During the seder, we read or sing, “Avadim hayinu ata bnei horin. We were slaves but now we are free.” In many ways, instead of thinking of “sheltering in place” as a type of enslavement, I have experienced it as releasing me from the slavery of the everyday. No more days filled with appointments, traffic, calls, texts and more. Now I am free. My days are more relaxed (certainly my wardrobe is). My commute involves a half-dozen stairs. My wife, college-age son and daughter, two Golden Retrievers and long hair cat now get to spend hours of quality time together. We have enjoyed more family dinners in the past few weeks than we have in the past few years.
Personally, this freedom has allowed me to pursue my studies in Mussar Torah commentary and share hours with my chevruta partner and students exploring the meaning of being a soul. The past few years, my family has joined with others on the first night and joined members of Temple Kehillat Chaim on the second night. They were meaningful seders, but it meant rushing around to get ready and checking the GPS to make sure we arrived on time. This year, I am looking forward to a quiet, relaxing seder with just the four of us. “Avadim hayinu ata bnei horin. We were slaves but now we are free.”
Rabbi Harvey J. Winokur is rabbi emeritus of Temple Kehillat Chaim and a trainer/facilitator with The Mussar Institute and Prepare-Enrich.