We’re told that as the plague of darkness fell upon ancient Egypt, that it was a special kind of darkness. It was a darkness not of the sky, but a darkness of the heart. People lost the ability to see each other.
Might it not be that this virus episode has in some ways brought us closer to each other? As the virus has spread throughout the world, so has our sense of empathy increased as we realize that we are all in this together. We are all trying to make do with remaining in our homes and trying to maintain as “normal” a life as is possible. And what a lesson we have come to learn: this virus does not discriminate between rich and poor, or between Jewish or Muslim or Christian. This virus doesn’t care much about gender, ethnicity, political affiliation or nationality.
Yes, this is a time for us to take care of ourselves, but not only ourselves. There are the aged to be cared for, the children to be nurtured, and a society that is very much in need of each of our efforts to inhibit the spread of the virus.
Surely, this is a time for us to think beyond the walls of our own homes and reach out in ways that we never have before.
A rabbinic colleague expressed it this way:
Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call.
Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
Every inch and foot that we physically place between ourselves and others must become a thought as to how we might help or reach out to that other.
Yes, this is a time for us to reach out to people who are part of our lives. It’s a time to let people know that we are thinking of them and that they are not alone or isolated.
Our sages expressed much wisdom for these days when they declared:
“If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
I wish you a Sabbath of peace and tranquility. Together we will prevail against this invisible enemy so long as we care for and strengthen each other.