A Bissel Torah – 03/31/2020

During the Great Revolt that ended with the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70CE, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkay wanted to promote peace, both among Jews and between Jews and Romans. He realized that his fellow Jews were not interested in peace, and were fighting bitterly among themselves. He devised a plan to leave Jerusalem, and negotiated with the Roman general Vespasian to continue rabbinic culture and existence in the city of Yavneh.

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkay realized there was an issue to be solved, and he found a way to maintain Judaism for the future, responding to the catastrophe of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70CE, and to the predicament of having to do things differently, with a different kind of worship, independent of the sacrificial cult and Temple-centered observances. Judaism had to change, and Jews had to respond to the challenges with reverence for the tradition and openness to the possibilities offered by their experience.

As we prepare for Pessah this year, we too have to respond to these challenging times, with openness to the possibilities and with reverence for our tradition. Our observances will have to be different. Our mechirat hametz, the selling of our hametz, will be done by email/zoom. The biyur hametz, the elimination of hametz, the ceremony for getting rid of hametz in our homes, can continue in our individual homes, yet the burning of the hametz (that I used to do by collecting everything people brought to the Synagogue and burning it in my home) will have to be done in every individual’s place. The Siyum Bekhorot, the finishing of a unit of study so firstborns don’t have to fast on the day before Pessah, will be done virtually. We will not be able to be present at seders in people’s homes.  Here is the schedule of what we are offering at Etz Hayim to help you celebrate the holiday:

1. Mechirat Hametz: Given that we are not supposed to leave our homes, please send me the form through email. Even if you already sent the form through the mail, just send me an email so I can do the selling of the hametz. I will accept your emails until Monday evening, April 6, 2020.

2. Biyur Hametz: This year, in an effort to help people spiritually navigate this challenging time, I will be offering a healing service on Tuesday, April 7, at 8:00pm. We will rid ourselves of our spiritual hametz together, with chants and readings, willing for healing for our whole world during this pandemic.

Time: Apr 7, 2020 08:00 PM
Here is the zoom link:
Meeting ID: 631 250 409
Password: 002197

3. Siyum Bekhorot: We will have a minyan at 8:00am, followed by the Siyum Bekhorot.

Time: Apr 8, 2020 08:00 AM
Here is the zoom link:
Meeting ID: 292 093 109
Password: 026291

4. Seder: If you are hosting a virtual seder and would be able to accommodate other people, please let me know (rabbi@etzhayim.net). If you want to attend a virtual seder, please do the same!

Hag kasher v’sameah,
Bivrachot shalom uvryiut,

Rabbi Lia Bass