A prominent rabbi noted that the unique characteristics of the coronavirus serve to bring “the fear of death” into the world without actually killing millions like previous pandemics. This fear will mitigate Satan’s complaints against mankind and bring about the final redemption.
The Great Plague Before Messiah
Rabbi Mendel Kessin, an international speaker and noted Torah scholar, weighed in on the coronavirus. The rabbi opened his lecture by noting that it was highly significant that this one topic, the coronavirus was consuming the attention of the entire world. He cited a midrash (homiletic teaching) on Song of Songs.
The green figs form on the fig tree, The vines in blossom give off fragrance. Arise, my darling; My fair one, come away! Song of Songs 2:13
The midrash stated that Rabbi Chiya Bar Abba taught that shortly before the days of the Messiah, a great plague would come to the world. Rabbi Chiya stated that the wicked will perish in that plague.
“Are we that close to the Messiah?,” Rabbi Kessin asked rhetorically. “I believe that we are that close. I believe that the plague referred to in the Midrash is this coronavirus. We are looking at the hand of God.”
Coronavirus: Not a Killer
“Even if we perceive it as a tragedy, God is doing this out of love and to benefit mankind. We have to believe this. We have to ask ourselves what this pandemic is doing, what problem could it be solving?”
The rabbi compared the coronavirus to the Black Death, the Bubonic plague pandemic that killed over 100 million people, more that half of Europe, in the 14th century. He also noted the Spanish Flu in the beginning of the 20th century that killed an estimated 50-100 million people.
“The central feature of these pandemics was the death of millions of people,” Rabbi Kessing said. “Those plagues were clearly intended to wipe out large sections of the population. But when we take a look at the coronavirus, there is something different here.”
Rabbi Kessin noted that despite far-ranging and lightning-fast spread of the disease, the death rate from the coronavirus, though tragic, was relatively low.
“The objective of this pandemic is clearly not death,” he concluded. “If God wanted this plague to kill people, far more people would be dying. It would be devastating like the Bubonic Plague or Spanish Flu. We are not looking at a plague that was meant to wipe out tens of millions of people. It is providing suffering and sickness. But even that is not a significant feature when compared to previous pandemics.”
Fear of Death Worse Than Death Itself
“There is suffering but the main characteristic is that this plague is bringing about the fear of death,” Rabbi Kessin said. “Everyone is afraid today. That is the main characteristic that makes this plague different; the universal fear of death.”
“The second major feature of the coronavirus is the concept of a quarantine. People have to isolate themselves in their houses. The third major feature is the economic collapse of entire countries. God called forth a tiny little creature that has frozen the entire civilization, all over the world. This tiny creature has stopped all of mankind in its tracks.”
“What God is trying to do is to bring redemption. This coronavirus is a necessary forerunner to redemption. Before the geula there is a tikkun process, a process of rectification. We have to bring God back into our process of interacting with the world. The main way of doing this is through mitzvot, commandments. And if we don’t there is t’shuvah, repentance. And if we don’t repent, then God brings yissurim (tribulations) as a tikkun device. These three devices, mitzvot, tshuvah, yissurim, are what bring redemption.”
Satan the Prosecutor Being Appeased for Three Main Sins
“There remain certain major obstacles to the Redemption, the main one being the prosecution by Satan, the prosecuting angel. His job is to defend justice, which is how he is essential to bringing the redemption. Redemption can only happen when justice is satisfied.”
“The main obstacles to redemption that exist today that are being brought by Satan, the sins that mankind is doing, are zimah (sexual depravity and immorality), baseless hatred, and materialism.”
“The world is involved in an unprecedented level of sexual corruption. Hatred is fueled by lashon hara (slander). Mankind is destroying itself. Both of these are made so easy by the internet. And we see that the world is immersed in materialism and physicality.”
“Of course there are many other ways to sin but these are the three major obstacles to redemption. Satan wants to stop these sins in order to return justice to the world. God has designed a ‘drug’ to cure these sins; the coronavirus. It will alleviate the accusations of Satan and bring the redemption.”
“Unlike previous epidemics that were global in nature which killed millions of people, the chief objective of this plague comes to instill the fear of death. The history of mankind is actually the history of our wars, man’s inhumanity to man. So many people are reincarnations, and many of these people are guilty of sins that require the death penalty. God has to mitigate this but He is not going to do this with actual death. What He will do is substitute death with something that will allow mankind to survive while satisfying the requirement for a death sentence.”
Rabbi Kessin cited the Talmud as saying that there are several things that can satisfy a judgment of death.
“The fear of death is considered equivalent to the actual death penalty. And that is what God is doing to the entire world with the coronavirus. Another thing equivalent to the death penalty is poverty. The entire world is experiencing this now. Everyone is worried where their food will come from.”
“The coronavirus was sent to alleviate mankind from the judgment of a death penalty for what they did in this life as well as previous incarnations,” Rabbi Kessin concluded.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Rabbi Kessin is a recognized Torah scholar and his lessons can generally cover a wide range of topics, investigating each topic in depth. This article didn’t completely cover the entire lesson. The rabbi has explained that the main point of the lesson deals with the role slander plays in the coronavirus. A subsequent article covered this aspect of the lesson.