Rabbi Ryan Bauer of Congregation Emanu-el in San Francisco sent out this loving message to his congregation. He included a link to a meditation that many of us could use. Take a moment to read his message and if you have 15 minutes, do the meditation with him.
My main childhood memory of Passover was the sheer noise and chaos around my family table, with my father trying his best to lead the service. The laughter, talking, and connection was the primary aspect of those seders. This week as my family squinted at the screen, as people’s audio and video froze on the Zoom call – and everyone seemed to speak over each other – the noise did not come together as a harmony of joyful chaos. The urge for connection and depth was there, but the fiber optics did not seem to be able to transmit the feeling of connection.
Connection has always been a primary focus of Pesach. Chasidic mystics were known to focus on internal connection by using the holiday to go deeper within. Yehudah Aryeh Lieb Alter of Ger, the Hasidic master known as the Sfat Emet, teaches that Pesach is about reaching inside to escape our own Mitzrayim (Egypt), our own narrow space and enable our soul to expand.
With the restrictions inherent in social distancing, this calling may be even stronger now as we face this modern plague. While isolation from friends, colleagues, and loved ones can feel narrow and confining, this moment is also an opportunity to expand within.
When you have a moment alone, I invite you to listen to this 15 minute meditation that can serve as a guide to delve within and move to a place of deeper freedom.
Next year in Jerusalem, with each other.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Ryan Bauer