If you’d asked anyone in early March 2020, “What do you think of making every human on the planet wear a mask?” they would have been horrified.
And if you’d asked what they thought of staying home for an entire year, they would’ve looked at you like you’d fallen off the moon.
As for not going to shul all year, including Passover and the High Holidays, it was unimaginable.
Yet here we are, a full year into the pandemic, and all of this has become the new normal. We’re used to it. And that is the real danger.
When my child gets an email from his teacher that on Friday there will be no in-person school but they’ll be meeting on Zoom instead, he doesn’t think anything of it. He’s so used to Zoom school, it doesn’t seem crazy anymore.
When we’re told that we might be masking and social distancing until sometime in 2022, we hardly flinch.
When the CDC recommends wearing two masks instead of one, we hardly bat an eyelash.
When leaving the house with a mask becomes as normal as leaving the house with pants on, we take it in stride.
And this is the real danger—complacency.
When we get used to the new norm, when we’re no longer shocked and horrified, when we stop recognizing how abnormal the current situation is and stop praying to Hashem (our best defense) to end the madness, we are in danger.
We have totally forgotten what normal is. Normal is when no human is sick or dying. Normal is global peace, food security, abundance, unity, respect, and love.
But we’ve become so accustomed to our current state of exile that we no longer demand with our full heart and soul that it ends.
I’ve listened to the Lubavitcher Rebbe speaking about this dozens of times, his voice choked with pain and emotion. The Rebbe explains that the darkest and most dangerous part of exile is when we stop searching. As long as a child knows his father is hiding, there is hope. But the moment he stops searching and becomes accustomed to the new norm, danger sets in. Listen to the Rebbe’s inspirational words here:
Around this time last year, I was convinced Moshiach’s arrival was imminent. I remember telling my kids on Pesach, “That’s it. We’re out of here!” And I was not alone.
But it hasn’t happened, and we dare not risk giving in to complacency. Moshiach? He is arriving today!
As we approach the month of Nissan and the miracles of Pesach—of which we are told, “In Nissan our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt, and in Nissan we will be redeemed from our exile”—we need to stay focused. Our prayers should not be solely focused on ending the one-year pandemic, but on ending the 2000-year exile!
Rabbi Uriel Vigler