Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

I hate the word “Lockdown”

Words during the Ten days of Repentance that we are now commemorating between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are so powerful and create images that become psychologically embedded in our subconscious.

So during this Corona a whole new vocabulary has become of vogue “bidud”, “lockdown” “isolation” – you name it and one conjures up the image of prisons, iron gates, solitary confinement – you get the message.

What happens to the mentality of the average person when you employ such words for the situation we are in? It sends the message that you are consigned to a “harsh sentence” to HAVE  to be confined to quarters with the lock and key inserted in the door for good measure.

What does that do to help attack the virus? How does that spread the idea of shalom bayit when you characterize the home as the last place one would want to be! How does that build self-esteem in your children who often get the brunt end of the adult frustration (I HAD to be in bidud with my child)?

And where is the incentive to actually focus on the one thing which in my opinion G-d wants from his children – UNITY? Thank Hashem we live in a democracy and not a totalitarian society which removes our privileges. So the last image that broke my heart was the necessity for deploying thousands of policemen and soldiers on Rosh Hashanah who should be able to pray on the holiest day of the year in their choice of worship – and instead are sent to impose fines on those recalcitrant law breakers who unfortunately feel they have to escape the “prison” of HOME.

I am aware that I can come across as Pollyanna, but without Unity we will continue to invoke the harsh decrees from above. In  the last book of the Bible that we are reading now Devarim, in the portion Ki Tavo, (Chapter 28 verse 47) the harshest decrees came because “you did not serve the Lord thy G-d with joyfulness and with gladness of heart by reason of the abundance of all things”. Where is the JOYFULNESS these days as we get bombarded with harsher and harsher “lockdowns?”

And no, I am not advocating that we become absolved of personal responsibility for wearing masks and social distancing by any means outside of the home, and the enforcement of strict measures for those who feel they are “above the law”.  However,  as long as the one place that should serve as the sanctuary is characterized as the prison to avoid at all costs, then we are sending the message that it is actually safer to be outdoors among the potential carriers of the virus, than to be staying in a place that should be the most loving and caring place of choice! By taking the lockdown associated words into our vocabulary we are actually setting up the home as places of confrontation, conflict and battlegrounds.

If there is one prayer that I could have granted immediately – it is to wipe out the vocabulary of the Corona and substitute words and actions which foster Love and Shalom and transform the home into a wonderful retreat and place where the family can focus on acts of compassion and harmony, and where we want to stay together instead of seeing how many ways we can defy the “Lockdown.” And in my vision for 5781 the virus is replaced with a vibrant society dedicated to being the Light unto the Nations that we are supposed to be and bring down all the blessings for a year that we have been awaiting.

Wishing you all a gmar chatima tova and a year of shalom bayit in all its wide applications.

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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