Hope during the COVID-19 outbreak

By April 1, 2020 May 17th, 2020 Rabbi Tzemah's Blog

‘The sun shone, the acacia was in bloom, and the slaughterer slaughtered’

Haim Nachman Bialik, The City of Death

It is spring outside, the beautiful dogwood tree outside my window is about to flower, and the coronavirus has ravaged New York City.

In one way it is very easy to be a humanistic rabbi at this time, I can’t resort to the religious panacea of divine justice. In another way it is so very hard. I cannot offer any platitudes for what is happening. It is beyond horrible.

One thing I do believe though, with all my heart, is that we will get through this.

I hope that when we do, everything will change.

Ecclesiastes said, ‘that what once was will be, and that which will be has already happened’, but the world has shifted since he uttered those words. We know that the human community can be galvanized to accomplish the greatest tasks, and that with sufficient will, we can progress towards a better tomorrow.

I have seen such astonishing acts of selflessness by nurses and doctors, who cry in fear and despair, wipe their tears away, and try to save another life.

I have seen teachers work around the clock to try to teach children remotely, while they care for their own families.

I have seen delivery trucks driven by brave souls, distributing food to the ravaged population of New York City.

I have seen my wife, who after a mostly sleepless night with our baby, wakes up to lead her community in song and greet another beautiful day full of death.

I have seen all of this and I am filled with hope.