What is your favorite part of our new “quarantine” life?
I asked my children that question last week, as we were celebrating together the last day of the Passover holiday. One child said that his favorite part is the “family time we spend together.” The other said it was “the free time,” that enabled him to “work on all of his hobbies.”
After hearing their beautiful and most positive replies, my turn came. “My favorite part of this quarantine,” I told my children, is ” seeing your eyes.”
My answer referred to their unique eyes and perspective on life. After all, they could have focused on the many negative sides of our coronavirus era. But they chose to look at the light within the darkness, and the blessings within the curses, and speak of their favorite parts of this “new normal” with a sparkle in their eye, exuberance in their voice, and hope in their hearts.
In this past Shabbat’s portion, we are introduced to a list of “non-kosher birds.” This list includes a unique bird by the name of “ra’ah.” The Talmud states that the eyesight of this bird is so acute that “it can stand on the mountaintops of Babylon and see corpses in Israel.” Yet, in spite of its uncanny sense of sight, this bird is not-kosher. The reason is telling, and it shares one of life’s great secrets:
When the kite glances at the magnificent land of Israel, all it can see are corpses. Instead of focusing on Israel’s supreme beauty and its overflowing blessings, this bird directs its sight on Israel’s dead bodies. It may have a 20/20 eyesight, but it has a 20/400 vision on life. Thus, it is rendered a non-kosher bird.
The lesson is clear: like that bird, we too can focus on the death and destruction that COVID-19 has brought upon us. Our eyes can lock onto all that was taken from us and is no more. Or, like children, we can opt to concentrate on all of the blessings we do have, and all of the “favorite parts” of this “quarantine life.”
Indeed, within every destruction there is a promise of construction; within every bitter challenge there lies a possibility waiting to be born; within every sight of darkness, there is a vision of light. All that is left for us to do, is to open our eyes like children, and unleash the blessings and opportunities within.