Everything is at rest. The world is resting. The people, the trains, planes, and the automobiles. And everything else.
I spoke with a friend from LA yesterday and for the first time in a very long time there’s no smog there. Forget about LA, it’s a hot day here in Israel and there’s no smog in Tel Aviv. The Kinneret is at an all-time high, and apparently even the canals in Venice are becoming clean again.
Everything seems to be taking a deep breath, resting, as it were. It’s as if God is making a statement. It shows us that there is a greater Power in charge of it all, because so much of what is happening is beyond our control. Even on Saturday the Sabbath was able to claim more participants everywhere in the world, and certainly in Israel proper (which now has the majority of world Jewry for the first time in 2000 years). We see the roads, the cafes, and even the beaches clear on the Sabbath day, perhaps for the first time since the Six-Day War in 1967. Nobody is desecrating the holy day in public anymore. Amazing. Everyone is literally at rest, comparatively speaking, and like it or not we must remain right here, homeward bound.
Question of the hour: Why does God want us all, i.e., all of humanity, to essentially be confined to our homes 24/7?
Answer: I don’t know.
One thing’s for sure though… We’re bound to find out.
Our schedules have been cleared, big time, and because of that fact most of the western world is quite literally in shock mode. After only a couple of weeks, nobody knows what to do with themselves anymore. We have to be careful to keep occupied and keep our spirits up with our families and really make a go of it, which is in and of itself a good thing. Cabin fever? Yes, but it’s all for a purpose. I mean, think about it, in a short period of time, this Novel Coronavirus has shut down the whole wide world in one fell swoop. The economy, the markets, the whole travel industry, Hollywood, you name it. It has affected every one of us, and nobody is exempt. Not you, and not me either. Indeed, we’re all in the same boat, regardless of race, religion, social status, financial position, the upright along with the not so upright. I dare say, God has ordained that all of us must stay in our respective domains. And now it’s the law! And nobody is above the law.
What to do now (you may ask)? In my view, this situation has prompted us all to realize that the crown is returning to Him, i.e., there must be a Supreme Being that’s really in charge and that the world and all that’s in it, us included, belongs to Him, as we say in one of the Jewish liturgical poems: “Haketer V’hakavod L’chayei Olamim.”
As the famous song goes: “We are the World” – we are all now in a situation whereby we are being forced to rely on each other, and are therefore obligated to do so. We must rid ourselves of the petty grudges we harbour against one another, overlook what they did to us, and start right now helping each other out in any way we can. Even a small random act of kindness would be most welcome, whether people will admit it or not. So let’s start giving.
Truth be told, in many cases people are facing life/death scenarios every single day, certainly in countries like China, Iran, Italy, and Spain, and even cities like New York and Bnei Brak. Ironically, the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities have been the hardest hit. This demands a paradigm change on our part. What does that look like? Mutual respect for one and for all. No more infighting allowed! As it says in the Torah: “Derech Eretz” (being a mentsche) always comes first. All of the external symbols of honor and power have disappeared into thin air. No longer can we make gala weddings for 500 people at $250,000 a shot, or spend big bucks on other celebrations with dozens of people. There’s no reason to be dressing up in designer clothes to go out anymore for that matter. Wear them at home!
Similarly, we’re all trying to work from home if possible, but because nobody’s going to the office anymore, there’s no longer the same amount honor attributed to our job positions, whether you’re a businessman, a celebrity, a sports star, a Rabbi, a Minister or Imam. In fact, for the first time ever the holiest places for the three major religions are completely closed down at the same time: the Vatican in Rome, the Temple Mount/Western Wall in Jerusalem, and Mecca in Saudi Arabia. All the externalities of our service to God, and all the pride that we carry along with it aren’t relevant anymore. Even the honor of getting called up to the Torah, having your own congregation, or any other type of religious prestige is now becoming increasingly immaterial, and the last thing on people’s minds. It’s all about our personal, inner spirit now. Back to basics!
Wow! Take a deep breath. All that honor is going back to the Source.
After this all passes over, I personally don’t think it’ll be business as usual like before. I believe the result will be that hatred between countries will dramatically decline because we have learned the hard way that we all ultimately need each other and must rely on each other, and it’s not about self-aggrandisements anymore. Especially in a new world where there’s not enough money to go around. It’s a global village, like no other time in the history of mankind and everyone is nervous, stressed and anxious. Whatever assistance we can offer to each other now, especially our close family, the better.
The pursuit of personal goals and monetary gain has become so much less important. A good thing no? At this juncture we must look beyond ourselves. We must try hard to overlook the perceived faults of our colleagues and acquaintances. Believe it or not, according to the Talmud we are actually living in Messianic times, in particular what’s called: “Chevlei HaMashiach” (loosely translated as the Birthpangs of the Messiah).
I did an interview on TV last week (now on my YouTube Channel) regarding the Corona Virus Pandemic in Israel and how it has affected our politics and government (or lack thereof!). At the end we discussed the possible reasons why certain countries are getting hit harder than others, and in particular Italy. Nobody can say why really, but this all must be been Divinely ordained. Since the Pope and the Vatican are right there we spoke about the sacred Temple artifacts that are still there after 2000 years, in particular the golden headplate of the High Priest (the “Tzitz”) and the Temple Curtain (the “parochet”) which apparently still has the rip in it from the Roman general Titus. Let’s hope that all of this is a preparation for something exceedingly great: living in a more spiritual world leading to the ultimate resting of the Divine Presence in the Third Temple in Jerusalem, where all peoples will finally be at peace.
We’re in a state of rest. Let’s make the best of it and look outside ourselves to see the blessings we have all around us. We are the world, so let’s start giving…
Have we a choice?