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Invisible Enemy

Tuesday, 14 April, 2020 - 2:37 pm

My children have become accustomed to the ‘stay at home’ and ‘social distancing’ reality. My younger children – though they readily follow along – still struggle to understand why we are doing all of this. Because their grandfather contracted the disease, they have a clear reference point on how dangerous this illness is. I try to explain to them about the spread of coronavirus.

When I tell them of the dangers of crossing streets, they can see the cars zipping by and recognize the hazard. But, they don’t understand how something is so dangerous without being able to see it.

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President Trump likes to refer to the covid-19 pandemic as the Invisible Enemy.

Truthfully, the coronavirus is visible.

It’s just not visible to the naked eye.

Because, the virus is invisible to the naked eye, it’s important to err on the side of caution when dealing with a deadly disease like this. So, we social distance, we wash our hands often, we avoid unnecessary trips. Without lab testing we just don’t know for certain if we are exposed to the virus or not.

There are lots of videos being shared that demonstrate just how easily and quickly germs spread. See here, for example.

Were we privy to the coronavirus lurking on a door handle or on our very own hands, we would be more alert about the virus. But, because we would be able to more easily avoid the actual virus, we would also be more free. We would navigate the risks more confidently.

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In this week’s parsha Shemini we are taught many of the kosher laws. Contrary to popular opinion, the kosher laws were not given in order to ensure better health or hygiene. It is a divine diet that supersedes ancient and modern logic. It’s G-d’s diet.

Because it’s G-d’s diet we may struggle with observing the laws when we see little or no personal benefit. The kosher piece of beef costs more than the nonkosher piece, but doesn’t seem to have any benefit. Seafood is attractive to my stomach and maybe even my diet. Why not indulge?

When the Torah concludes the laws of kosher, it states:

“For I am the L-rd Who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your G-d. Thus, you shall be holy, because I am holy. This is the law regarding animals, birds, all living creatures that move in water and all creatures that creep on the ground, to distinguish between the pure and the impure, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.”

G-d doesn’t have a body. G-d doesn’t need to worry about calories or cholesterol. If Hashem says we should keep kosher in order to be more G-dly, then it isn’t the visible benefits we are after. It’s a spiritual exercise. We are seeking the truly invisible value in kosher food and abstaining from the truly invisible spiritual harm in nonkosher food.

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Coronavirus is deadly. I pray to Almighty G-d that this virus will end soon and all the infirm will be healed quickly.

But, I want more than that. I want to rob coronavirus of what it wants to do to me. It wants me to be oblivious to it as it tries to sneak into my body unnoticed. But, coronavirus is a fraud of sorts. It’s not truly invisible. It’s only invisible to my naked eye.

In turn, I want to be more aware of the invisible world around me. I want to be aware of the spirit that lies beneath the matter. I want to avoid invisible harm to my spirit. And, I want to spread invisible holiness all over the world, with more good deeds. And, more and more mitzvot.

Until all this invisible goodness becomes visible, with the coming of Moshiach. May it be now.

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