06 May A TIME FOR CHANGE
According to the Mishna, the ten plagues we read about in the Haggadah at Passover lasted one year. That year, so long ago, was a tumultuous time of spiritual crisis, trial and transformation. So, this time we are experiencing, with the Coronavirus, is a difficult period of time that can also be viewed spiritually as an opportunity for spiritual growth — growing closer to God and each other.
Additionally, the meaning of the word corona can be seen as relating to a season of growing and harvesting spiritually. Corona (which means “crown”) is “Keter” in Hebrew. Keter in Kabbalah is Chochma, Binah, and Da’at: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge, which are also considered the highest attributes of God’s emanation in this physical world. In Gematria (Jewish numerology), “Keter” is 620 which consists of 613 for the Torah mitzvot observed by the Jewish people and the 7 Noachide Laws given to all the nations. In other words, Keter (God’s Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding) are for all humanity and are to be received and reflected by all of us.
Therefore, now is a time, a season, represented by the “corona” in coronavirus, for us all to receive and
reflect upon the crown — our thinking in relation to God’s Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. This season of the coronavirus presents us with a choice: we can choose to go within our mind and heart to replace fear with Love — replace the fear of the coronavirus with the Love of God. So, how can we do this? Our Jewish traditions, as outlined by Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein in “Judaism: A Presentation of Its Essence and a Suggestion for Its Preservation” provides some helpful direction:
- Devotion: Since we are being set apart from much of our usual daily routine, we should set aside time every day for experiencing the nearness and presence of God.
– Read spiritual literature, the Psalms and the Torah, for example.
– Meditate on what you have read.
– Discuss it with family and friends.
– Pray, using a Siddur.
– Pray freely.
– Listen to spiritual music. I love Nigguns and Jewish music like Eitan Katz and Shlomo Carlebach. (For something different, try Gospel of Kayne West.)
- Ethics: Reaching out to our neighbors in need.
– Staying connected to those alone,
– To those who are worried or stressed,
– To those who are sick,
– To those who need uplifting.
– Create a community that meets and checks in online.
– Send food, packages, etc. to those in need.
- Virtue: Our inner work of peace, tranquility, and optimism.
– The Shechinah (Presence or Spirit of God) does not rest on one in gloom.
– We are to share the Joy, Peace, and Love of God with one another.
– This is our opportunity to be a Light and pass it on to others.
– As we give and share our Joy, Peace, and Love, it grows stronger; but we have to kindle it within.
Therefore, one way of interpreting this season of the coronavirus is that it represents an opportunity for all people to connect with God and each other through spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that we acquire by spiritual study, prayer, meditation, and loving deeds to family and friends.
By Rabbi Scott Matous