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Friday, 24 April, 2020 - 5:02 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I don’t know which one to believe.

The news reports about a cure that works and a vaccine about to be approved.

Or the reports that next winter during the flu season things will be even worse.

The predictions that things will bounce back quickly,

Or the predictions that it will take years for things to hobble back.

Doubt seems to be our new state of life.

To quote many an editor commenting on today’s situation, “The only certainty is uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis.”

If you have the exploring spirit in you, don your space suits, and prepare to exit the force of earthly ‘gravity’ in the next few lines. I am going to take you on a virtual trip to Heaven to see what the Academy of Heaven are saying ‘upstairs’. One assumes that from their vantage point they should be in the know. 

In Heaven? No doubts there. Or are there doubts there too?

Let’s visit Heaven and check it out.

The Talmud tells us of a Heavenly debate regarding doubt as it pertains to a nuance of ritual impurity. 

This debate is regarding the laws in our weekly Parsha about ritual impurity caused by the appearance of a white skin discoloration from withing which a white hair is growing. (It’s not relevant to our current post-Temple times so don’t worry about your white hairs or skin discolorations).

If a white patch on the skin comes first and then a white hair grows from it, this is a sign of ritual impurity. If the white hair preceded the white patch the person is still pure. 

If there is a doubt which came first, i.e. whether it is pure or impure, there is a difference of opinion.

The Heavenly Academy says it is impure. The Holy One Blessed Be He says it is pure. 

Fasten your seatbelts for reentering the worlds orbit and landing back on earth.

That was heady. Getting a peek into the workings of the Heavenly Academy. But what does that really have to do with us here on earth?

Well, didn’t we just talk about us being in a state of doubt?

Doubt about the optimistic or not so rosy future regarding the current pandemic.

Turns out, that there is a more fundamental doubt we face.

It is a much longer running state of uncertainty and doubt that has grown every stronger every day for the last nearly two thousand years.

The promise of G-d that after the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) in Jerusalem there will be a rebuilding and a redemption. 

That this world will become a utopian peaceful abode for unified serving of G-d by all of humanity.

Where is it? Is it really happening? 

It’s almost two thousand years that the Jewish exile drags on replete with tragedy and suffering. Pogroms, Crusades, Inquisitions, expulsions and the Holocaust. Tragically even in our times we have seen horrible terror attacks in Israel, the army needs to be vigilant to ward off our enemies and the increased anti-Semitism around the world is epically disappointing. 

The thing is, that we have gotten used to it. We give a sigh when we read about an attack against our brethren and move on with life.

Can you imagine how tragic it would be if we resigned ourselves to a ‘new normal’ regarding the illnesses and deaths of the virus? 

Getting used to this scourge would stifle and sabotage any attempt at changing things for the better. We need to resist this sickness with all our might. Our top medical researchers to throw their collective brainpower at overcoming this virus not throwing up our hands and acquiescing to living with this killer microbe.

That’s the way we should also feel about the exile and concealment of G-d which allows for the wicked to prosper and the righteous to suffer.

In a redeemed world, the ‘good guys’ would always win and the ‘bad guys’ would always lose.

We shouldn’t settle for anything less than that.

Here is the doubt of the last thousands of years.

To use Heavenly terms, 

Is it pure? Or impure?

i.e. is it visionary and forward thinking to think we will have a perfected and redeemed world?

Or is it fanciful and farfetched?

Our Sages taught us that the heavenly debate I just quoted from the Talmud is actually an allegory for the musings we all have about the coming of Mashiach and the building of the Bet Hamikdash.

After so many years there is a doubt.

Has G-d rejected us G-d forbid? 

Or was he angry with us for a short time perhaps, but after the anger will come reconciliation and love.

Which way is this doubt going to be resolved?

If we read this argument into the Talmudic passage, the analysis goes like this:

The Heavenly Academy of souls is pessimistic. The world looks to unredeemable to them. They say impure. When in doubt? Its not going to work out.

G-d Almighty overrules them. 

G-d says have no doubt. PURE!!!!

It may be taking a long time says G-d. But hang on tight. I am in charge, and I am telling you 


i.e. the world is not unredeemable. 

You, even in the Heavenly Academy may not see it my way says G-d. But I see things that you don’t see. 

I am going to redeem the world. I am going to send Mashiach.

It is a reality. He WILL come. Just you wait… don’t give up hope when its so close.

May I conclude with a prayerful blessing.

About our current doubts regarding the uncertainties we face in the aftermath of the virus. Let me pray that here too there should be no doubt.

May G-d rule about this doubt PURE by bringing healing to the world. 

May He bless the efforts of our heroic hardworking medical experts and research teams, to find the cure for our world.

We, who are not medically trained, should continue doing more mitzvahs and studying more Torah to bring spiritual blessing and healing to the world.

May this month of healing (IYA’R acronym for ‘I am G-d who heals you) bring complete and speedy healing to all.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS I was honored to be asked to give a Torah class on the above topic as presented in the Rebbe’s edited works on the Parsha.

This is part of a recently launched initiative called ‘Project Likkutei Sichos’ which will complete the study of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s edited Parsha commentaries in a period of eight years. If you are an ambitious Torah studier you may want to visit the site and join in. Amazing resources for study in English and other languages. 


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