The Healer!

We are currently in the midst of the daily Omer count, which began the second night of Pesach and will end 49 days later, bridging the holiday of Pesach with the Holiday of Shavuos, which is on the fiftieth day.

The connection between Passover, which marks our Exodus, and Shavuos, when we received the Torah, is because physical freedom from slavery did not afford the Jews a definitive direction as to how they should conduct their lives. The purpose of their being freed and G-d acquiring them as His possession was so that during the course of the next 49 days as the Jews travelled to Mount Sinai they would work on themselves and spiritually elevate themselves to be capable of experiencing G-d’s Revelation and assume the responsibility of fulfilling and living G-d’s mandate to observe His Torah and Mitzvos.

Over the course of Pesach we had the privilege of having our children and grandchildren join us. At one of the Holiday meals I posed the following question: During the year of the pandemic, sadly, many people lost their lives and many people continue to suffer. Many people had the virus and got through it safely, and many did not get the virus at all.

Here was my question: Since it was a pandemic that spread across the globe, how should we consider those who did not get the virus? Should they be perceived as if they were healed from the virus, or as if they had no connection or link to the virus at all?

My nine year old grandson Shimmy Epstein immediately commented that it depends. On a physical level, those who did not get the virus didn’t need to be healed. However, on an emotional level, every person was affected, some more and some less, and everyone needs some type of healing. Shimmy then went on to say that for him being out of school and away from friends really bothered him. Wow! Needless to say, Shimmy got a huge hug and kiss from me!

There was a reason I asked this question. After the Torah records the song that Moshe and the Jews sang after the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea, the Torah tells us that G-d gave the following guarantee: “If you hearken diligently to the voice of Hashem your G-d and do what is just in His eyes and follow His commands and decrees, then any of the diseases that I placed upon Egypt, I will not bring upon you, for I am Hashem Your Healer.”

I came across a commentary of the Maharal of Prague who explains that G-d is guaranteeing that all the plagues that He placed upon the Egyptians will not come upon us – because G-d is the Healer – as He showed us by healing us in Egypt.

Based on this, the Maharal explains that when, for example, the plague of boils afflicted the Egyptians, the Jews due to their slavery were in a weakened state and were susceptible to the plague that was rampant throughout Egypt. They were saved because G-d provided healing to the Jews and thus they did not contract boils and so too, He continually healed them from all the plagues.

I ventured to say that perhaps the same can be applied to the Covid – world pandemic. The virus/plague spread throughout the world with many people getting the virus. However, those who did not get the virus, even if they did whatever was necessary to protect themselves, by the fact that they were spared from the rampant virus they were, in effect, Healed by G-d. This demands a special degree of gratitude to G-d for sparing them, because He is the Healer!

The Talmud tells us that there are four categories of salvation that warrant one to offer a thanksgiving offering – or a special public declaration to G-d. One who was released from prison, one who was sick and then healed, one who traveled safely through the desert, and one who traveled safely at sea.

The Maharal points out that after the Jews safely crossed the split sea, they sang G-d’s praises on account of all four salvations that G-d did for them. They were freed from imprisonment and slavery. G-d sent healing to them during the plagues. When they left Egypt G-d immediately directed them towards the desert. And when they crossed the split sea they were saved as well.

The Maharal ties each of these four salvations to the four cups of wine that we drink during the Seder.

During the Pesach morning prayers and at each Seder we recited the Hallel prayer where we stated, “I will raise the cup of salvation, and the name of G-d proclaim.” We thanked G-d for every single breath we take and of course, for our salvation that is apparent.

Now that we, thank G-d, see some relief from the pandemic – it is an opportunity to declare our appreciation to G-d for all His healing!

Rosh Chodesh Iyar is this Monday and Tuesday and we will once again have an opportunity to recite the Hallel – and raise our voices in gratitude to the Almighy!