There are two Mitzvot which people tend to confuse with each other. The one is incumbent upon us every single day and night. That is the Mitzvah to “remember your going out from Egypt all the days of your life.” The other is the Mitzvah to “tell your children on that day” all about our Egyptian experience. They are not the same Mitzvah. The first is fulfilled when we say the third Parasha of Kriat Shema every evening and morning, when we remember that HaShem declared, “I am G-d your L-rd Who took you out from the Land of Egypt to be your Lord.” This Mitzvah is pretty easily fulfilled. On the other hand, the Mitzvah of retelling and recounting all about our experiences in Egypt comes only on Seder Night and is not so easy. It takes time and effort and some planning in advance.
Whatever is told and recounted on the Seder Night as part of the Mitzvah of ‘Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayyim’ will invariably fall under one of three headings which all together make up our Egyptian experience, as follows:  How hard and cruel was our slavery in Egypt.  How miraculous was our Deliverance from there by HaShem and  the purpose of that Deliverance, namely, to be His treasured Nation, the People of HaShem and His Torah. At the Seder, we are to utilize every moment we can to “tell it to your children.”
As a general rule of thumb, if a paragraph in the Hagaddah is in Aramaic, this indicates that the ‘Anshei Knesset HaGedolah’, the ‘Men of the Great Assembly’ (who composed the Haggadah) intended that everybody should understand clearly what is being said and that this is a part of the Mitzvah of the Seder Night. Aramaic was the language spoken by the people in their everyday conversation and even though most people understood ‘Lashon HaKodesh’(The Holy Tongue) to a degree, it was not as universally understood as Aramaic. It follows, therefore, that for us today, those parts of the Haggadah that are in Aramaic should be said in English, with the English read at least as prominently as the Aramaic to fulfil the intention of the ‘Anshei Knesset HaGedolah’ that everyone should understand clearly what is being said. So use a Haggadah with a good English translation. Likewise, the one who leads the Seder should all the time explain and elucidate the narrative of our time in Egypt and our Deliverance, or delegate this to someone else who can.
In fact, it is a good idea for all the narrative parts of the Haggadah to be translated at the Seder. Depending on the participants and obviously always taking care not to cause any embarrassment, some families have the custom that each person at the table has a turn to read the translation of the Haggadah. Some even share out the Haggadah in advance to give a chance to the participants to rehearse their paragraphs with the translation. The main thing is that everybody should be involved. The one who leads the Seder should generally keep things moving along nicely, very much like the conductor of an orchestra, inviting those who wish to do so to add Midrashim, comments or explanations to each paragraph as it is read. All of this, everything that brings alive our Egyptian experience, is the Mitzvah “to tell” on the Seder Night.
Here in ‘Chutz la’Aretz’ we are lucky to have two Sedarrim. In fact, it’s hard to understand how our brothers in Israel manage to tell everything in the course of only one Seder Night! The Seder is the only time in the entire year that we have a Mitzvah to retell and recount our Egyptian experience. There’s so much to tell, and the more one tells, so much is the narrator praiseworthy!
RABBI LORD JONATHAN SACKS: The shared hell of WWII changed Britain for the better. Coronavirus will do the same
When this bleak time is over, when schools and pubs and theatres reopen, when we no longer need fear the warmth of a handshake or the closeness of friends, will life simply return to normal or will something within us have changed? Will we look at community, society and humanity differently? Will something good emerge from all this anxiety and pain?
I think it will. When people go through tough times together, a profound bonding takes place. That is what happened after the Second World War. While the war was on, people for the most part lived from day to day. There was little time and tranquillity to think about the distant future.
Yet it was precisely then that the seeds were sown for a different kind of society. There was a deep sense that much needed to be changed. There were too many inequalities. There was too much poverty. The economic crash of 1929 and the depression of the 1930s had left scars that had to be healed. Britain had to become a more caring, cohesive and compassionate society.
The architects of this vision in the early 1940s were figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple, the political theorist and historian R. H. Tawney, and the economist William Beveridge, people of widely different orientations yet united in their belief that something positive should emerge from the fog of war.
The result was the creation of the welfare state, a system of social insurance for everyone regardless of income or age. The 1944 Education Act provided compulsory free secondary education for all. In 1948 the National Health Service was born. These were revolutionary changes that reshaped Britain from then to today, and almost certainly they would not have taken place without the collective experience of war.
Something very similar took place in the USA. There were the benefits, financial and educational, for ex-service men and women, known as the GI Bill of 1944. There was new legislation governing labour relations, a minimum wage, social security, disability and unemployment insurance. These too were the result of the intense social solidarity that emerges whenever a group experiences threat and collective danger.
