At home

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It’s as if Israelis have lately been sending out two contradictory messages: complaints about the need to be with the kids at home on the one hand, and emotional videos about corona inspired weddings on the other. In other words, even while we continuously grumble and whine about our own family situation, we get excited about every young couple that’s about to start a family of its own. Yesterday a video clip appeared of a wedding in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem. The students danced at a distance from the married couple on the balconies of the yeshiva dormitory rooms. I saw this video appear in WhatsApp groups in our neighborhood here in New York. Within moments, the simple joy of a young couple setting up their home in Jerusalem brought tears to American Jews.

I know that we have all heard many ideas about the meaning of this virus but now, perhaps it has focused our attention most of all on the home. Our homes. Seven plane flights I planned to take to Jewish communities throughout the United States to give lectures have been canceled. We don’t even go out to the mall or to a restaurant. We are only at home, all the time at home. Yesterday, when the boredom of the kids reached its peak, I tried to invited a friend over to our home but the parents refused. Corona. It’s just about our families at this point, and about what we are building within our four walls. It’s a lot more challenging than seven lectures. There is an expression of our sages according to which “the walls of our home witness who we are”. In other words, more than anything that we do outside, what we build within the four walls of our homes is most important. Corona has given all of us homework, a word with a double meaning in these unique times.

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