The other day, right before I was to begin a class for the residents of Webster Towers, the cover of a Time magazine laying on the table caught my eye. The year ‘2020’ was printed in bold with a big red X superimposed on it. The caption read, “The worst year ever.” The name of a journalist appeared whose article will explain why 2020 was the worst year ever.
When sending out a weekly email blast it helps to come up with a catchy or intriguing subject line to pique the interest of the recipient so that they open the email.
To me, 2020 with an X and such a subject line did not compel me to read the article. We all know that 2020 was a hard, difficult and a very different type year. We can all write our own article based on our personal experiences to describe what we went through during Covid.
My feeling is that to put an X through a year as if it did not exist, is contrary to the fundamentals of our teachings. Our belief is that everything that G-d does is for the good. We may not understand it, but by the mere fact that all comes from G-d it must be good. As an expression of accepting G-d’s will we recite a blessing that G-d is the Judge of Truth at the height of one’s grief over the loss of a loved one.
This expression compels us to look deeply into our lives, in the past, present and future and to consider and focus on G-d’s ‘intervention’ in our lives, and seek to find and recall the blessings He places in our lives.
Covid was certainly a challenge, there was loneliness, anxiety, job loss, illness and of course, many deaths. As we are returning back to our routine, we don’t say another year bites the dust. Rather, when we are faced with good experiences or challenges we consider it as if we attained another notch in our belt – or received another medal that we can reflect on and build upon.
I recall a statement made in the early 30’s by the saintly Chofetz Chaim of Radin Poland, “There will not be a war on American soil because the government is based on the principles of Chesed.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders of our US government for standing up in the most difficult and bleak moments of corona. They cared for their citizens by providing food, funds, medical treatment, and the G-d given blessing of a vaccine, and doing whatever possible to stop the spread.
With this attitude and perspective of focusing and reflecting on the good that was most evident during 2020, we can build and become better people and citizens, and through expressing our gratitude and appreciation for all these efforts, G-d will continue to bless America with peace, prosperity and health.
This week’s Parsha is about Korach, who aside from being a prestigious Levite, was in fact one of the wealthiest people to ever live. With all that he had he could have been very busy and occupied, yet, Korach sought a leadership position to which he was not entitled. In order to achieve his personal goal, he risked everything he had, his wealth, family and his life.
Korach’s drive and focus to be the Kohain Godol came at his expense, and the expense of his followers who he was able to influence.
Our Sages tell us that “someone who is imprisoned cannot free himself from jail.” He needs someone from the outside to help him escape.
This does not apply only to one who is physically imprisoned, it also concerns one who is held captive through suffering from addiction, or embattled in a feud, stubborn in their ways, mindset, or position.
Korach’s cohort Ohn, because of his righteous wife who was able to reason with him and opened his eyes to see things clearly, withdrew from Korach. Korach’s wife on the other hand was with him in the feud and was unable to counter his ridiculous claims. She lost her life as well, when the ground swallowed them up. They were both ‘jailed up’ in their thinking.
It may be a worthwhile exercise to look back on Covid and reflect and count all the blessings and goodness we received, and what we were able to give and offered to others. Something tells me that we will find many things that enriched our lives!