If Covid-19 is a test, are we passing?
What if God is waiting for us to cry out? What if all we need to do is to cry out in despair, as Abraham did thousands of years ago?
חָלִ֨לָה לְּךָ֜ מֵעֲשֹׂ֣ת ׀ כַּדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה לְהָמִ֤ית צַדִּיק֙ עִם־רָשָׁ֔ע וְהָיָ֥ה כַצַּדִּ֖יק כָּרָשָׁ֑ע חָלִ֣לָה לָּ֔ךְ הֲשֹׁפֵט֙ כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מִשְׁפָּֽט׃
“Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Genesis 18:25
There is something so biblical about what is occurring now. In addition to all our challenges with dealing with Covid-19, yesterday I heard that there is a swarm of ‘murder hornets’ headed this way.
Is this not plague-like?
Where are the masses of us turning towards God, pleading for a respite from this horror?
But, instead of unifying ourselves during this pandemic challenge, it has created divisions among us.
So, I need to do soul searching, to find that place that allows the anger to wash over me, and try, hard as it is, to put myself in someone else’s place.
I need to do that with many things these days.
If I remain angry, then what have I learned from our history if not to work at being tolerant?
For us as Jews, this is a unique obstacle that has had devastating consequences.
Baseless hatred, known in Hebrew as Sinat Hinam, was what the sages blamed for the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. This was considered even worse than the three most egregious sins: forbidden sexual relations, idol worship and bloodshed.
It sounds so ancient….the destruction of the Second Temple…but what I often forget is that this was the total eradication of everything we had known as a people up to that point. Our way of connecting with God. The rhythm of life that brought us together as a people at least three times a year. Even our societal systems. It all needed to be different.
Yet, there was recovery.
So many times after destruction there was hope.
We already have learned so much about ourselves: both our generosity and our selfishness.
It is so hard, but we need to find a way to strengthen our ties and not dissipate them.
Perhaps in these times each stream of Judaism needs to do the impossible—-to overcome the historic challenges that have separated us and rely on what is at our core as a people, our connection to the One.
If we are undergoing a test of our resilience, it means that we have to cultivate our ability to act humanely in the face of adversity, care for each other in new ways, and strengthen our own communities and the world in new and uncharted ways.