Sadly, ‘unprecedented’ seems to be the new word of the year. Shortages. Uncertainty. Illness. Every day we hear of a loved one, a friend, co-worker, or family that’s fallen ill, many ending up in hospital or worse. We pray to G-d that He grants our medical professionals the strength of resources they need to serve as a conduit for His blessing of healing and recovery from COVID-19 for all.
How do we stay positive, both for our family and ourselves? What comfort does Judaism provide in these ‘unprecedented’ times?
First, we find inspiration in the stories of those who have recovered and the miracles they’ve witnessed as they awaited their fate in hospital beds around the world. Ask them, and many will recount how they prayed to G-d, that they felt G-d was with them, and that G-d sent them a miracle.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe shared a similar sentiment with a worried parent who wrote to him asking, “Rebbe, my granddaughter will be flying from London as an unaccompanied minor, please give your blessing that she have a safe trip”. The Rebbe responded by crossing out the letters “un” and adding the words “by G-d”, reading instead, “accompanied by G-d”.
As Jews, in unprecedented times, let’s remember our long history. Our Jewish ancestors in Egypt 3,000 years ago were faced with more uncertainty and hardship than we, in the 21st century, can ever imagine. At the very time the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, it’s said that no slave had ever escaped from Egypt. The recorded torture and brutality of their slavery was heinous and with no end in sight. How did our ancestors cope? The Haggadah we read during the Seder tells us, “Vanitzak El Hashem”, they called out to G-d. Every Jew in Egypt knew that G-d was with them, experiencing their pain and living through their suffering. He was with them because, as our loving Father in Heaven, he cared for each and every one of them, and like every parent, He promised to always be there for them.
And He was. G-d liberated the Jews from Egypt, as the Haggadah continues, “with a mighty Hand”, standing witness to the most glorious redemption and miracle of all time.
Amid all the chaos and unprecedented uncertainty, how can we cope? We can find comfort knowing that we have a Father in Heaven, Master of the Universe, that is with each and every one of us. He cares for each and every one of us, and will always be with each and every one of us. So many who have recovered have told us so.
But G-d is not only with us, today, throughout all the chaos. We see more than ever before that he is in us. Virtually overnight, a self-centered generation has become compassionate and caring, checking in on friends, family, and neighbors daily. With little warning, we’ve become selfless, often sacrificing our own health, for the wellbeing and safety of a neighbor. The trait of self-sacrifice often reserved for our esteemed military, has now become the new norm, for medical professionals, front-line workers, and even for regular people like you and me.
This is all ‘unprecedented’, and as I see it, nothing short of G-dly.