What is the most important day of the year? Your birthday? New Year’s Day? Yom Kippur? Today is the most important day of the year—it’s the only one we’ve got!
In Judaism, which is a tradition of time rather than space, we observe holidays throughout the year and Shabbat every week. Some of our celebrations last for a day, some for two days and some for a whole week or eight days. Typically, during our eight-day festivities, the first two, and last two, days are the most celebrated.
During Passover, which we celebrated last month, our Israeli friends and relatives observed the first night with the traditional seder. In the Diaspora, we mark Passover with Sederim on each of the first two nights. And, in our local community, the MLJC family had planned, before health warnings altered these plans, to gather on the third night for a seder replete with the traditional foods, rituals and songs of joy, gratitude and celebration.
The third night of Pesach is considered one of the Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days. Are these four nights any less important than the first, or last, two? During the seder, we traditionally ask Four Questions; the first of these is “Why is this night different from all other nights?” At the tables in Sonora on the third night of Passover, 2020, the evening would have been different from all other nights because we would all be together. It would have been different because we would retell the story of our ancestors—our story. It would have been different because with every word and every bite we would affirm our freedom and it would have been different because on that night we would be handing this tradition to our children and grandchildren. Tonight will be different because it will offer its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.
Each day is special for the gifts it holds. When we awaken, the new day offers myriad opportunities to grow, to learn, to teach, to help, to love. Even when not marked in bold on a calendar, is not this day to be held in awe for all of its promise? As we remain in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, today offers us the chance to be our best selves, to rise up and to selflessly give all we have to give so that someone else’s life might be a bit less empty.
This year, the third night of Passover was different and special, as was the fourth, fifth, sixth and beyond. And, perhaps, each of these was a very important day of the year, but not nearly as important as today.
On the second night of Passover, we began counting the Omer, the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. On the evening of May 11th, when we count Day 33 of the Omer, let us all hope and pray that, just as the plague during this time of year in the days of Rabbi Akiva lifted on Lag B’Omer, may the virus plaguing our world today be lifted as well.