I’m not into prognosticating (I’ve tried, to poor results) so I don’t feel confident making predictions about how our Jewish world will be different when we emerge from our figurative holes, hopefully soon.
But I have, if not prophecies, then hopes. And they are predicated on what our collective confinement should, at least to my lights, have taught us.
For those of us whose lives revolve around daily attendance of shul, praying there with others and interacting with them, the most jarring change from the B.C. era (Before Corona) has been the loss of that anchor.
What I hope is that when we return to our shuls, we treat them with the full respect due them, as places of prayer and study, and that we cherish with newfound fervor our prayer-bond with our fellow congregants.
Another great loss of recent weeks has been the inability of our children or grandchildren to attend their schools. What I hope will result from their return to their classrooms will be a new appreciation of their teachers, the extent of whose dedication and creativity has been a revelation to many of us during the crisis. And I hope as well for a concomitant determination to compensate them in accord with their efforts.
As a public service during this pandemic, the Forward is providing free, unlimited access to all coronavirus articles. If you’d like to support our independent Jewish journalism, click here.
My final hope is born not of where we have been exiled from, but rather of where we have been confined to: our homes. In an essay, the late Agudath Israel leader Rabbi Moshe Sherer cited a thought from Rabbi Aaron Lewin (1879–1941), an Agudath Israel movement leader who served as a member of the Polish parliament. He quoted a verse in Isaiah (56:7), in which God declares that “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” Reading the word “for” as “to,” Rabbi Lewin remarked that a Jewish home is one that is to be seen by others as a house of prayer, a place permeated with Jewish ideals and practices, a place, in a sense, of worship.
So I hope that all of us might reflect on our “home confinement” as a spur to self-improvement in that realm, to contemplate how we might make our homes not just places to, well, go home to, but truly holy spaces.
Avi Shafran blogs at rabbiavishafran.com and serves as pubic affairs director of Agudath Israel of America.
We will cherish our shuls - and the homes that replaced them during this time