|“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13)
-by David Parsons
ICEJ Vice President and Senior Spokesman
It has been surreal to experience the current lockdown in Israel due to the Coronavirus while the Passover feast approaches. As each family sits here confined to our homes to slow the spread of this modern-day plague, it is hard to escape the parallel with that fateful night long ago when the ancient Israelites huddled in their homes, with lamb’s blood sprinkled on the doorposts, nervously hoping and waiting for the death angel to pass over them.
For the Jewish people, Passover is the seminal event in their national history and a time of great celebration. Throughout their long exile, Pessach also had become a season of caution and even dread for Jews facing blood libels and pogroms around this time of year. But ever since Israel was reborn as a nation, the Jewish people have been free and safe to carry out all their traditions associated with this biblical festival. It is a time for thorough house cleaning, burning chametz (leaven), song-filled seder meals, matza and wine, and joyous family gatherings.
But not this year! Israel is going through the most difficult Passover season since its modern rebirth in 1948. No one is allowed to leave their homes. Extended families cannot come together. Many time-honored Passover traditions will have to be scrapped. Instead of counting the omer, many will be counting the victims of Corona.
These grim circumstances also make it easier to imagine oneself shuttered inside the home of an Israelite family back in Egypt some 3,500 years ago, anxiously awaiting the morning light. Will this present plague of death also pass us by? When will we see the light of day? And what message is God trying to tell us through this pandemic?