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Erasing Doubt - Craving Clarity (Coronavirus)

Sunday, 8 March, 2020 - 4:04 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,


This is the word I would use to sum up the worldwide situation right now.

There is nothing at all clear about the Coronavirus.

The fatality rate is unclear. 

Is it really super-bad?

Or not as bad as it seems.

The infection rate is clearly impossible to determine conclusively.

How exactly does it spread, we know a lot, but there are still some mysteries.

Where does Thailand stand in this whole story? 

Israel obviously thinks Thailand is a hotbed for infection. Anyone coming from Thailand has to enter quarantine for two weeks. Other countries don’t seem to share that opinion as they haven’t placed any travel bans on people coming from Thailand thank G-d. What approach is right?

Even we who live in Thailand also don’t know. Some say the reporting by the authorities is true. Others posit that there are coverups and things are much grimmer than what is being reported. 

I humbly admit that I don’t know. 

The only thing that is crystal clear is that there is a lot of anxiety, panic and confusion.

Is confusion and uncertainty a negative thing?

Perhaps not always. But very often at least, doubt and insecurity are negatives. 

Faith, certainty and dependability are the pillars and foundations for a positive and well-balanced life.

We all know that to raise children healthily we need to provide them a secure environment. Its much the same for adults as well.

Stability, clarity, steadiness and predictable reliability are craved by most human beings. 

We get disproportionately fearful and even terrified from the unknown. 

This is what seems to be adding to the prevalent fear. sUnlike the ‘common’ flu, this virus is highly uncommon and till very recently totally unknown. 

Is there is a pandemic in the world right now.

Medically? I don’t know for certain. I think it depends who you ask.

Mentally and emotionally? Definitely. The pandemonium has crossed all borders and affected all aspects of life.

Nothing is clear anymore. The future seems unpredictably disrupted. Supply chains. Airline schedules. From toilet paper supplies running out in several countries around the world because of mass-hysteria hoarding, to Passover plans being called into question as travel bans are increasingly broadened. All plans seem open for renegotiation. 

Clarity and Holiness go together. 

This week we take out two Torah’s.

In the first one we read the portion of Tetzaveh. One of the topics in the Parsha is about the ‘Urim Vetumim’. This was a function of the breastplate, one of the High Priests special articles of clothing, which allowed the leadership of the Jewish people to get divine answers to critical questions. Click here for more. It would be very helpful in our current situation to be able to ask G-d about how we should react to this virus. Sadly, this level of Divine communication is unavailable to us since the First Temple’s destruction. 

After the destruction of our first Bet Hamikdash the level of G-d’s revelation in our world decreased and was not yet recovered. We need Mashiach to come for its reinstatement. 

What we do have available though, is access to G-d’s timely wisdom as taught in the Torah. 

Let’s take a look into the Torah to glean some sanity and shed some light on our current situation. 

In the second Torah reading tomorrow, we read the portion of “Zachor’, ‘remember what Amalek did to you when you were on your way, leaving Egypt’.

The numerical value of Amalek is ‘safek’ which means doubt. 

A clear pattern emerges here.

Clarity is G-dly. 

Doubt is Amalek – our archenemy. 

Here is what I have to offer. 

For doubts? For pessimism? You don’t need me. There is Google. If you are looking for the bad news, there are plenty of news sources and analyses that give you doomsday responses. 

What I would like to share with you is articulation of the clarity that G-d has transmitted to us through the Torah.

First of all, try to get rid of anxious thoughts. Think about positive pleasant things.

The Torah teaches that joy borne of faith and optimism is the best therapy for creating a healthy and positive outcome. 

The panic and pessimistic defeatism is just not the way we are supposed to live.

I too want to send you to Google. It’s a great source of knowledge. But only once you are fortified with the Torah perspective of being joyous. With a reframed perspective that has you searching for good news not for bad news. If you are looking with that illuminated perspective, you will dig up articles in which you will get a healthy dose of optimism. There are plenty of those too. It depends what you are looking for.

