March 16, 2020
Dear Westwood Kehilla Family,
Good Morning! This morning greets us with more changes in the world and more questions. Bars, restaurants, and eateries are only open for takeout. The municipal government is making its efforts to legislate social distancing. Some of our members have been asked to work from home.
When I woke up this morning, I was notified that someone who prayed with us on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is in the ICU because of the Corona Virus. Although, he was initially diagnosed with pneumonia, they have confirmed that he did test positive for the virus.
Please daven for Sion ben Flora .
This is the first of my Daily Refreshing Messages . I offer some hope from King David. In this morning’s services we recited a verse that we recite every day. Today it has more meaning and offers more hope than ever:
Psalms 146: 5
אַשְׁרֵ֗י שֶׁ֚קל יַֽעֲקֹ֣ב בְּעֶזְר֑וֹ שִׂבְר֖וֹ עַל־ה׳ אֱלֹקיו
Praiseworthy is he in whose help is the God of Jacob;
his hope is in the Lord his God.
Praiseworthy is he in whose help is the God of Jacob, for the Holy One, blessed be He, promised him (Gen. 28: 15): “Behold I am with you, and I shall guard You, etc., and I shall return you.” Now why is He praiseworthy? Because He made heaven and earth and the sea, and since all is His, He has the power to guard him on the sea and on dry land; but a mortal king, although he watches him on dry land, cannot watch him on the sea.
Rashi’s comment speaks to our reality. A pandemic does not differentiate between rich and poor, government official or simple subject. People all over the world are dealing with a new reality.
To where do we turn for answers? No physician, no “mortal king,” no specific person can really help us out here. The CDC has already changed their guidelines multiple times. The experts have offered different solutions during the past few weeks. Our hishtadlut [effort] is limited to washing our hands and social distancing. We pray that that be enough.
It is critical that we employ the spiritual side of the equation as well. If our mindset is one in which we are turning to Hashem as our “Hope;” then we will be calmer, and we will deal with our daily challenges with equanimity.
I close with a blessing for everyone to indeed be Hopeful and Praiseworthy!
Rabbi Avi Stewart