What happened in both countries is what I describe in my new book, Morality: Restoring The Common Good In Divided Times. There was a shift in emphasis in society from ‘I’ to ‘we’.
One of the greatest challenges in free societies is to maintain a balance between the ‘I’ of self-interest and the ‘we’ of the common good. We must be able to compete but also to co-operate. There is within each of us an ‘I’ that asks: ‘What’s in it for me?’ But there is also a ‘we’ that knows that ‘we are all in this together’.
The longer any nation has known uninterrupted peace and prosperity, the more likely it is that the ‘I’ will prevail. This generates much liberty and creativity, but it also leads to huge inequalities, an emphasis on rights not responsibilities, a breakdown of trust and a feeling that society is unfair.
When a nation encounters adversity, on the other hand, the sense of ‘we’ grows stronger. At such times people are acutely conscious of how much they depend on one another.
Dame Vera Lynn, who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday, recalled her time during the Second World War ‘when we all pulled together and looked after each other’ and urged us to summon the same spirit ‘to weather the storm of the coronavirus’. People remember the tough times more vividly than the easy ones, precisely because they do bring us together.
We have seen striking examples of both in recent weeks. There has been the ‘I’ behaviour of people stockpiling and hoarding goods, focusing relentlessly on themselves and their families at the cost of other people. Heaven alone knows why someone feels they need 600 rolls of toilet paper. People have been flouting isolation and insulation guidelines. A Russian woman escaped a coronavirus quarantine and posted her story on Instagram, explaining that ‘I have a right to my freedom’. Well, no actually. We do not have a right to our own freedom if exercising it harms or seriously endangers others. That is why you can’t have rights without responsibilities.
But we’ve also seen some amazing ‘we’ behaviour. Following a call from the Health Secretary for an ‘army’ of volunteers to support health professionals, we now have more than half a million people who have signed up to do a variety of tasks from transporting medicines and shopping for those who can’t, to speaking to the lonely and isolated on the phone.
Millions took to the streets, to their balconies and their windows on Thursday night to applaud the bravery of our brilliant NHS workers. It was an extraordinary sight that none of us could ever have imagined only weeks ago. That is a Britain of which we should feel proud. Throughout the country, individuals and groups have been establishing contact with their neighbours, the elderly, the vulnerable and the lonely, offering help.
Virtually all the synagogues I know have established such groups, and I am almost certain that the same is true of churches, mosques, gurdwaras, temples and other religious congregations. Faith is one of the great seedbeds of altruism.
There’s also been an almost non-stop stream of videos and messages on social media, packed with music and humour, lifting people’s spirits and teaching them how to avoid catching or communicating the virus in a gentle and smiling way. Humour heals. It preserves our humanity.
We feel better when we exercise the ‘we’ rather than the ‘I’. We are social animals, hardwired for altruism. There is compelling research evidence that, above a certain income level, we gain more pleasure from giving than from getting. Volunteering has been shown to strengthen the immune system. Making someone else’s life better floods our own with meaning, and this itself has huge health benefits.
I would hope that we emerge from this long dark night with an enhanced sense of ‘we’ in five dimensions. There is the ‘we’ of global human solidarity. Never in my lifetime have we lived through a period in which people in every country throughout the world are suffering the same fears, the same dangers, the same risks. The poet John Donne’s famous words could have been written for now: ‘Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.’
There is the ‘we’ of national identity. The divisions over Brexit that once seemed to overshadow all else can now be put in perspective. When it comes to real fundamentals like life and health, what unites us is greater than what divides us.
There is the ‘we’ of humility. Despite all our affluence and technological powers, one tiny virus has brought humanity to its knees. From here on, we should never underestimate our vulnerability.
There is the ‘we’ in acts of kindness. Reaching out with help to others should make us permanently aware of other people’s problems, not just our own.
And there is the ‘we’ of hope. Just as Christians are getting ready for Easter, their great moment of renewal, so Jews around the world are beginning to prepare for Passover, our festival of freedom.
Passover contains a message of hope for all of us. Each year we tell the story of the exodus, that begins in suffering and ends in liberation and joy. That is the shape of the human story. Out of the bad, comes good, out of the curse comes blessing. Out of the coronavirus pandemic will come a new sense of collective responsibility, and we will all feel renewed.