Secondly, act responsibly. The Torah says that doctors were give the Divine mandate to heal. Optimism doesn’t mean irresponsibly putting your head in the sand. 

Follow the instructions of the medical establishment in your country. 

Some may ask, if this is a medical crisis what does faith have to do with it? Isn’t it purely scientific?

The answer is that G-d is the creator of our universe. Every cell is created by G-d. Every atom, to be more precise, every proton neutron and electron, is created by G-d. 

G-d is still at the helm of His universe calling all the shots.

He and He alone, oversees who gets the virus, how it is transmitted, the effect it will have on the one who is smitten and the subsequent rate of recovery.

The very building blocks of nature are miraculously created and enlivened by G-d. 

G-d himself has told us in the Torah that living by His instructions is a source of blessing and healing. 

Strengthening our faith and trust in G-d is in itself the most powerful tool and a pivotal catalyst for prevention and healing from all sickness.

JOY is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Click here for ‘The Chassidic Approach to Joy.

This month is the month of Adar.

Click here for a powerful thought about this.

Adar is about reversal. 

Changeover from negativity to positivity. 

Purim was a hundred- and eighty-degree turnaround from sadness to joy.  

From fasting and mourning to feasting and rejoicing.

I will go as far as to say that I believe unequivocally, the best way to help yourself, your family, your community, your country and the world at large is to (I will write it in large font):


Click here for a quick joyous thought about this 

And no less importantly (and in the same size font): 


Here in Thailand based on the local government instruction this is our Synagogues policy:

We are going to encourage people to celebrate Purim of course. And we are going to encourage people to be responsible.

How to celebrate Purim?

As we have done for the last thousands of years. Hearing Megilah, gifts of good to exchange with friends, monetary gift to the poor and a Purim feast with plenty of ‘lechayim’ and oodles of joy!

Click here for the four mitzvahs of Purim and for a wealth of teaching and knowledge about Purim

And responsibly. If you don’t feel well, stay at home so as not to G-d forbid spread anything contagious (even if it’s ‘only’ the ‘old-fashioned’ flu). 

Handshaking? I would suggest that you not be the first to extend your hand to someone else so as not to potentially embarrass him. If someone extended their hand to you? I think it depends on your own personal levels of anxiety. Whatever the case, wash your hands thoroughly as often as you can.

While our Purim party has changed locations based on the reality of less visitors, as well as implementing financial austerity measures during these challenging times, I do realize that some people may be wary about attending a public event at the shul. 

I have good news. Not wanting to attend a large avent does not at all have to interfere with your celebrating Purim properly. 

Purim does not absolutely require big crowds. One can hear the megillah with a minyan in a smaller setting. Giving a food gift to one other person is simple. Money to the poor can be fulfilled online and you can party away in a smaller setting. Plenty of good kosher wine for saying lechayim is available at as well as many flavors of hamantaschen (poppyseed, halva, chocolate and maybe one or two others).

To accommodate the current situation, we have added additional Megillah readings during the day which will be attended by smaller groups of people. 

If you feel very anxious about coming to Synagogue contact me privately about the possibility of having someone read the megillah in your home.

Now back to Joy.

Something that made me really bursting with Jewish Pride and Happiness this week, was the NY Saturday night TIMES SQUARE CTEENS event. Click here if you too want to be inspired and energized and if you have a little more time, and want to feel youthful, the very moving dinner with speeches and all is also online here.

Back to PURIM!!!




Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS as stated above:

Megilah reading times at Bet Elisheva:

The evening Megillah reading will be on Monday March 9th 18:45 (6:45 PM)

The daytime Megillah will be read on Tuesday March 10th 

At Shacharit (Prayers begin at 7:00 AM) 7:45 AM

Other Megillah Readings 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and at the party 5:00 PM and final reading at 6:00 PM

PPS Who is right? The optimists or the pessimists? In my thinking, the optimists are praying that they are right. And the pessimists are also praying that the optimists are right. So what chance do the pessimists stand? 😊

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