Hoping (or Hopping) Our Way to Salvation

Question

Hi Rabbi, what’s your take, as a Rabbi, on the whole coronavirus epidemic that we see in the world today? Thanks and be well.

, 9 months

Answers

  1. Six months ago, did anyone think that China, one of the most powerful nations in the world, would be closed up, that their economy would be in freefall and that their citizens would be dying by the thousands? Not only that, but that the whole world would be sucked into the problem involuntarily? Six months ago, the only plausible scenario that would have made any sense to explain it would have been some kind of war between the mightiest nations in the world.

    Nevertheless, this chaos, havoc and global disaster has occurred without an iota of warfare. Not nuclear, chemical or biological. It has all happened because of an “invisible” strand of RNA called a virus. This may sound absolutely nonsensical. But it is our present reality. It sounds absolutely improbable and completely beyond imagination. And yet it is true.

    No one can say for sure why this is happening and why it is happening right now. But I keep coming back to a thought from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary on the Torah. He asks: Why did God choose to send frogs, of all things, for the second of the Ten Plagues? After all, frogs are not very threatening. Rabbi Hirsch answers that this question is also the answer to the question. Frogs — although unthreatening and harmless by nature — brought the mightiest empire in the world to its knees. Why were frogs chosen? To show the Egyptians the absurdity of believing that they were masters over their own strength and power. Comical frogs managed to dismantle the might of the Egyptian empire, without a single battle.

    It seems to me that what is happening now is eerily similar. The whole world is grinding to a halt. Economies everywhere are being enormously damaged, countless people are dying, and millions are being put into isolation and quarantine. And all because of a microscopic “bug.” It is as if this innocuous virus has become the Plague of Frogs of our time. Maybe, just maybe, God is letting us know that He is in charge. Not us. Yes, human beings can destroy the world many times over with their awesome nuclear power and their even larger egos. But, right now it is not nuclear fallout that everyone is concerned about. It is finding the right vaccination for a virus that should not be affecting us. And yet it is.

    This is all happening in the month of Adar, a month that symbolizes our reliance on God. This is the month preceding Passover, the festival referred to as the Festival of Freedom. Who knows? If we listen carefully enough, could it be the footsteps of the Messiah that we hear?

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team