Trying to endure loss in isolation is more than painful; it puts our lives at risk. Rambam understood that when he described the consequences of not being connecting to Am Yisrael at times of trauma, including our fast days.
My search for “silver linings” in no way minimizes the toll in suffering, pain, loss, and inconvenience the pandemic is exacting from our lives; I fervently pray it will end soon. Still, I believe that the secret to Jewish survival despite all the hardships and tragedy history has imposed on us is our ability to cling to the hope that things will get better.
Friday’s sunset could be no different than Thursday’s, a time marker notching off another day or another week, but Shabbat requires us to mark a more substantial difference, Regularity is key to keep track of our lives between other Jewish times and when days blur into each other.
We've learned to procure the basics and meet many of our needs in new ways; with digital technology, we have found substitutes that have enabled us to learn and socialize virtually. Yet the Torah reminds us that individualism and isolation are not the ideal state of being.
Even as structure and routine begin to crumble, ritual observances don’t stop for the virus. As did many generations of Jews before us, we must adapt ritual to this unprecedented way of life, and Shabbat services, a mainstay for nursing home residents, necessitated creative adaptation.
Racism is a form of idolatry, of self-worship that is immoral and is fundamentally against humanity and democracy. What we do in the Poor People's Campaign is to help people make the connection between interlocking injustices that threaten everybody’s security.
And at this moment, in the midst of the pandemic, we are witnessing a time of reckoning for the racial divide that has torn our society apart for so long. What does it mean to bring a baby into a world in desperate need of r’fuah sh’leimah, the full healing of body, heart, and soul?