The Bible Says What? ‘Pesach can be postponed’

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The Bible Says What? ‘Pesach can be postponed’

 Rabbi Miriam Berger takes a topical issue and offers a Reform perspective


When the roadmap out of Covid restrictions was presented to the British public, we Jews had our eye on seder night. 

So many of us dread another Zoom seder at a time when we crave the ability to sit around our dining room tables with our families, particularly after a year that has left us praying for our freedoms – with sadly so many more empty chairs at our sedarim than those left for Elijah. 

Yet we are not even permitted on the first two nights of seder to have guests join us in the garden. 

While some try to lobby for a date change, and others are tempted to bend the rules, the Torah gives us a perfect blueprint that stops us putting our health at risk for the good of a seder and simply tells us to postpone it for a month. 

In Numbers, chapter nine, we are given the gift of Pesach Sheni, a second Pesach exactly one month after the primary one. Even on the first anniversary of the Exodus from Egypt there were “some people who were in a state of impurity and could not offer the Passover sacrifice on that day.” (Numbers 9:6). 

The solution is simple – if you can’t do seder at its proscribed time, you can do it exactly one month later. The Torah uses either impurity, or being on a long journey, as the two causes to enact a delay. I would suggest being in a state that could potentially cause danger to someone else’s health is our own Covid impurity and this year has been the longest of all journeys out of a pandemic. 

Don’t prolong this journey for yourself or others by taking risks this seder night. Make your sedarim Covid safe, be it online or just with your own household, or wait for your garden seder on Pesach Sheni. 

  •  Rabbi Miriam Berger serves Finchley Reform Synagogue

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