One of the most annoying things about Covid19 is that it just hasn’t taken its leave of us as yet. Did you realize that months, not weeks, would pass, without life returning to normal? Just two weeks ago, when my husband and I went out (YES OUT!! WHAT A DELIGHT!) to Machaneh Yehudah Market (which was permitted according to the instructions given by the Ministry of Health), we were duly masked and gloved. When we entered the shuk on Thursday one of the locals looked at the half empty lanes of the marketplace that usually can be navigated only by native Israel’s and folks from Brooklyn. It had taken on an almost Mid-Western patina of civility. He looked at us and said, “That’s it, Corona is finished”. Within a few days, it was permitted to go to shul (with restrictions), to send you kids to school, and to eat out if that’s your thing.
Then we heard that numbers of people infected are rising. Whether it’s because you really need more isolation to get rid of it once and for all, or whether there are other factors involved with we are not yet familiar, one question still needs to be answered; where is the demarcation line separating your trust in the One who created you (and every microbe that will ever exist), and your responsibility in taking care of yourself, not just in this situation but in all situations.
Is taking an attitude of “what will be will be for the best” the right way to go, or should you perhaps not be so dismissive of the voice that demands your taking the steering wheel into your own hands?
POSSIBLITY ONE: LET GO
YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE.
Ramban maintains that in the case of one of Avraham’s tests, his failure (Ramban’s words, not mine) to let go and surrender to Hashem affects us still today. The imprint on the future that most of us would see as negative is indelible.
Just stand in Avraham’s shoes for a moment. Avraham and Sarah left Ur Kasim (which is in today’s Iraq) after he had faced being burned to death and rescued from that fate miraculously. They then headed out to Haran, where he and Sara succeeded beyond anything they could have dreamed of. Thousands of people came under their influence, and began to believe in one God. At that point, almost inexplicably, Hashem told him to leave everything behind; He also told him that the result of making the choice would be children, money, fame, and the key to giving blessings to others. He left with Sara, Lot, and their followers, and when they arrived in Israel, not only didn’t they experience the blessings that they had every reason to anticipate, they actually found themselves starving. They ultimately only had two choices; go or stay.
Avraham chose to leave. Ramban tells you that this was a terrible mistake. He should have trusted that Hashem can cover His checks… This is important for us, because the patriarchs and matriarchs related to their future generations the way a foundation relates to a building. A flaw in the foundation that is barely visible at floor level, can result in the Leaning Tower of Pisa! You can only give what you have, and Avraham and Sara didn’t have the absolute faith in Hashem that could have changed things for their descendants. “The deeds of the patriarchs are a sign for their children” Ramban famously quotes. They left Egypt in the face of a famine, and so did their children two generations later when Yaakov and his family had to leave Israel because they were starving. Avraham and Sara found themselves under the Egyptian oppression when Sara was taken by force, and their descendants experience oppression of slavery in the same country, but much much more severely. Had he had the faith to remain in Israel, Ramban concludes, none of this would be necessary.
That means, in plain language, that Avraham should have stayed in Eretz Yisrael and trusted that the One who told him to go there, would save him from the famine.
POSSIBLITY TWO: BE RESPONSIBLE
YOU MAY NOT TAKE THE GIFT OF HAVING CHOICES LIGHTLY
The Torah tells you to guard your life, “Very much”. Don’t endanger yourself or take your life lightly. It is a precious and irreplaceable gift. Shmuel, the second greatest prophet of all times, was told by Hashem to anoint David (later to be King David) as king. There was only one problem. The reigning king, Shaul, had no intent of surrendering his crown, and was doing everything human (and some would argue inhumanely) possible to prevent David from usurping the throne. As far as he was concerned, Israel already had a king, namely himself, (Shaul) and the job of reigning monarch was not one with openings. Shmuel didn’t do what would have been most simple. He didn’t just go and hope for the best. He told Hashem. “What will be? If Shaul finds out he’ll kill me’ The response was for him to take a wagon and tell whatever troops he comes into contact with that he is headed towards David’s fathers’ home and was coming to offer sacrifices. He was not rebuked by Hashem, for not having sufficient trust in Him to just tell the truth and risk Shaul’s uncontrollable anger., nor is there any talk of this having brought about anything dire in future generations. He was acting responsibly; he said whatever he had to say to avoid endangering himself. He was pro-active.
It seems that the two stories are two opposing ways of seeing the unrelenting war between the voice that tells you that the way you want to go is in trusting completely and sincerely, and the answering voice says that you are obligated to be responsible enough to treat your life as the precious gift that is.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The spies that Moshe sent, were our example of making the wrong kind of choice. They were not just doing what they had to do in order to figure the best way to move forward. That would have been good. Instead they editorialized the entire 40 days of their journey to death. It stopped being a practical approach to entering Israel, and became an anxiety ridden journey away from Hashem. If they had just been less reluctant to trust Hashem’s explicit promise to be on their side, things would have been very very different.
NOW FOR YOU
Your soul was sent down to this world for the sake of doing a mission. If you are doing whatever you have to do (find a shidduch, earn a living, deal with difficult people etc), with integrity, and then ONCE YOU HAVE DONE YOUR PART step quietly back. Move away from obsessive flashbacks to trust.
HAVE only simchah, faith, and nachas.