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In a word. DISRUPTION

Friday, 13 March, 2020 - 8:09 am

 

 

 

 
Jewish Thailand• Email: rabbi@jewishthailand.com• Phone:  66-2-663-0244  • www.JewishThailand.com
A Word From The Rabbi

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Purim has come but it has not yet gone.

Considering that the entire month of Adar is considered a joyous one, we are still empowered by the instruction of our Sages to be joyous during this month.

Someone who is seeing major hiccups in his China-based business just asked me ‘Rabbi, if this is a good month, what would a bad month look like’?

There is one word that seems to jump out at me regarding this whole world situation.

Disruption. 

Our lives have been disrupted.

As of now, the majority of problems I am hearing about are really all about disruption. 

Schools closed. 

Quarantined people. 

Travels plans cancellation. 

Financial fallout. 

Supply chain breakdown. 

Yes, there are ill people. 

Sadly, there are even fatalities.

For the friends and acquaintances that I am in touch with, and to whom these words are addressed, I find that it is not really their health they are so worried about. The main challenge of the Coronavirus is the disruption it is causing to their lives. 

And fear.

Fear of what? 

Fear of having been in the same room as someone who was discovered to be infected.

Mind you, what they fear about having shaken hands with an infected person is not fear for their health necessarily. 

 (I am aware that older people have to be even more careful as their immune systems are naturally weaker. It is a testament to our society that so much care is being taken to protect our elders from illness G-d forbid. May we remember to respect and cherish them when the epidemic is over as well not relegate them to mothers-day and fathers-day visits).

For most people its the fear of the unknown.

The fear of having to be quarantined for fourteen days.

The disruptiveness to the normal flow of life by being quarantined is significant. 

Disruption faces us all as the domino-effect of closures and restrictions continue. 

Lets discuss disruption in more depth.

Besides for being a major nuisance and source of angst, there is a side benefit to disruption.

It causes us to stop and reflect.

Our vulnerability and smallness become evident.

The suave and confident feeling of ‘being in control’ is lost. 

Money, with all of its feelings of invincibility, cannot buy you protection from this virus. 

Social status doesn’t help.

The wife of the Prime Minister of Canada is apparently infected. 

Guns and ammunition are of no help either. Some of the most fearsome terrorists in the world have been infected.

I have seem quite some ‘macho-men’ who tried to play down the seriousness and contagion rates of this disease that have been soundly disproven.

When your life cannot just continue ‘as usual’ you are forced to reassess. 

Optimists continue to point out that its not as bad and not as lethal and there are many ways to interpret the figures.

Pessimists will say that this time around it is they, the pessimists who have the upper hand. They point to many gloomy predictions that are coming true.

I will leave the optimists and pessimists to their wrestling.

One thing is for certain.

No one is unaffected.

While we pray and take natural precautions to stay away from being infected and may G-d protect us from being infected, by this stage, everybody is affected in some way.

After spending countless hours dealing with the disruptiveness of this epidemic, I wondered to myself, my friends question is a good question. 

How indeed does this massive disruption fit with the theme of joy and light that the month of Adar is endowed with?

Then it dawned on me.

We all know and believe that G-d is completely in charge of every single microorganism, and thus in total control of the entire universe. 

It is also clear that we are being forced to stop life as usual. 

In other words, G-d is definitely the One introducing this major hiccup in the worlds smooth functioning. 

When G-d brings upon us such a disruption what we ought to do is quite clear.

We should not feel punished or ‘beaten-up’ by Divine forces G-d forbid.

In Chasidic thought, most people are generally good and deserving of good lives. Disruptions and suffering are thus generally not brought upon people as retribution. Rather they are brought to help a person reflect and meditate on the trajectory of their lives. They are meant to soften a person’s rough exterior and insensitivity. 

We believe that G-d is the ultimate of Good. We don’t understand WHY sometimes bad things happen to good people, but we accept that we can’t expect to understand, as G-d is beyond our understanding.

Disruptive events cause one to be humbler and more reflective. This allows for a deeper sensitivity and connectivity to spirituality. When our egoistic armor is peeled away, we are more receptive and attuned to the G-dly presence in the world. 

How does our current period match up with other ‘wake-up calls’ by G-d? 

There have been many periods in the world’s history when G-d has introduced massive disruption.

Usually they have been quite tragic. 

War.

Famine.

Pandemics with huge fatalities.

True, we are suffering a massive cycle of disruption.

The word pandemic has been used by the World Health Organization. 

We hope it will be a far less deadly pandemic than the pandemics that have come before it over the centuries. The rate of fatalities is still to be seen. We need to do our very best to fight it. Besides for following the instructions of our governments, we need to pray to the Almighty that all those who are stricken, should recover fully.

For the most part though, the massive disruption is only to our preplanned schedules. To our financial systems. To our nerves. Most of us are sleeping in our own beds thank G-d. We are not running away from falling bombs G-d forbid. We are not starving, not knowing where our next bite of food will come from. 

What is undeniably already here and seems unrelenting, is the pandemic of chaos, fear and anxiety.

But that pandemic is something we DO have some control over. 

Now WHAT happens, but how we react to it. How much we allow it to infiltrate our lives. How depressed or gloomy we are at our breakfast or dinner tables. 

It is against that pandemic, the pandemic of fear, panic and confusion, that I wish to protest!

Our Torah portion tells us about what NOT to do in the case of disruption, fear and anxiety.

Don’t panic!

The Jewish people reacted in panic to Moses’ delayed arrival by making a golden calf. Click here for more on the topic.

What YES to do?

Have ‘Bitachon’ TRUST in the Almighty. 

In Rabbi Tzvi Freemans words: Situations may arise from time to time when you can’t see any natural means by which you can get out of this. At that point, bitachon needs to wake up and step up to bat. Rather than saying, “Woe is me! Who can help me?” you say, “My help is from G-d, who makes heaven and earth—and therefore can do whatever He wants with them.” (Click here for the complete article). 

When Israel was in a state of fear and turmoil in 1991, we were blessed with the calming saintly voice of the Rebbe who quoted the Torah as saying: ‘…Israel, too, will be thrown into turmoil and terror, and will cry: `Where shall we go? What shall we do?'  And G-d will say to them: `My children, do not fear! All that I have done, I have done only for your sake.  Why are you afraid?  Do not fear, for the time of your redemption has come...’”

Click here for the full article on ‘1991: Missiles and Miracles’ 

No doubt now too, the Rebbe would have a message of faith and optimism to calm the frayed nerves of our fatigued, frazzled, disrupted and confused world. 

The Rebbe would remind us that that its still the month of Adar. That the Torah teaches that simcha-happiness is a lightning rod that attracts good health and good spirit. 

That if you Think GOOD it will be GOOD!!!!

That the month of Adar is at its height and increasing in intensity as we advance further into the month. And therefore we should practice even more joy and happiness – SIMCHA during this last two weeks of Adar.

Click here for loads of information on joy and happiness.

And that MASHIACH IS ALMOST HERE, it is up to us to do more good deeds to make him comes even sooner.

Shabbat is about to start here in Bangkok and I can’t wait to be enveloped in the gift of the Shabbat, the ‘Noah’s ark’ of calmness. To turn off the relentless barrage of the media reports. To spend time in prayer to G-d, in studying and teaching Torah and in feasting and celebrating with my beloved family and community. 

Lechayim! To LIFE, To JOY! To HEALTH!!!!!

TO MASHIACH COMING NOW!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor

 

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