Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

The Vigil of the Watching 2020

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.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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