Word of the Month: Zoom or shul? I know my choice for Purim

D’var Torah
Rabbi Avrohom Litvin

Rabbi Avrohom Litvin

I just heard of a young couple that has lived apart during the COVID pandemic.
He lived in New York, she in Canada. The borders were closed, so they couldn’t be with each other physically. Thank G-d for Zoom!
They spoke every night and got to “see” each other over the Zoom platform. They felt lucky to have Zoom to keep that relationship alive. They called the company their “relationship life raft.”
But a problem has arisen.
Now that the peak of the Omicron variant seems to be passing, and countries are opening borders and adjusting restrictions to reflect this new reality, the husband in New York no longer wants to visit his bride in Canada. He says that Zoom has enabled him to maintain this relationship in a much more convenient way. He says he loves her and wants to stay with her, but only in a more modern “Zoom” relationship.
What do you think of that?
She says no. If he is serious about her, he must see her again – in person. She wants him to come home and commit to a “real” relationship, just as they had before COVID.
She compares his behavior to a grandparent who wouldn’t have the grandchildren visit during COVID, instead speaking, laughing and staying in touch through Zoom. Now, the grandparent says a Zoom relationship with his grandkids is much better because they don’t dirty the house and he doesn’t have to clean up after they leave.
We are in the month of Adar, the happiest month of the year. Halachah, the code of Jewish law, states: “When Adar begins, we should increase in joy.” Since the lunar Jewish year is shorter than the secular solar year, an additional month of Adar is added every two or three years to align the two calendars, ensuring, for example, that Passover always remains in the spring. This is one of those years, so we add a second month of Adar, a double portion of joy.
This is the first leap year since the start of COVID in 2019. Instead of 30 days of joy, we now have 60.
The happiest day of this season is Purim, which begins on the evening of March 16.
How should we celebrate?
For each of us, this is a personal decision that should be made with much thought and deliberation Do we come back to synagogue and reconnect to G-d in the sanctuary (G-d’s home)? Or do we follow the example of the husband in the story and maintain a “modern” relationship through Zoom and the like, instead of fully connecting as deeply as possible.
I respect everyone’s right to make their own decision. However, like many people who have spoken to me, I crave that special personal connection with G-d. If things keep progressing as they are, I will attend an in-person synagogue service on Purim – with proper precautions. I hope you join me. I will pray for the Moshiach and the era of health, happiness and true connection to G-d. Amen.

(Rabbi Avrohom Litvin is the regional director of Chabad of Kentucky.)

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