Every generation has defining moments. A date that becomes part of the history books and continues to echo through the years. March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic will be one of those dates. I find it difficult to write about this now because I am still overwhelmed by the enormity of it. Like the ever-changing narrative that gripped us after 9/11, when I watch the news or skim through social media, I am unsure what to believe is truth and what is conjecture. Here is what I do know.
On March 11, I went to visit my family in Calgary to spend some 'ordinary time' before we were all occupied with the cleaning and cooking marathon for Passover. We knew that people returning from outside of Canada were being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, but when I left Calgary on March 16, my parting words were, “See you in two-weeks.”
乐橙官网平台 Needless to say, I did not make it back to Calgary. It was the first time in over twenty years that our family did not get together in-person to celebrate our heritage and retell the story of how G-d sent Moses to take us out of our life of slavery in Egypt. Like many Jews around the globe, we had our own Passover Seder at home. I know that same separation from family occurred for Christians during Easter and Muslims during Ramadan…for everyone, around the world.
乐橙官网平台 At our personal Seder, we sang all the songs and took turns reading the story and prayers. When we reached the plagues, we took time to acknowledge that by being apart we were obeying the same instructions that G-d gave the children of Israel over two thousand years ago. During the final plague, the death of the firstborn, G-d told us to stay inside our homes to stay safe. If we were outside our homes, we would suffer the same fate as the Egyptians. The parallel was chilling and yet somehow comforting. We knew what to do: stay home to stay safe.
乐橙官网平台 As synagogues, churches, mosques, schools, universities, daycares, gyms, offices, stores, and other public spaces closed to stop the spread of the virus, I repeated this instruction to myself over and over. G-d wants me to stay home. G-d wants us all to stay home. If we are not essential workers, G-wants us to stay home. So, I did…and I do. I connect with my friends, family, students, and colleagues by phone and online by text messages, email, and video. Without missing a beat, Rabbi Kaplan moved our Torah, Talmud, and other classes online, where we continue to meet on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Here is one Talmudic teaching and commentary I feel is relevant in our current times: da mah lemaalah mimach, “know what is above you.” One of our Chassidic sages, the Maggid of Mezeritch, expanded on this teaching by saying, “Know that everything above—all that transpires in the spiritual realms—is mimach乐橙官网平台, from you: it is dependent on your conduct.” In Kabbalistic terms, this is known as an “Awakening from below which causes an awakening Above.”
乐橙官网平台 With this teaching in mind, I think perhaps the pandemic is paving the way for us all to consciously strive to protect others from all harm, not just the virus but all harm to body, mind, and soul. Then we will awaken from below which will cause a wakening from above and the end to the pandemic. May you all stay safe, stay calm, and stay positive.
Fiona Prince, MA is a coach, facilitator and teacher who provides fundamental communication and writing skills to help people succeed in their professional and academic lives. She worships at the Chabad Family Shul where she volunteers teaching children and adults how to read Hebrew. Sign-up for weekly communication tips at . To learn to read Hebrew, contact her at email@example.com. (Morah means teacher and Faiga is her Hebrew name).
You can read more articles from our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, July 18th 2020
Photo of masked statue by on