Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Turn Corona Around

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Operation Inspiration

I have been trying to avoid writing about Corona because I think that, first of all, people have enough sources talking about it, and second of all, it seems to have become a political hot button. But, since that’s really part of my point, I am going to share my thoughts with you anyway.

I’m sure there will be detractors and I’m sure I will be blasted by people on all sides, but that never stopped me before (well, not a lot) so here goes.

From the beginning, people have been looking for someone to blame. Whether we blamed China, or people eating raw bats, or we blamed Russia and some secret plan gone awry, I think the “frum” world has generally missed the boat.

Not that we can say everyone has, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s said this from the start, but the only people we can blame this on is ourselves. You see, everything in life comes from Hashem. If someone opens a competing business to yours, that person didn’t affect your parnasa – Hashem did (and maybe it won’t affect you anyway.)

By looking for answers outside of Hashem, we’re missing the message. When a fire took the lives of seven precious children in Brooklyn a few years ago, some people took that as a Heavenly sign that we need to use only UL-listed appliances. Do you really think that was the message?

We are not people who are supposed to live in this world as settlers. We’re passing through and shouldn’t get bogged down in the culture of physicality. We can even do mitzvos and learn Torah but if we become entrenched in this world, those things can become tainted.

Some people worship science and some people worship business. Some worship their own cleverness and still others worship showy “avodas Hashem.” We need to ask ourselves if when we serve Hashem, we’re letting anything else have a say in our behavior.

One of the most divisive things to come along in years has been Corona itself. Do we have to wear masks to protect each other? Are people who don’t, murderers? Are people who do, fools who’ve fallen for the lies?

How much are we willing to give up of ourselves for others? Are we willing to overlook their perspective for the sake of peace? Are we willing to inconvenience ourselves to make others feel happy and safe?

These are questions that don’t have easy answers. But one thing really stood out to me this evening.

I have seen much finger pointing. Everyone is blaming someone else. Have you seen pictures of what a Corona cell looks like? This “crown” looks much like a ball studded with little spikes pointing outwards. In Ohio, we used to have trees growing “Buckeyes” which are a type of chestnut I believe, but they grow within round shells with pointy spikes on them. The joke used to be to toss one to an unsuspecting friend who would get stabbed by the spikes to the bemusement of the one who threw it.

Those spikes (sharp points, not a rise in numbers) pointed outward, only caused pain. Sort of like Corona and the fingers pointed in all directions but to ourselves. But tonight I thought about it.

What if we turned the Coronavirus inside out? What if those spikes were not pointed elsewhere? If we did, we’d find that everything, all those barbs and fingers, would be pointing to the center. Does this remind you of anything?

At the very end of Mesechta Taanis, Ulla Biraah says that at the end of days, Hashem will make a dance circle for the righteous. He will sit in the center of them in Gan Eden. They will all point at Him with their fingers in fulfillment of the posuk, “And it shall be said on that day: Behold, this is our G-d, for whom we waited, that He might save us. This is the L-rd; for whom we waited. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Yeshaya 25:9).

Instead of pointing fingers everywhere and saying that others caused Corona or keep it going or destroyed businesses, we need to point in only one direction: Hashem. He did this for a reason and we need to stop blaming others. The longer we do, the more we prevent ourselves from joining that Heavenly dance.

Let’s trust in Hashem, and realize that though others may be diametrically opposed to us in their beliefs, they can be equally situated around Hashem and we should stop the hatred and name calling.

Hashem doesn’t allow two raindrops to intersect, He won’t let any viruses land where He doesn’t want them to. Now can we please make a circle (socially distanced, of course) and put all our focus on HaKadosh Baruch Hu?

 

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