fbpx
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Funkadelic, Passover, Shabbat, COVID-19 and Me

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

What does it mean to be a slave? There is a redundancy of time and tasks; each day looks like the previous one and the next day is going to be the same as well. Isn’t the meaning of slavery a question we ask ourselves each Pesach at our Sedars? In order to celebrate the liberation from slavery, an understanding of the meaning of slavery is an essential component of the holiday.

In the pantheon of Jewish rituals, Shabbat has become the ultimate rebellion against slavery.  We acknowledge that in the Kiddush when we bless the wine in memory of both the creation and the Exodus from Egypt.  Instead of being controlled by time, I become its master.  I do not work at my chosen profession and spend the precious 25 hours with the people that I love, in prayer, in study, in contemplation and most importantly, in a community of others who are doing the same thing.

Shabbat consists of a series of rituals designed to make the day look and feel different. It is ended with a prayer that acknowledges its separateness from other days of the week.  Hamavdil bein kodesh lechol is blessing God who makes the distinction between the holy and the secular. And when Shabbat is over, we return to the daily grind.

And that is how my people have been celebrating both time and history for over 3,000 years. However a few months ago, a virus that originated with a bat which became zoonotic (a $64 word for transmission from animals to humans) and suddenly everything prior to that time meant something different.  Prior to March of 2020, whoever heard of social distancing, home quarantining or the myriad of other things we are having to do to avoid both getting and transmitting this deadly virus?

And with quarantining ourselves inside of our homes, each day feels the same as the previous one, a slavery of sorts. Granted this is not the physical slavery of Egypt, but it is not without its consequences, which include a redundancy of time, a similarity of each day to the one before it.

Without that marked difference between Shabbat and the other days of the week, the celebration of Shabbat these past few weeks have seemed listless and out of place. The holiness of Shabbat is acutely choreographed and so much of it is done within the context of community.  But that community has been taken away from each of us for our own safety and well being.  So when the task of making Shabbat holy can no longer be communal; it can only be personal and familial.

Is there still a method in the age of COVID-19 to connect with others as a means of feeling the transcendence of Shabbat? I am a non-Orthodox Jew so I do have the internet and electronic devices with which to connect to others in my community. But I am harping on an illusion and attempting to fool myself into somehow thinking this form of connection is anything other than an inadequate substitution for the real thing.  It may be the best form of Shabbat communal connection that we can have, but nevertheless it is a poor substitution.

Maybe my inability to find the connection that I seek comes down to a failure of my own imagination. George Clinton of Funkadelic may have had it right when he wrote, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.”  But the Rabbis who designed the rituals of Shabbat did so for a reason.  There are limitations to human imagination.  We are finite beings who need the tangible symbols with which to connect.  Otherwise everything is merely abstraction.

The Pesach story is the most visible demonstration of our need for non-abstractions.  We tell an actual story; we eat food symbolic of the story.  It is concrete.  We then personalize the story.  As the Haggadah says, it is incumbent upon us to personalize the Exodus. You must regard yourself as having been personally brought out of Egypt.  We do not live in an era of Jewish physical slavery. So personal liberation must take on a different tone, a spiritual liberation.  The symbols of the Seder are but one means of connecting.  Yes we may be connecting without loved ones present in small gatherings without the usual collection of extended family and friends.  But spiritual liberation is actually a mental state, which requires a freeing of the mind. And now more than ever we need to follow Funkdelic’s admonition that once we do so, everything else will follow!

Stay safe and hag sameach!!!


Doug Workman is a lawyer quarantining in Northridge.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Revelation in Quarantine

Today is my 40th birthday. It is also a week bookmarked by Memorial Day and Shavuot. All of it coming on the heels of...

#AloneTogether We Said Go Travel News May 2020

May News 2020 with We Said Go Travel: This is my third #AloneTogether COVID-19 newsletter. I never imagined...

Corona-Quarantined and Hungry? Travel and Eat Vicariously With Phil Rosenthal

During these times of isolation and not going to restaurants, Phil Rosenthal’s globe-hopping Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil” is a tasty treat for those...

Finding Love in the Shadow of Death

“Can I wear my bat mitzvah party dress to Stanley’s funeral?” my daughter Hannah asked me. “Otherwise, I won’t get a chance to wear...

