Baltimore, MD - Mar. 27, 2020 - Unless we are worthy of Moshiach before this coming Pesach, it looks like most of us will be spending our Yom Tov with those currently residing in our own household. With the combined authority of Das Torah, government and physicians, the ban on “mishing” this Pesach has the force of “Lo Saamod al Dam Rayecha,” “you shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” Indeed, this is one of those instances where the deed coincides directly with the simple meaning of the verse. Merely “standing by” and breathing droplets of infected air can, Heaven forfend, make an unwitting carrier into the Angel of Death. Both Civil Authorities and Religious Leadership are enjoining us to stay away from others and maintain our “Daled Amos,” a range of 6 to 8 feet. Who knew that Chazal had established the shiur for “social distancing?” Our authorities have already warned against “out of town” visits and guests, but even if those you are inviting or visiting for Pesach, are not “in house,” you should rethink your plan, both for your sake and theirs. No matter that you or your family members or guests are “feeling fine,” or that there are presently no symptoms. We now know that cases may be sub-acute for at least two weeks of incubation.
Yes, Yom Tov is closing in and maybe, you still think that you ought to fulfill or accept the invitation? I ask you, is the table big enough for everyone to sit six feet apart?
Even if it is, think about every hand touching the washing cup, the doorknob, the food, the serving platter and the handle on the bathroom door. Think about the guest or family member who coughs or sneezes at the table. Bad enough when someone doesn’t shield under normal circumstances, but imagine spending an entire meal wondering if they have given you the Kovod of their Covid? Do you think you or your hosts can clean well enough before or after the visit to make sure that there are no remnants of virus for transmission. And you think cleaning for Chametz is difficult? Now, think about how you or your guests will feel upon the news that someone has, G-d forbid, been put on a respirator, been permanently disabled or died as a result of the rippling circles of transmission that your well-meaning invitation has enabled.
If you have made the invitation, now is the time to talk to your guests while they still have the ability to make other arrangements. Our current plan is to deliver or leave food for pick up for those we had invited, making sure the goods are safely prepared and packaged. If that is not possible, contact Ahavas Yisrael to make sure they have what they need. Yes, we will miss the joy their presence adds to our table, but far better to miss one Yom Tov, then to, G-d forbid, be forced to observe "social distancing" for a levaya because we failed to understand the consequences of misguided kindness.