Torah Guidance As We Face the Coronavirus Challenges
A. First, as we have previously stated, if you need my assistance, please let me know. I have already begun phoning members of the congregation, but getting to everyone will take time. My first priority is the elderly and those who are ill. If you can offer a service, please let me know, so I can share it with our members.
B. Our weekday minyanim were suspended, but the prayers themselves remain for us. In the weekday Amidah, two prayers, the 8th and 9th of the middle 13, are juxtaposed -- the prayer for healing and the prayer for a prosperous year. The coronavirus -- its actuality and its potential to harm us physically -- is also linked to our material security and wellbeing. That is why the government is working on both fronts and why the news emphasizes both.
8th: "Heal us, O Lord, and we will be healed, save us and we will be saved -- for You are our praise. And send a complete healing (refu'ah sh'leimah) to all who are struck, for God, King, and faithful and compassionate healer are You."
9th: Bless, our Lord God, this year for us and all of the produce for good, and send dew and rain for berachah over the surface of the ground, and satisfy us with Your goodness, and bless our years like the good years."
C. A few notes from the news:
1. The number of reported cases in the United States is likely to increase dramatically. On one hand, that is due to contact with carriers; on the other, it is because more testing is being conducted as the kits are produced and shipped and used.
2. The coronavirus does remain on surfaces. So we should use sanitary wipes, especially in public. Groceries often provide these wipes near the shopping carts. On the other hand, although the scientists have not yet determined conclusively how long the virus remains on surfaces, experts say that it is unlikely to be contagious for more than a few hours.
3. Israel, by the way, as of this moment has 427 reported cases per The Jerusalem Post, but no deaths.
4. The markets are volatile. Some may depend upon their investments each month or so; others have long-term investments. Speak to your financial advisors.
5. The economic impact is real and will likely last well after the health crisis abates. But we have survived many crises in the past -- wars, economic changes, and health issues -- HIV, Polio. Of course, serious harm took place. But we met the challenges and endured and even thrived. So will we get past this.
6. The governments, federal, state, and local, are taking significant steps to deal with both the health and the financial crisis. They will make errors because we are human and no one can know all that needs to be done and exactly what is the best solution. Be kind. No one is perfect. It is easier to criticize than to have to make the decisions. There will be plenty of time for a look afterwards. This is what happened after the Great Depression in the 1930's, after 9/11, etc. This is a time to be kinder.