Israelis lately seem to be sending out contradictory messages – complaints about the need to be with the kids at home, on the one hand, and emotional videos about coronavirus-inspired weddings on the other.
In other words, even while we continuously grumble about our own family situation, we get excited about every young couple about to start a new family.
This week, a video clip circulated of a wedding in the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem with students dancing at a distance on the balconies of the yeshiva dormitory rooms. I saw this video 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 we have all heard many ideas about the meaning of this virus, but perhaps it has turned our focus most of all on the home. Our homes. Seven plane flights I had planned to take to Jewish communities throughout the United States to give lectures have been canceled. I don’t even go out to the mall or restaurants. I am only at home – all the time at home.
The other day, when the kids’ boredom reached its peak, I tried to invite a friend over to our home, but the parents refused. Coronavirus.
At this point, it’s just about our families and what we’re building within our four walls. It’s a lot more challenging than giving 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 important than anything we do outside is what we build within the four walls of our homes.
The coronavirus has given all of us homework – a word with a double meaning in these unique times.
(translation by Yehoshua Siskin)