Twenty four years ago, on Parshat Korach, my brother celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. It was not a normal Bar Mitzvah. Being a quadriplegic, Eyal could not walk or talk. The microphone would be of no help. And yet, his wheelchair was pushed onto the bima, a camera flashed his face onto a gigantic screen, and the congregation responded “Amen” to his blessing over the Torah. I recently looked at his speech from that special morning. This is what he said:
“Some people never thought I would have a Bar Mitzvah because I’m in a wheelchair and on a respirator. But this day proves them wrong! You might think this day is like a miracle, when something happens that you don’t expect.”
In today’s world amid the pandemic, we have all reevaluated our priorities. What’s important in our lives? It is becoming apparent: connection to each other, and connection to community. It is what defines us and it is what we miss dearly.
A week before my brother’s Bar Mitzvah, my mother panicked and was nervous of Eyal’s stubbornness. She asked my father, “What if he gets on the bima and doesn’t say a word?” My father calmly responded, “It will be OK. Just being on the bima will be enough.”
In these moments, things are not the same. We know virtual is not the same as an in-person gathering. We know an email is not the same as a face-to-face conversation. Yet, we must not panic. We must appreciate what we can do to connect within these limitations. We must simply “show up,” be present in the moment, and realize that each day we connect, a miracle occurs.