01 Apr Coronavirus Part 4
Dear Readers! First and foremost, I hope that you are healthy, safe and well. Furthermore, I hope that Hashem has given you and your loved ones the ability to shelter indoors as much as possible. I am following my own advice; my wife and I are in hibernation for over two and a half weeks now. This is moreover the advice of Chazal, Bava Kamma [60b], “Dever b’ir, kanos raglecha – If there is a plague in the city, withdraw your feet.” For food and pharmaceuticals and other necessities, utilize delivery services or teenagers who will leave packages outside your door. There is an invisible enemy, that takes maturity, to safeguard ourselves from it. While employing these precautions, of course, we synthesize to it-our prayers to Hashem that our hishtadlus, efforts, should be sufficient and He should keep us safe. There is a Talmudic concept, “Mitzvah bo yoser mi’b’shluchos – It is preferable to do a mitzvah by yourself rather than having others do it for you.” This is the reason, for example, why yeshiva bochrim take off from their all-important learning in order to go help in the baking of matzahs. It dawned on me that one of the consequences of the Coronavirus is that we are not staffing out many of the precious mitzvos which we were in the habit of delegating to others for most of our lives. Many people haven’t kashered their kitchens for Pesach in years but rather went away to a hotel. Others never really cleaned for Pesach but instead brought in a cleaning crew. Oldsters will be kashering for perhaps the first time in their lives by themselves, because it was a job usually taken care of by their children and grandchildren. And since it’s not safe for the youth to be around, many of the baby boomer generation, find themselves schlepping up pots from the basement, putting on silver foil and scouring surfaces, jobs that they never before did with their own hands. Hashem obviously wants us, this year, to get more personally involved with Pesach preparations. To grind the moror ourselves, and shlep the boxes of chometz to where they will be sold to the non-Jew. Both Rav Chaim Vital, zt”l, zy”a, and Rabbi Akiva Eiger, zt”l, zy”a, emphasize the importance of not being sad during a time of plague. We hear this advice but we wonder how it is possible to follow it. Every day we hear or read reports of choshiveh people and wonderful friends who have tragically succumbed, some dying alone, from this terrible disease. The first thing we must know is that we shouldn’t try to fathom why Hashem took these people away. The posuk says, “Ki hamishpot l’Eilokim – Judgement belongs to G-d.” We should get out of the judgment business. The Gemora in Masechtas Berachos tells us that when Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem, “Hodi’eini na es drachecha – Explain to me Your ways. Mipnei mah tzadik v’ra lo – Why does Hashem sometimes do bitter things to righteous people?” Hashem informed Moshe Rabbeinu that it was beyond his scope of comprehension. If this is true for Moshe Rabbeinu, it is surely true for us. We do know that sometimes takes away a tzadik, lo alenu, who atones for many others – as on Purim when the saintly Daniel was assassinated by Haman and his death atoned for the entire generation. If we have a home for shelter, and are surrounded by a loved one, and have enough money to pay our bills and provide for ourselves a simple Pesach, this should be for ourselves a source of happiness. It is easy to be dismayed that we don’t have family over for the Seder and for Yom Tov. It is natural to feel despondent that we probably will not be going to shul for Yom Tov and we certainly won’t be going to hear a Shabbos HaGodol drasha. Yet, Hashem gave us at this specific time in history other challenges: The directive of v’nishmartem meod es nafshoseichem, guarding exceedingly our health grows more and more challenging as cabin fever begins to overwhelm so many of us. Bear in mind that the harder the mitzvah the more rewarding it is. Also remember how supreme the mitzvah is of protecting our lives. Saving a life supersedes both Yom Kippur and Shabbos. Hashem has given many of us another challenge and that is to safeguard and promote our shalom bais, our marital harmony during these trying times. With husband and wife being together almost all of the time, there comes many challenges. It is natural to start getting on each other’s nerves, especially with the pressures of Pesach and the children who are cooped up in the house as well. The situation can become volcanic and explosive. Forewarned is forearmed! Hashem is looking to see how the smart husband and wife navigate these turbulent times to come together and be a ready assistant for each other’s needs. One spouse might need to calm the nerves of their mate who is anxious about becoming sick while the other could show their true colors by rolling up their sleeves and helping prepare for Pesach, by doing a task that they’ve never done before. If we have the resources, now is a good time to help our less fortunate relatives, neighbors and friends who are not working and are fearful about not being able to pay their mortgage, their utilities, their health insurance and even for their food. In the merit of our spiritual perseverance, may Hashem keep us all safe and bless us with. Long life, good health, and everything wonderful.