Is Coronavirus Real?

Is Coronavirus real? The short answer is yes. 

How do I know that?  Because people are getting sick and some (a small percentage) are dying.

We hear that the media is hyping things up.  People are going crazy and stocking up on water and toilet paper (unhelpful panic). 

Colleagues of mine received strong emails from members, urging them to shut down services, Purim and everything, because coronavirus is real. 

True, coronavirus is real, but is Purim, Torah reading and Judaism real too?

Coronavirus and Judaism actually have a lot in common.  You can't see coronavirus.  It travels invisibly through tiny particles in the air.  If someone coughs in a room and walks away, the virus can still be in the air for 60 seconds, and infect someone who breathes it in.  Same thing with touching surfaces, since it travels incognito.  (This is why washing hands and being careful with hygiene is so important). 

Even someone who is infected with the real virus can be symptom free for up to 14 days, but eventually, the symptoms will surface. 

Yiddishkeit is also invisible.  When we hear the megilla, share a purim basket with a friend, or give tzedakah, the real effect of those mitzvahs are invisible. 

Some people think that Judaism is a tradition that is "real to me."  In other words, it's not real, but makes me feel good.  Imagine someone saying, coronavirus is real to me.  Of course that's ridiculous.  Even though we can't see coronavirus, we know it's real, because it has real consequences in the real world. 

The Torah promises us that when Moshiach comes, we'll see with our physical eyes, the impact of each mitzvah done since the giving of the Torah.  It may have already been 3,300 years since we received the Torah, but what's the difference between 14 days and 3,300 years in the grand scheme of things?

What does this mean practically?  Follow the guidelines from the government and health professionals, not panicking laymen.  Whenever we go out in public, we should ask ourselves how important this outing is.

Of course it's ridiculous for someone to starve at home because they're scared to go out to the grocery store where they might be exposed to coronavirus.  That's because eating food is just as real as coronavirus (maybe even more real).  If you're contemplating going out to a movie or a concert, though, the benefits of those activities might not be real enough to warrant exposing yourself, even though the risk is minimal (unless you're in a highly infected area). 

So, what about going to shul?  I'm not sure whether we'll have a minyan, but we're not cancelling, because davening is at least as real as going grocery shopping, and we fit in the guidelines of "kosher assembly."  At the same time, if someone decides it's the right thing to stay home, I understand.

Every challenge is also an opportunity.

Use this opportunity of extra time at home to do many of the real Jewish practices, like keeping the Shabbos.  Light real Shabbos candles, make kiddush tonight on real wine, share a real meal and meaningful conversation with your family, and maybe use the opportunity to refrain from driving and other things we don't do to keep the Shabbos holy. 

Reading the Megilla is one of those things that is only real when done in person (online doesn't count).  Torah reading from a scroll also requires a minyan in the room.  However, learning Torah is real no matter where you are or who you're with. 

Let us hope and pray that in the merit of increasing our real mitzvahs, may we merit to wipe the real coronavirus off the face of the earth, and see the real impact of every real mitzvah that has been done for the last 3,300 years with the coming of Moshiach!  


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