Israeli Medical Team Comes to Sudan for Lifesaving Mission Despite Lack of Diplomatic Relations

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A small airplane carrying an Israeli medical team along with equipment and medicine for treating the coronavirus landed in Sudan in...

Germany Reports Highest Number of Anti-Semitic Crimes Since 2001

BERLIN (JTA) – Germany has recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic crimes nationwide since 2001. And a new wave linked to coronavirus conspiracy theories...

6 Inexpensive Ways to Upgrade Your Patio

With most of us spending so much more time at home lately, it’s no wonder that the sales of home furniture and accessories has been...

War is Told Through the Eyes of a Woman’s Letters to Her Beloved

The premise of “Love in the Blitz: The Long-Lost Letters of a Brilliant Young Woman to Her Beloved on the Front” (Harper) may strike...

A Prayer for my Father

This is the eulogy that Rabbi Shmuley Boteach delivered today for his father, Yoav Botach, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a...

Man Who Held Anti-Semitic Sign at Ohio Protest Wanted to Target Jews at Kent State, Report Says

A man who held an anti-Semitic sign at an April rally in Columbus, Ohio, reportedly sought to target Jews at Kent State University. The Cleveland...

Culture

Corona-Quarantined and Hungry? Travel and Eat Vicariously With Phil Rosenthal

During these times of isolation and not going to restaurants, Phil Rosenthal’s globe-hopping Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil” is a tasty treat for those...

6 Inexpensive Ways to Upgrade Your Patio

With most of us spending so much more time at home lately, it’s no wonder that the sales of home furniture and accessories has been...

War is Told Through the Eyes of a Woman’s Letters to Her Beloved

The premise of “Love in the Blitz: The Long-Lost Letters of a Brilliant Young Woman to Her Beloved on the Front” (Harper) may strike...


‘Love & Stuff’ Sees Life, Death and Motherhood Through a Jewish Lens

How do you cope with both the death of a parent and the artifacts she left behind, while preparing to become a mother yourself...

Jews of Color Campaign Goes Viral After Article Relegates Them to a Statistic

Numbers have always held significance in Jewish culture, but without purpose, they can be harmful. This was borne out in a May 17 eJewish...

Latest Articles
Latest

Revelation in Quarantine

Today is my 40th birthday. It is also a week bookmarked by Memorial Day and Shavuot. All of it coming on the heels of...

#AloneTogether We Said Go Travel News May 2020

May News 2020 with We Said Go Travel: This is my third #AloneTogether COVID-19 newsletter. I never imagined...

Corona-Quarantined and Hungry? Travel and Eat Vicariously With Phil Rosenthal

During these times of isolation and not going to restaurants, Phil Rosenthal’s globe-hopping Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil” is a tasty treat for those...

Finding Love in the Shadow of Death

“Can I wear my bat mitzvah party dress to Stanley’s funeral?” my daughter Hannah asked me. “Otherwise, I won’t get a chance to wear...

Israeli Medical Team Comes to Sudan for Lifesaving Mission Despite Lack of Diplomatic Relations

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A small airplane carrying an Israeli medical team along with equipment and medicine for treating the coronavirus landed in Sudan in...

Hollywood


‘Love & Stuff’ Sees Life, Death and Motherhood Through a Jewish Lens

How do you cope with both the death of a parent and the artifacts she left behind, while preparing to become a mother yourself...

‘Arrowverse’ Showrunner Greg Berlanti on Whether He’s Jewish or Not

Greg Berlanti is the executive producer of “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “Titans,” “Riverdale” and “The Flash.” Between keeping his die-hard DC fans satisfied, the mega-producer also...

Jewish Grandpa Seeks Out The Family Who Hid Him From Nazis in Documentary “The Starfish”

New York director and producer, Tyler Gildin, through his media company Gildin Media, released a documentary titled The Starfish, exploring the life story of his grandfather,...

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 47: The Value of Storytelling

New David Suissa Podcast Every Morning at 11 a.m. A conversation on the unique power of storytelling with Rutger Bruining in London, founder of Story...

Matti Friedman: Israel’s forgotten war

Shmuel Rosner and Matti Friedman discuss Matti's new book, "Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story of a Forgotten War," Israel's war in Lebanon and why it...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x