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The Entire World Is at War!

Thursday, 12 March, 2020 - 2:37 pm

I know we’re at war because the entire world is in a state of elevated panic and anxiety.

I know we’re at war because dozens of airports and airlines across the world have shuttered.

I know we’re at war because the stock market is wildly fluctuating, dipping frighteningly.

I know we’re at war because my kids’ schools (and many others) have all been cancelled indefinitely.

I know we’re at war because streets and subways are empty.

I know we’re at war because people are quarantined at home.

But for the first time in history of wars… I cannot see, touch, feel, smell, hear, or taste my enemy. All I know is its name: Coronavirus. It’s a brand new kind of war.

I don’t know who my enemy is, so I will endeavor to remain six feet away from every human being on the planet, just in case.

I don’t know where my enemy is, so I will stay away from every institution just in case.

I don’t know when my enemy will attack, so I must remain alert at all times.

I don’t know what my enemy is, so I’ll make sure to wash my hands obsessively at every opportunity.

I don’t understand why this enemy is attacking, so I’ll beseech G-d to vanquish this invisible monster.

But as new as this war is, it’s actually a war as old as time.

As Jews, we’ve been engaged in this kind of war since the dawn of civilization. You see, we are in perpetual battle with the forces of evil; another enemy we cannot see, touch, feel, smell, hear, or taste. We know only its name: the yetzer hara, the evil inclination.

We don’t know who the enemy is, so we try to make sure that our own immediate 6 feet surrounding is a place of holiness and purity.

We don’t know where that enemy is either, so we hang out in shul to pray and study Torah where we know we will be safe.

We don’t know when the enemy will attack, so we remain on high alert all day, starting with morning prayers, ending with the evening Shema.

We don’t know what this enemy is, so we make sure to wash our hands obsessively when we wake up in the morning, before eating bread, and after using the restroom.

And certainly, we can’t understand why the enemy strikes, so we pray devotedly to G-d, beseeching him to remove all evil from the world and bring Moshiach.

So let’s fight both wars simultaneously!

Let’s check in on the vulnerable and isolated. If you have elderly friends, relatives, or neighbors (or people who are otherwise isolated and susceptible), please check in on them. Offer to do their grocery and pharmacy shopping, or to drive them to appointments for which they would otherwise rely on public transport. Think creatively.  

And let us pray to our dear Father in heaven for all those who are suffering from Coronavirus and other illnesses. May we know only health and healing.

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