds chose to keep Klal Yisroel alive by marrying and building new Yiddishe homes while the Malach HaNaves ran amok. These young men and women sacrificed their dream weddings for the sake of continuity of your nation and settled for simple ceremonies with few in attendance. On the other hand next week the Sefira period will begin and you've declared that there should be no weddings. Not a single wedding will take place, not in the open and not in secrecy.

We were told not to go daven because it could spread the disease, and although misguidedly so, we nevertheless went to Shul because we couldn't fathom that you really didn't want us there. We were sure it was a test of our utter loyalty, and didn't realize it was a sign of rejection. We jumped at what we thought was an opportunity for our generation to give our lives for Tefila like so many stories we heard as children from days long gone. And we had no doubt that you would protect us. We were wrong. Oh how very wrong!

These were mistakes borne out of love and devotion for you, Hashem. Going to Shul erroneously was not to satisfy our physical pleasures. Who would have dreamed? We marched to Shul with the same burning determination that has kept our faith alive for two thousand years through this dark Galus.
Just like the pleas of holy Rebbe of Berditchev please look down at your faithful children and have mercy. Accept all our korbanos. Look deep in our hearts and see our mesiras nefesh and not our mistakes. Please watch over us and don't let the Malach HaMaves into our homes. On this night of Leil Shimurim please strengthen the healthy, heal the sick and console the broken hearted.

Tonight we all sit in quiet and loneliness. The older generation will miss the Sedarim of past years, surrounded by many generations of cacophony and nachas. They won't enjoy the clapping and cheering as the littlest ones perform the Ma Nishtana. They will proceed to eat the Afikoman without the tough negotiations with the school age "wiseguys." The younger generation will miss the regal presence of their grandparents at the head of their table. We will miss the give and take between grandfathers and grandchildren, and their mastery of life, as they expertly impart their experience and wisdom to the future generation through the prism of the Haggadah.

Just like our first Pesach long ago when the commandment, "No man may leave the front door of his house" was immediately followed by incredible turn of fortune and an unprecedented Geula, so too this year as we sit behind locked doors, we beseech you to please shine the rays of a new dawn and bring the final Geula, where all the hardships of our long and bitter galus will give way to days of unprecedented light.


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