Were only the stores empty, dayenu. Were we only brought out of school and work and made to stay home, dayenu. Were we only fearful for our and our loved ones’ health, dayenu…
This moment in history feels like one long night of darkness and unknown. With faith, we isolate and wait until “morning.” Thousands of years ago, our ancestors waited all night in isolation for news that the plague — death of the firstborns — was over. When morning came, they were redeemed. Other periods of isolation in our history have served as preparation for redemption too.
Our haggadah begins with our ancestors worshipping idols and being slaves, and ends with us singing praise to G-d for our redemption. This reflects the Gemara in tractate Pesachim, which instructs us to begin with genut, (shame), and end with shevach, (praise). The Maharal explains that “knowledge of all things is acquired from their opposite;” we can’t properly praise G-d for our redemption or truly know what we’re praising without knowing its opposite.
I have to believe that the world we are living in right now is one huge “opposite.” It is not a test we would choose, but it is here. While there is still so much good to be found, there is suffering, and what we thought we knew has changed. My bracha this Pesach is that the bad in this time acts as a radical opposite for each of us in the months and years to come. May we draw on the strength of our ancestors, may the future be gloriously good to us, and may we be comforted soon with the redemption the haggadah promises us.
Maayan Schoen graduated from Torah Day School and Atlanta Jewish Academy. She studied in the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women in Israel last year and is now a first-year student at Yale University.