When you put your hand on a burning stove, it hurts and you immediately pull your hand away. The pain is obviously not a pleasant experience. But, at the same time, we recognize that the pain you experience was actually a gift. From this burn, we learn that G-d does not want us to press our flesh against burning metal. to be careful around literal and metaphorical flames.
With this in mind, an obvious, relevant question is, What does the Coronavirus teach us? What is G-d trying to tell us? Which of our behaviors is G-d trying to amend?
- Arrogance – Years ago, we knew that pandemics were a reality. Months ago, we knew that the Coronavirus was a reality. Nonetheless, the leaders of countries throughout the world, ignored the innumerable Coronavirus warnings. And few countries ignored the warnings more than the United States. Our governmental leaders, especially the POTUS, did not acknowledge the severity of this virus. And, as a consequence, Americans are suffering and dying in ways that other countries who were less arrogant (e.g. South Korea) are not suffering and dying.
- Self-Centeredness – One can take numerous actions to protect oneself from contracting the Coronavirus. But the best actions one can take to stop the spread of the Coronavirus involves not actions to stop one’s self from receiving the virus but one giving the Coronavirus to someone else. We wear masks to protect ourselves from receiving the virus. But, more so, we wear a mask to protect others from receiving the virus from us. The primary protection from the Coronavirus is protecting others.
- Greed – Despite blatant indicators that Americans cannot conduct business as usual, so many Americans want to conduct business as usual. And, even now, the overwhelming preoccupation for Americans, even though we are watching Americans die from this virus in large numbers, is, When can we get back to work? A mindset that is arrogant, self-centered, and, above all, wrought with greed.
- Pesach-to-Shavuous – The Coronavirus is connected to Pesach and Shavuous. The day after Purim, the day when people start preparing for Pesach, the Coronavirus was officially on our radars in a real way. People started isolating. And, as we approach Pesach, it is clear that the Coronavirus will still be part of our lives during the days of Shavuous. On Pesach, G-d took us out of Egypt. Forty-nine days later, on Shavuous, G-d gave us the Torah at Har Sinai. As the Yom Tovim approach, one cannot separate the Coronavirus from Pesach and the build-up to Shavuos.
It appears that, between Pesach and Shavuous, G-d wants us to minimize our arrogance, our self-centeredness, and our greed, our focus on money. We currently have a president who personifies arrogance, self-centeredness, and greed. A president who puts himself and his wealth above most anyone and everything else. A president that frum Jews voted for in large numbers. We do not know if G-d wants us to do tshuva for voting for our current POTUS. But it seems clear that G-d wants us to do tshuva for behaving like our current POTUS.