Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn? Post 1

This is the first of a series of posts through which I want to investigate, with the input of others, how we, as believers in Hashem and followers of Torah, should be responding to this reality of the viral pandemic that the world is facing. This is not to say that we should necessarily respond differently than others. In fact, in many ways if not most, we should be responding as other intelligent and knowledgeable individuals respond. How is the acceptance of Torah reality, though, to possibly change our response?

To begin this discussion, I want to first discuss the issue I had in naming this post. Should the question be 'What are We to Learn?' -- which I eventually chose -- or 'What is God's Message?'. The reason I finally rejected the second choice is because the idea that any human being can determine God's message must always be recognized as beyond us. No human being can definitely state why God did something or does something unless this person had a prophetic vision from God informing this person of this truth. The most we can propose is what we are to learn from an event. To undertake this investigation correctly, however, we must still believe that we are striving to know and understand the truth of God's message which we believe is inherently intertwined in what we are experiencing. We must, though, still accept that whatever we conclude is our own personal determination of how we interpret what is happening. Thus, the question must be what are we to learn.

Nevertheless, I considered the language of God's message because the further consideration for a believer in Hashem is that this event is not just the product of science and nature but a creation of a Thoughtful Being. This does not mean that we are not to respond to the facts as they are. The facts, the reality, are still true and demand proper responses in themselves. The point is that this reality is not just a reflection of some random coincidence but must have been created with some purpose. The reality has a point. The further call for one who accepts the reality of Torah must be, as such, to consider this further point. What are we, thus, to learn from all this?

This, of course, opens a whole collection of possibilities. There are those who offer universal answers and those who define things more personally. There are always those who declare that the lesson is for the other -- and who can say that it is not. Yet, the lesson may also be for you. The further fact is that, since there are many sides to our personalities, there may be many different sides to the determination of this issue. How are we affected as Jews? simply as human beings? within our personal lives? The world is considering how to respond to the facts as individuals, as communities, nationally and universally. In the same manner, we can ask what we are to learn, as Torah Jews, from all this.

It is this investigation, in its various parts, that I hope to initiate in these posts.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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