Question: We live out of town and do not get a chance to see much of our extended family that often. A highlight of our year is the Yomim Tovim where we travel to our children. The thought of being home all alone for Yom Tov is just so sad for me. Baruch Hashem I get along with my husband but I was so looking forward to Yom Tov with the delicious grandchildren. I know that there are people that are sick and that in comparison this is not such a huge problem. Still I hope you can help me with this tremendous disappointment and dread that I feel. Thank you.
This is indeed a letdown. It is disappointing; it is sad; and it is lonely. Like so many others, your Pesach plans have been ruined. And it is not just Pesach plans. Even those of us not spending Pesach alone are all approaching this Yomtov with uncertainty regarding the future. Can we indeed experience simchas yomtov?
During these challenging times, there is little we can do to change our physical situations. We cannot change who we spend Pesach with nor can we change (for now) many other aspects of our new normal. The one area that we do control, though, is our outlook and perspective. Consider the following. There is so much that you lack, and yet there is so much that you have. This Pesach you are all alone, and yet every other Pesach you are not. You cannot be with your delicious grandchildren, but you can appreciate that you have delicious grandchildren.
The Seforim (e.g., Maharal) explain that we are first maschil bignus and then misayem bishvach because we can only truly appreciate the shvach if we first experience the gnus. This is likely also why we need derech shaila utshuva: the question creates a gaping hole, which then allows the answer to be fully appreciated.
We can walk out of this Pesach, disappointed with our personal gnus or we can utilize this situation to work on increasing our appreciation of our shvach. Who really knows the meaning behind what we are all going through? Perhaps this can result in us being all the more grateful next year when we do spend Pesach with our grandchildren? And perhaps, in the absence of all the externals, we can use our gift of perspective and can even be grateful this year? Maybe we can truly contemplate and appreciate the "ad haina azurunu rachamecha" while we also daven for "veal titsheinu lanetzach"? Maybe this year, in addition to having a little more meaning in our physical maror, we can also end up appreciating the matzah?
A freilechen Yomtov!
Originally appeared in Yated Neeman