Everyone is looking for some guidance and meaning during the outbreak of the COVID 19 virus.
Over the past week a number of Rabbis have shared words of inspiration and direction and I wish to share some meaningful points that touched me.
Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz pointed out that when one follows the guidelines of social spacing, personal hygiene, and where applicable, self quarantine, they are not only protecting themselves, but they are involved in an inherent act of Chesed by preventing other people from possibly contracting the virus.
Rabbi Yaacov Schnaidman explained that all the recommendations are only possible solutions to slow down the spread of the virus but there is no cure in place. However, there is a solution that is certain, and that is sincere prayer – giving up ones will to the Almighty – realizing that He is the One who sent this invisible plague and He has the power to take it away. Prayers are the sure way to the positive results we seek!
A thought… here is a tiny germ that G-d spread throughout the world that has brought the world powers and financial institutions to their knees. It has wiped out personal wealth, caused massive job loss, and has disrupted organized prayer, study and schools. Just a tiny unseen germ is causing so much havoc.
The ways of G-d are good and He rewards good deeds in an exponentially higher way than He directs punishment. This means that if we focus on what is good and what G-d wants from us, such as Mitzvos, prayer, character refinement and not sharing or spreading words that are disparaging about another, no matter how small the act is, it has the ability to evoke G-d’s mercy to direct a halt to this disturbing, dangerous and deadly worldwide virus.
This past Shabbos we spent a beautiful Shabbos with our children and grandchildren. Of course the concern over the virus was foremost on our minds. As Shabbos approached I asked that we refrain from talking about it during the course of Shabbos, and that’s how we conducted ourselves. Shabbos gave us a break from the news and we were able to bask in the holiness and peacefulness of the day. We truly enjoyed each others’ company.
At the end of Shabbos, just as Havdalla was about to be recited, I reflected on how beautiful the Shabbos was and how we can infuse the entire week with the inspiration of Shabbos and not get overly consumed with repetitive news that just raises one’s anxiety level.
My daughter in law wrote me, “Shabbos was absolutely beautiful! Thanks SO much for coming. It means the world to us. It was also very calming to have you (we were quite anxious)….”
This week’s portion deals with G-d’s instruction concerning the construction of the Temple, however it begins with the laws of Shabbos. Shabbos is a precursor to the construction of the Temple to teach us that the laws of Shabbos override the construction of the Temple, and any form of creative activity that was necessary to construct the Temple was prohibited for us to perform on Shabbos. Our Sages delineate the 39 categories and subcategories of work required for the construction of the Temple.
A question raised is, that for the most part, the Shabbos observances are refraining from creative activities. However the Torah uses the word La’asos – to do ― regarding Shabbos. Why are we told “to do” when essentially Shabbos is about what not to do?
I think perhaps the Torah is telling us – to do – is to be proactive, to strategize and find ways to ensure that the spirit of Shabbos is in place in all situations.
Shabbos is a day when we tune out from the world and the daily grind. G-d gave this day exclusively to us to observe and uphold, and on this day we are in a different sphere.
The Talmud which we studied this week in the worldwide Daf Yomi cycle speaks about how G-d told Moshe that He has a great gift in His Treasure vault which is the Shabbos. G-d told Moshe to tell the Jewish people about it.
Rabbi Gedalya Schorr o.b.m. quotes the Sfas Emes who points out that G-d told Moshe to tell the Jews about it – but never did he take our gift of the weekly Shabbos out of His Treasure Vault. This means that from the onset of Shabbos when the candles are lit and its observances upheld, until Havdala, a Jew enters and is enveloped in the aura of G-d’s Treasure Vault. There he finds himself basking in G-d’s special space, atmosphere and protection!
With Israel on a lockdown and Jews all around the world staying put at home, the merit of Shabbos observance will have the power to usher in our Redemption!