The Eve of Pesach has a special name, the Vigil of the Watching — לֵיל שִׁמֻּרִים הוּא לַיהוָה, Exodus 12:42. That’s not referring to us observing all during the Seder Pesach. Rather, this expresses that at this night, G^d is extra watching over us. It’s the safest night of the year forever. That’s when He killed the firstborn kids in Egypt of our enemy and not ours. In 2020, we celebrate our Exodus on the same day as then, a Thursday. But also in 2020, in Israel, we’re under total lock-down. I’m sure, women are allowed to give birth in a hospital still (at home, in most cases, it would be safer and easier). But besides urgent medical visits, no one will be allowed out except police and soldiers — and I salute them.
G^d Himself killed these Egyptian firstborns. But the blood we put on the doorposts was to ward off the Angel of Death. So that was not against the Plague going on outside. The Angel of Death always was making its rounds to finish off people whose end of life had come. Death not from the Decree against the first-born but from accidents, illness or old age. That the blood on the doorposts stopped. (So, maybe the firstborns of the Erev Rav, the Mixed Multitudes, were saved but their elderly not.)
Two Egyptian firstborns were spared, for very different reasons. Pharaoh escaped alive, so he could witness the disaster he had created and finally tell us to go. But his firstborn son didn’t survive. And Bithia, his firstborn daughter survived because she was a total saint. And also her stepchild lived to tell the Story, the one she had drawn from the water, Moses.
G^d knew where the Jews were and needed no special signs. And also the Angel of Death knew. The doorpost blood was a sign for neither of them. It was put on the inside of the doorposts! This, to tell us: you are guarded, you are safe. And we are supposed to feel at the Seder. That G^d has His Eyes on us. That we are safe. That we are looked after.
Unfortunately, the plague now going around outside doesn’t give that safety. It’s a strange year. We didn’t make the blessing over blooming fruit trees, did not say Kiddush Levanah, sold our chameitz over the Internet, had no kids to search for chameitz, and sat alone at the Seder.
May, in the merit of our unity and enthusiasm for Pesach, many of the infected get away with only light symptoms, may we not infect anyone else anymore, may the seriously sick be fully healed and not at the expense of others who need a doctor, may the lives of ‘hopeless cases’ be saved anyway, may the bereaved be healed from Heaven, and may a financial collapse be staved off and we all return to stability and safety.
May we have learned permanent lessons of being grateful for what we have and of working incessantly for a better world and for a decade, skip addictions, entertainment, and time-killing, to fight wasting and spoiling, oppression and exploitation, and to save lives, justice, and the planet.