In some ways, it is exactly like the original Passover, as we return to the time when it all began, on that fateful night in Egypt.
In describing the events of the original Passover, the Torah gives instructions for how the Jewish people should eat the Korban Pesach (Paschal Lamb). First, the verse states: Each family should take a lamb, one lamb per family, one lamb per house (Exodus 12:3). This meant that each family functioned as a solitary unit and had to prepare their Passover meal in advance. Then God gives another set of commands to the Jewish people: No one should leave their house until morning (ibid. 12:22), which is repeated several verses later as: You shall eat it in one house, do not take the meat outside (12:46).
We can see from here that the Torah clearly emphasizes the theme of families being together -- alone -- in their own homes. Keep in mind, this was all while the plague of the firstborn was going on. In fact, a 13th century, French Bible commentator known as Chizkuni makes the connection between these two ideas by explaining that since there was a plague raging outside, God was advising the Jewish people that if they were to venture outdoors, they would be putting themselves at risk. Meaning, the Jewish people are warned not to go outdoors on the night of Passover because it is not safe. Instead, they were to remain indoors and #stayhome.
This year, for Passover 2020, the Jewish people will be observing exactly as our ancient ancestors did thousands of years ago. Although Passover has become a popular time for people to travel and vacation while schools are closed, this year it seems that God has other plans for us. This year, there will be no organized programs, no hotels, no vacation spots. Instead, only immediate families will gather alone, in their own homes. We will sit down for the seder with just the members of our household, just as the Torah prescribes.
In a sense, one can take the perspective that we are returning to how it all began -- the original source. And just as our ancestors were kept safe from the plague raging outside, may God continue to protect us from harm and keep us safe from our modern-day plague.
Wishing everyone a Happy Passover!
Rabbi Haimoff teaches at The Brandeis School in Lawrence.