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Pesach eve during Coronavirus 2020 -- with 2 artistic videos to enjoy

I send you four sections, on Pesach eve -- (a) News, (b) Rate Figures, (c) Seder, and (d) Creative Videos

A. News -- Although apparently no members of Traditional Congregation or their immediate families have been infected, some extended family members either have contracted COD-19 or family members are in the medical trenches, diverted from their usual medical responsibilities into the front lines where they are especially susceptible. As for us, a cousin's mother may have contracted coronavirus and a UTJ rabbi's ex-wife (in her late 60's) died.

B. Figures

The rate seems to be slowing noticeably --

US: total reported coronavirus cases: 400,539; deaths from coronavirus: 12,857

Israel: 9,404 reported cases, and now 72 reported deaths.

World: 1,447,847 reported cases, and now 83,409 reported deaths.

Infection Rates

The US rate of infected increased dramatically between March 25 and 27 (only two days) and then again from April 3, but although the raw numbers increased by 129,000 between April 3 to 7, in part due to increased testing, the rate over those four days has slowed.

In Israel, the same pattern emerges (albeit with a population 8 million compared to the US [320 million -- about 3%]) -- we see Israel tripling between March 20-25, growing by 1/3 over the two days between March 25 and 27, more than doubling the six days between March 27 and April 3, but less than 2/3 between April 3 and 7.

Death Rates

The US quadrupled between March 20-25, adding about 70% over the two days between March 25 and 27, more than quadrupling in the six days between March 27 and April 3, but less than doubling between April 3 and 7.

In Israel, death rates more than doubled between March 25 and 27, more than tripled during the six days between March 27 and April 3, but a little more than 50% April 3 and 7.

C. Seder --

Rabban Gamaliel used to say: whoever does not make mention of these three things on Pesach does not fulfill his duty. And these are they: the pesach, matzah, and bitter herbs.

The pesah because the Omnipresent passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt.

The matzah because our fathers were redeemed from Egypt.

The bitter herb because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in Egypt.

In every generation a person is obligated to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt, because it is said, “And you shall tell your son on that day, saying: ‘It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).

Therefore it is our duty to thank, praise, laud, glorify, raise up, beautify, bless, extol, and adore Him who made all these miracles for our fathers and ourselves; He brought us forth from slavery into freedom, from sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity, from darkness into great light, and from servitude into redemption. Let us say before him, Hallelujah!

“A Night to Remember” p. 9 -- Haggadah -- Mishael Zion and Noam Zion

The term “Seder Pesach” once meant the order of the Passover sacrifice in the Temple. But after the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE, the Rabbis remodeled the seder after the Greco-Roman symposium (sym -- together, posium -- drinking wine). At these Hellenistic banquets, guests would recline on divans while servants poured them wine, washed their hands and served appetizers and dips before the meal. The guests would then take part in a philosophical debate, after which the meal was served. An ancient how-to manual for conducting such a symposium says:

`A symposium is a communion of serious and mirthful entertainment, discourse and actions. It leads to deeper insight into those points that were debated at table, for the remembrance of those pleasures which arise from meat and drink is short-lived. But the subjects of philosophical queries and discussions remain always fresh after they have been imparted.’ (Plutarch, Quaestions, Greece, 2nd C)

Thus the rabbis prescribed such a banquet for Passover: Much wine (four cups); appetizers (karpas); reclining on pillows; having our hands ceremonially washed by others; a royal feast; and most importantly -- a philosophical discussion on the story of the Exodus and the issues of freedom vs. slavery. The Rabbis wanted Pesach to be an experience of freedom and affluence - thus they chose to borrow the dining habits of their aristocratic contemporaries.

However, there is a fundamental difference: the Greco-Roman feast was for the rich only, it exploited slaves, it restricted asking questions and exchanging opinions to the ruling class, men only. But at the Pesach seder all people, including the spouses and the youngest children, are invited to eat like royalty, to ask questions and to express opinions. Alongside the wine of the rich, there is the bread of poverty. The needy must be invited to share our meal. Stylish banquets may easily turn corrupt, but the seder encourages us to savor our liberty, without exploiting or excluding others.

D. Pesach joy and artistry:

Sent to me by congregants:

Happy Passover! A musical greeting from the Israel Philharmonic

Chag Kasher v-Same'ach -- חג כשר ושמח -- May you have a joyous Pesach.

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