We are certainly living in an historical time. The CoronaVirus as we all know is affecting every corner of our planet. While the world has suffered diseases and calamities over the millennia, this modern world wide calamity is particularly scary.
So what did we do to deserve such an honor? Well, we know it started in China. But we and the rest of the world did nothing to bring this pandemic upon us.
No One deserves to be afflicted with the dangerous Coronavirus. No One - that’s a given.
But one can not help but wonder about the philosophical and spiritual aspect of this calamity. Scrutinizing ourselves is not an easy thing to do. This is not about the CoronaVirus “punishing” us. It is about making the best out of a bad situation.
Do we all live our lives in calm, peace and harmony? Was everything just fine when suddenly this Mishegaas fell upon us? We all know the answer to these questions.....
Last week I was standing in line in Publix. A man who was standing behind me overheard the cashier greet me with “Good morning Rabbi” (I am very famous in Publix, don’t you know…) Realizing that I am a rabbi, he turned to me and said, “So Rabbi, this Corona thing comes to teach us to live together in peace don’t you think so?” Now the man did not look religious, most likely not even Jewish (judging by the nice golden cross hanging from his neck…) but it seemed that he was interested in a philosophical discussion. Surprised, I turned to him and said” Yes, you are right, this would be a good time to learn to have more compassion for each other”.
I was just about to leave when the man insisted on continuing the conversation: ” Do you think, Rabbi, that G-D is doing all this to teach us a lesson?”I smiled and said, “I am not an expert on G-D’s intentions but He sure acts in mysterious ways sometimes,doesn' he?” I then went to my car. As luck would have it the man was parked right next to me so when I was about to pull out he approached my car window and said, “I wish people would realize what we just talked about.” I nodded my head, wished him a nice day and drove away.
As I was driving home I was amazed how people are beginning to look at the situation from a philosophical/spiritual point of view.
A few days afterwards I had a similar discussion with a friend, a member of our synagogue who pointed out to me my big mistake. Even if we are experiencing the Corona turmoil as a purely natural event the religious/philosophical reasoning cannot be ignored. There is nothing mysterious about what is happening to us, the human race.
Consider the state of our country and the whole world: the strife, arguments, bickering and scandals, the moral decline, the political hatred the indecency which knows no restrained, the nonchalant attitude towards polluting mother earth, damaging it for the next hundred if not thousands of years.The constant wars in certain parts of the world, the endless suffering of innocent people. Get the Picture?
The analogy my friend offered me was simple yet profound. We are like siblings who are constantly fighting and hurting each other until their parents have had enough of this behavior. They send each sibling to his/her room saying “You take time out in your rooms, Stay there! Do not leave until we tell you!. You need to think long and hard about the way you treat each other”
So all over the world people are sitting in their rooms, literally unable to leave. Perhaps it is Mother Earth or G-D Old Mighty himself or perhaps our moral conscious telling us, “Dear Humanity, It is time to change the rules of the game of life.” Become more tolerant, have more sympathy towards each other (Remember John Lenon?...) Learn to truly embrace world peace, begin to really take care of our beloved mother Earth with deeds - not just lip service.
A timeout is a very good thing. Can you imagine boxing matches without a brief time out between the rounds or a basketball game when the coach cannot ask for time out to regroup the team or exchange players?
And the timeout that we are experiencing? This is an opportunity given to mankind as a gift by G-D and Mother Nature. A wake up call to all nations. It is a time to pause and reflect, a time to reset and redefine who we are as humanity and as dwellers of our precious Mother Earth.
Indeed, This gift doesn't come cheap. We pay a hefty price for it both in money and in human life and suffering. So let's take advantage of this very expensive opportunity and make our time out a time within.
As we sit for the Passover Seder next week and as we mention the 10 plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians, may humanity overcome this plague with a new understanding and desire to live in harmony and peace.
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