As our country faces the Coronavirus pandemic, our Jewish traditions provide many techniques and disciplines to help us deal with the crisis. In this weekly chat from self-quarantine, I would like to discuss some ways we can cope, and in doing so find comfort and hope. For despite being forced to separate, we can still find ways to come together as a community.
Acts of loving kindness in our community: Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah
One good deed Leads to another/Pirkei Avot
For so many of us, the world seems scary and frankly, turned upside-down right now. We are all glued to our various screens these days with an urgency most of us have never experienced in our lifetimes. Most of the time, I’m sure most of us are watching and listening in the hope of hearing good news. The blessed news that, “At Last! The curve is flat! We are Free!” I know that’s what I’m personally longing to hear.
Of course many of us are also finding creative ways to fight boredom and dark feelings, with “weapons” like arts and crafts, sharing humor with friends and family on social media, organizing communal singing from people’s balconies, tying white ribbons on our mailboxes, raising our flags, and a million other ways to distract and express solidarity with our families, friends, neighbors, and worldwide human family. All to defeat this invisible little monster of a virus that believes itself to be a, “king.” (You do know “corona” is Spanish for “crown,” right?)
So what I want to focus on this week is one positive aspect, one ray of light in the midst of all of this meshugas. Something that proves our human spirit can, and will win out over this microscopic wannabe ruler. All we have to do is set aside our worry and angst long enough to look around us. What you will see are the countless acts of heroism, goodness, and kindness that are taking place around the world to try and keep us safe.
From the grocery store cashiers and stock clerks working to keep us fed; to the EMTs, nurses, and doctors, working to keep us uninfected, and to save those who are infected; to the city, county, state, and federal public servants who are working to keep the lights, heat, and all the other trappings of civilization operational; and to scientists in all corners and every remote location of the world, urgently working 24/7 to discover the weakness of this novel virus, and to find the Covid-19 cure that will keep us safe in the years to come after this pandemic ends.
Many people, likely some of your friends and neighbors, are choosing to combat negative feelings by keeping busy doing acts of loving kindness whenever and wherever they can. My hope is that it will inspire YOU to do something too. It was our beloved, forever angelic Mr. Rogers who said,
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
These are the people in our community, in every community, whom I’d like to highlight today. The helpers and those who care for the helpers themselves. People have been self-organizing to help those in need and we have our own group here in Wayne who grew a small two-mom idea into something else entirely. Our own member Randi London wrote the following:
“What started out as a simple request from a nurse for cookies for her staff has turned into a community wide effort that has raised more than $50,000 in three weeks and fed well over 1,000 front line workers. They are called FLAG, which stands for Front Line Appreciation Group.… Thanks to the entire Wayne community for their support in feeding Front Line workers….it has become a nationwide effort to feed front line health care workers, while also keeping local restaurants in business…. Last weekend, 80 care packages were delivered to front line medical workers from Wayne, including flowers, free meal certificates, candy, and much more.”
Watch this heartwarming video about a frontline worker who just received a care package and a unique “thank you” message:
And our own teenager, Noah Sandler, produced the heartwarming, uplifting YouTube video below to bring forth and capture the amazing wave of “good deeds” and acts of loving kindness in our community. This video is so inspiring because it demonstrates how we can all come together to simply engage in different acts to “create good,” even when we are down, confined, and unable to live our lives the ways in which we are accustomed. As you probably tell, I was so touched by this video, and I hope you will be too:
Please join us this Friday for our Shabbat service, as usual at 7:30 pm, when Randi London will share more details about the good deeds in our community.
I believe that Mitzvah Gorerert Mitzvah—one good deed will bring another good deed (Mishnah Pirkei Avot 4:2)—thus the more we hear testimonials and watch these inspiring videos, the more we will be inspired and hopefully motivated to combat our own fears through the acts of “doing and giving.”
Wishing everyone health, health, health! L’echayim and Zei Gezunt!
Press ▶️ in the panel below to play Rabbi’s video…
How is this night different from all other nights this year?