“Mah nishtana halaila hazeh mikol halaylot?” “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
A Reading for Your Seder Table and for Those Who Will Join You from Near and Far
For years we have joined, as a family, with Jews around the world in asking that question on this seder night. Reclining, dipping, eating, … Every year the words and tune of the Four Questions resonate deeply and joyously. We know why this night is different.
But this year, as we ask those time-honored questions, we will add a deeply troubling response, one we pray we will never offer again: “Why is this night different? Because never before has a worldwide pandemic forced us to remain physically distant from each other.”
Tonight, the modern plague of coronavirus forces us to be apart. We pray that we will never utter such words again. We pray that we shall never again experience what we are now going through.
On this seder night, Holy One, heal our pain that comes with our physical separation from each other. We are thankful to have this moment together, to see and/or hear each other and to know that we will celebrate Passover in good health, God-willing.
As we begin our seder we pray for the safety and well-being of all humanity, created in Your image, in this besieged world. We pray for healing on behalf of those who are suffering from the effects of the virus. We pray that You will protect the brave, courageous and devoted women and men who are seeking to bring healing to them. Tonight, our hearts are with the loved ones of those who have perished during this plague. Be with them, Lord, console them in their time of need.
Now we begin this Feast of Freedom, constrained in ways we have never previously experienced, but still free, … free to reach out to loved ones, free to express concern for those who are especially in need of our care, free to act in the healing ways You have shown us.
Please God, May all of us remain healthy and well. Tonight, we are in our own Egypt, a narrow place of suffering, concern and physical separation. Next year may we be fortunate to gather again and to feel each other’s touch. May we return, as in years past, to this table, a place that represents our Jerusalem, in a state of good health, well-being and love. Amen.
Rabbi Neil Sandler serves as a rabbi at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead.