Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
Medically speaking, the coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, but the last few days have taught us that it attacks our souls no less. Only now, as the Health Ministry regulates preventative measures of separation, do we realize that we are all one. When someone tests positive, the path he took is spread before our worried eyes. Were we with him? Did we share a train with him or sit near him in the synagogue? How many people do we pass everyday in the supermarket, at work, on the street without noticing them?
The new directives teach us how close we actually are to one another. How natural it is for us to be in crowded places, to shake someones hand, to tap them on the shoulder, to hug. We are learning so much about ourselves through everything the coronavirus is trying to take away.
We just recently read in Megillat Esther that when the Jewish nations fate rested on her shoulders, Esther asked Mordechai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast on my behalf. Before the fast and the prayers, first assemble all the Jews. Unity is the secret of our strength, the root of our hope, and the source of salvation.
Hearts follow deeds, said our sages. Indeed, it might be natural for our hearts to follow behind the directives meant to separate us to prevent contagion. It might be natural for this to deteriorate, G-d forbid, to a situation of to each his own, an internal quarantine following the physical one. But in these recent days, we have seen that the situation is the opposite. Tens of thousands of Israelis are putting themselves into quarantine of their own volition out of a sense of responsibility for those at high risk. Volunteers are offering help to those in quarantine all over the country.
This is the Jewish nation at its best. And despite the background of public disagreements, the profound truth that beats in the heart of every Jew becomes apparent We are all kinsmen.
Especially now with the Health Ministry regulations, we will do everything we can to connect to one another in different ways we will check on our elderly neighbors, volunteer, and pray wholeheartedly that He who blessed our forefathers and foremothers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah will bless and heal all those who are ill who need a speedy recovery. May the Blessed be He send them speedily a complete healing healing of the soul and healing of the body along with all the ill among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily, without delay, and let us all say: Amen!