Thursday, March 12, 2020

I had been hoping to write my message this week on some reflections of a Purim holiday that was joyous in many different ways. This week is somewhat surreal as significant changes were occurring on an almost hourly basis due to the Coronavirus that is wreaking havoc on every corner in the world. Its impact is being felt on every aspect of society from the financial markets to the airline industry and much in between. This is a time that years from now, history will mark as remarkable as a global event. There are many different angles and perspectives on this virus, and I would like to share one here.
This crisis is upending many underlying assumptions that we have as a society. One of them is how much control we have in life. One of the sober realities that we are being confronted with is how vulnerable we are. The myth of Man in the twenty-first century who is all-powerful and has built up a robust economy, unparalleled technological advances with cutting edge in modern medicine have all come been seriously questioned. It just took a few microscopic pathogens to turn this world upside down. The truth is, although we may be shocked by the unraveling norms that we have come to expect as a society, this is not the first time this has occurred. Although it’s not a perfect analogy, the plagues that ancient Egypt suffered that are described in the Torah offer a compelling lesson. It tells us of a society that was a superpower of its time that went unchallenged by all and refused to recognize the hand of G-d in life. Indeed, G-d told Moses that the primary purpose of the plagues was not only to reinforce that there is a G-d who is a Creator but a G-d who manages daily affairs in the global arena as well. The Egyptians refused to believe how vulnerable they were until it was too late for them. The days ahead will be undoubtedly challenging and difficult. Instead of obsessively checking the news every few minutes, it may be worthwhile to spend a few extra moments on reflection and prayer. This hard reality about our vulnerabilities being exposed should hopefully cause us to turn to G-d in these difficult times.

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