March 19, 2020

A Jewish Perspective on the Coronavirus

Like in the US, Israel has been shaken by the Coronavirus pandemic. In this small country, more than 500 Israelis, including 10 members of the Israel Defense Forces, have been tested positive, as of this writing, and of course, the number is rising rapidly. Thank God, there have been no deaths and we are in fervent prayer that remains the case.


Amidst the great panic and anxiety, there have been some positive elements that have emerged in recent days. By staying home, families are coming together. More are praying than ever before, including Prime Minister Netanyahu according to media reports. And since public transportation is stopping over the weekend, for the first time, all Jews in Israel are honoring the Sabbath!


I was mesmerized by Pastor Franklin’s powerful sermon on Faith over Fear, which was attended by President Trump, and wanted to offer a Jewish perspective on the uncertainty we are all feeling. 


So many of us have lost all sense of certainty with the Coronavirus scare. No one knows what will happen next. So how do we stay sane when we don't know what's lurking around the corner? 


An Australian rabbi explained that the truth is, it is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty.


This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating. 


This tiny virus has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, the markets are crashing, entire countries are shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. But that is always the case. We never know what the future holds. We only think we do, and keep getting surprised when events don't pan out as expected. Now we have to admit our vulnerability. What will happen next? We don't know. Our experts don't know. Our leaders don't know. Only God knows.


So friends, keep calm for panic and fear are also contagious. Take every precaution as advised by health authorities. Stay home, practice social distancing and wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.


By Rabbi Tuly Weisz


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