Here’s what various celebrities are offering you and your children/grandchildren for free daily to help with their education while schools are closed:
9.00am - PE with Joe Wicks https://youtu.be/6v-a_dpwhro
10.00am - Maths with Carol Vorderman www.themathsfactor.com
11.00am - English with David Walliams https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses/
12.00pm - Lunch (cooking with Jamie Oliver) https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/category/get-kids-cooking/
1.00pm - Music with Myleene Klass https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQh2wgJ5tOrixYBn6jFXsXQ
1.30pm - Dance with Darcey Bussel https://twitter.com/diversedancemix/status/1241098264373592065
2.00pm - History with Dan Snow (free for 30-days) https://tv.historyhit.com/signup/package
4.00pm - Home Economics with Theo Michaels (Mon/Wed/Fri) https://www.instagram.com/theocooks
Non-daily events include:
Science with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & Guests https://cosmicshambles.com/stayathome/upcoming-schedule
9.30am Wednesday 25 March - Geography with Steve Backshall https://twitter.com/SteveBackshall/status/1242058846941712385
For your older kids, here are 50 free revision resources for 11+, GCSEs and A-Levels:
Aron Kodesh designed by MARCUS K GLASS 1929/1930 when the building was converted from a Victorian Gymnasium. Holland Road Synagogue is believed to be the only remaining active synagogue designed by this remarkable architect.
Shabbat 10th April • 16 Nissan
2nd DAY PESACH
Shabbat 11th April • 17 Nissan
It is with considerable pleasure that the Shabbaton Choir brings you something very special – “Kabbalat Shabbat - The Movie”– a special video production featuring Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld and the music of the Shabbaton Choir, which we hope you will enjoy as you prepare for Shabbat this week.
Please click on
"One of the concerning things about coronavirus is that some people have tested positive having had no symptoms at all.
They may be spreading the virus without realising it which is what makes it particularly disturbing.”
Tuesday 17th March
Government advice based on expert science data states that social interaction should be curtailed in order to offer the best circumstances for reducing contagion of the Coronavirus.
The action for our congregation must be to respond to this directive immediately if protection against infection of this life threatening disease is to be the priority.
The great majority of our members fall within the category of ‘elderly’ which is classified as ‘over the age of 70’.
Additionally a number within that age group are perceived to have underlying health issues and therefore at high risk to succumb to the worst outcome of the Coronavirus.
For this reason and our focused concern for the wellbeing of our congregants your Board of Management with the approval of Rabbi Samuel has taken the drastic and extremely difficult decision to suspend services without delay. This unprecedented measure is entirely for your protection and has been taken reluctantly and with a heavy heart.
It is our intention to set up an internet and telephone based Communications Programme that will ensure the shul
remains in contact with everyone of our members who might benefit from this personal attention. In particular Rabbi Samuel throughout this period will be available to speak to and or under safe circumstances meet with should you so require.
Comment and matters of interest will be made known on the HHC website www.hollandroadshul.com to which you should firstly refer for updated information.
We do hope we have your understanding and support at this profoundly difficult time for us all.
These extraordinary times call upon us to take extraordinary measures.
For several weeks, we have been seeking responsible and creative ways to ensure that our Shuls, the cornerstones of our communities, could continue to function as the anchors of Jewish life. Yet, it is now clear from the Government’s latest guidance, that congregational activity of any kind, including those of religious communities, poses a significant danger to the vulnerable and will serve to hasten the spread of the virus.
With this in mind, our Torah obligation to protect the sanctity of life transcends all other considerations. Therefore, with much pain and with the heaviest of hearts, in consultation with the Dayanim of the London and Manchester Batei Din, I have concluded that we have a Halachic imperative to suspend all activity at all of our Synagogues until further notice. This includes on-site and off-site prayer services, educational, cultural and social meetings and activities for all ages. The Dayanim and I will now be praying all weekday, Shabbat and YomTov services by ourselves at home.
This inevitably raises many questions about how we sustain Jewish communal life, particularly with Pesach approaching. Further specific guidance will follow soon. For now, let us comfort the bereaved and pray for the recovery of the sick. Let us guarantee that the physical distance that this virus creates between us will be bridged through compassion and kindness. And let us all resolve to play our part in overcoming this pandemic by carefully following medical advice and public health guidelines.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
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CORONA VIRUS Guidance and advice
Money, finances and renting
MoneySavingExpert: Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights:
Travel and holidays
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)
Gov.UK: Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response:
Medial help and advice:
Support for people with medical conditions or disabilities
BBC Ouch! Podcasts and updating guidance:
NHS guidance for people with significant medical conditions:
Age UK: Online guidance
Government advice for businesses and employees
COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses:
Coronavirus and The media
BBC Coronavirus podcast:
Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/coronavirus/index.html
The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/coronavirus-outbreak
The Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/coronavirus/
The Mirror: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/
The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/topic/coronavirus
The Sun: https://www.thesun.co.uk/topic/coronavirus/
The Express: https://www.express.co.uk/latest/coronavirus
BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers
ITV News: https://www.itv.com/news/
Sky News: https://news.sky.com/
Full Fact: https://fullfact.org/