In every bad situation, there is also always something good that comes of it.
The Talmudic character Nachum Ish Gamzu is famous, in Jewish tradition, for seeing the silver lining in everything that happens. In the spirit of the stories about him, and in the spirit of the upcoming Passover holiday, the time of redemption, I would like to offer us some positive, redemptive, ideas to think about:
1. Despite the situation, we all have many blessings and we must count these blessings every day.
2. We are reminded that every day is a gift from God.
3. Staying at home has afforded many of us more time to spend with our families.
4. This period has forced many of us to re-examine the meaning of our lives and whether or not we are living our lives to the fullest.
5. As Passover arrives, and the flowers are beginning to bloom, we realize that we have been granted the blessing of seeing another spring season. We must recite the blessing of thanksgiving for experiencing something that is new or has been renewed – “Blessed Art Thou, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and brought us to this time.”
6. We are now granted the opportunity to strengthen our faith and to show God our dedication to living holy lives through the study of the Bible, prayer, and good deeds, even in the darkest of times.
7. Experts are reporting that we can look forward to vaccines, cures, medications, medical equipment, and the revival of the economy, in the future. We can lift our eyes up to the heavens and behold visions of a bright future, through a positive and faithful outlook.
8. This is an important time to increase and transmit prayer, in all of its great power. While many houses of prayer are not in operation, that does not mean that prayer has ended. When was the last time you talked to God – just one on one – you and the Master of the Universe? This is a great time to do that. You can say and pray for anything that is on your mind. You can pray in any language, through any music, with a prayer-book or in your own words. You can pray for as many people as you wish. This is the time to increase the positive energy in the world. Perhaps we should all start keeping a list of people that we commit to including in our daily prayers.
9. The bitter herbs on the Passover plate represent the bitterness of slavery. The vegetable dipped in salt water reminds us of the tears that the Children of Israel shed in their state of bondage. Yet, the Passover story tells us, the Children of Israel, slaves to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, cried out to God and God heard their cry and saw their affliction. Let us all cry out to God so that God will take note of us and bring miracles upon us, just as God performed miracles, for the Children of Israel, in times of old.
10. The egg on the Passover plate, and the Easter Egg as well, remind us that this is a time of rebirth. Both Passover and Easter are holidays about life from death and light from darkness. We are inspired by these holidays, in spite of our troubled times, to keep this symbolism and these messages going. Don’t give up! It is going to get better.
May those celebrating Passover and those celebrating Easter remember that the essential message of both religions is to spread the love to our fellow human beings. If we can love and care for one another, even while we, ourselves, are in pain and unsure about our futures, then we will truly be worthy of God’s grace.
Rabbi Royi Shaffin is the spiritual leader of the South Baldwin Jewish Center.