I miss my synagogue. I miss the joy, spirit, and singing. I miss kissing the Torah and hearing it read aloud. I miss the warm bonding that happens over the weekly kiddush. I miss having guests at our Friday night Shabbat table and weekly coffee dates out of the house with my wife. I miss going to the mikvah and visiting people in their homes. And I miss my bi-monthly visits to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s ohel, where I stock up on inspiration.
I miss real, live, in-person contact with all of you. I miss giving my sermons and Torah classes. I mean, I love Zoom; we’re so fortunate to have it. But it cannot replace the real thing. For one thing, in person I can see if I’m putting the crowd to sleep and adapt accordingly. But with Zoom, participants can simply mute themselves and turn off their camera and I have absolutely no idea if they’re bored to tears or deeply engaged!
I miss my life and the structure I used to have. (So do my kids!)
I miss my dear Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, our spiritual leader. What would he have advised us in this situation? I think about this a lot.
Of one thing I am certain: the world cannot and will not be the same place it was pre-corona. And I’m not referring to wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
When I go back to shul to daven with a minyan, I am going to appreciate it exponentially more! I will run to be there on time, answer “amen” loudly and with feeling, and infuse every aspect of the davening with gusto and fervor. I can’t wait to shake peoples hands again and wish them a hearty good shabbos!
When we can finally sit together as a community and have kiddush, how much love and respect will we share! Everything will be different. The way we communicate, interact, and show appreciation … all will have new layers of meaning.
There are only 87 commandments that have remained possible to fulfill since the destruction of the Temple around 2000 years ago, and now even some of these we can’t fulfill properly! Why did G-d take this privilege away from us? I can’t speak for Him, but the message I’m taking is to use this time to increase my appreciation for the mitzvot once we are able to do them again.
The Klausenberger Rebbe was once asked, “Which day of the Holocaust was the hardest for you?”
“The day I was liberated,” he replied.
“What do you mean? Your wife, 11 children, and most of your students were murdered. You nearly starved to death. You suffered so much. Surely liberation should have been your best day?”
The Rebbe explained: “Through all the suffering, what kept me going was the certainty that this must be the onset of Moshiach. Knowing, without a doubt, that Moshiach would come and liberate us, and that the world we’d eventually return to would not be the same at all, that is what kept me going. When I saw that it was the Americans, not Moshiach, that was the hardest day yet.”
With G-d’s help, may Moshiach be the one to announce that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and that we are going directly to Israel to begin the era of Redemption. And if G-d forbid it doesn’t end that way, by infusing meaning and excitement into the mitzvot we have been barred from fulfilling properly, we can ensure that the world we return to will not be the same one we left.
Have an inspiring Shabbos
Rabbi Uriel Vigler