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Updates, Siyyum Bechorim, and Words from the Prophets

Good afternoon,

At least two people from Traditional have read my emails, because they correctly corrected me -- the progression was not "geometric," but "exponential." Either I missed that class or my teachers have "a lot of 'splainin' to do, Lucy."

So far, I have not heard of anyone in the congregation having been infected, and the worst I heard was that some out-of-area relatives may have been exposed to someone and were quarantined.

A. News: As I write, total cases on the planet now exceed 3/4 million.

US: total reported coronavirus cases: 164,785; deaths from coronavirus: 3,173

Israel: 4,831 reported cases, and now 19 reported deaths.

World: 803,650 reported cases, and now 39,033 reported deaths.

The updates of those infected by coronavirus is not intended to frighten, although a little "fear" is warranted to remind people that this is serious. The main point is to have a record, so that we see the progression and the regression (hopefully soon), and so that we can measure it by the other pandemics the world has faced. Perspective can calm us.

Here are a few words I saw on the news that I think are important.

Dr Marty Makary -- Johns Hopkins Professor of Public Health -- even though infection rates are dropping, we should not put too much stock in the numbers yet. A bit of good news: hygiene and social distances will save lives in the future, and people will take this more seriously, including regarding the flu.

Dr Nicole Sapphire -- NYC Physician -- (also her husband is a Neurosurgeon) -- Less than 15% of people with the infection will need to be hospitalized; about 1/4 of those, will need an ICU and potentially ventilators -- the short supply of ventilators is due to the longer duration of coronavirus (14 days) and international suppliers are stopping the exporting of ventilators, keeping them for their own countries. Social distancing is working and having an effect.

B. Siyyum Bechorim -- Concluding Talmud which will override the Fast of the First Born -- will take place on Wednesday morning April 8 via Zoom. Study only, no online service. I will set it for 9 AM -- unless I hear objections from those who are going to work. Please let me know as it is usually at 7:30 AM, but under the circumstances that most people are not working, I am trying to let them sleep a little longer.

C. Prophets: Many of the prophets foretold or experienced terrible times -- war, devastation of lives, injury and suffering, significant property damage, deep and wide social dislocation, and mass exile. They also left us with inspiring words (with which some may be familiar): Of course, most make God and Torah the centerpiece. They also include visions for peace, prosperity, and morality.

Isaiah I Chapter 2 (and also Micah Chapter 4)

2:2 In the days to come,

The Mount of the Lord’s House

Shall stand firm above the mountains

And tower above the hills;

And all the nations

Shall gaze on it with joy.

3 And the many peoples shall go and say:


Let us go up to the Mount of the Lord,

To the House of the God of Jacob;

That He may instruct us in His ways,

And that we may walk in His paths.”

For תורה / Torah / instruction shall come forth from Zion,

The Word of the Lord from Yerushalayim.

4 Thus He will judge among the nations

And arbitrate for the many peoples,

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

And their spears into pruning hooks;

Nation shall not take up sword against nation;

They shall never again know war.

Isaiah Chapter 4

2 In that day,

The radiance of the Lord

Will lend beauty and glory,

And the splendor of the land

[will give] dignity and majesty,

To the survivors of Israel.

3 And those who remain in Zion

And are left in Yerushalayim --

All who are inscribed for life in Yerushalayim -- Shall be called holy.

Amos Chapter 8

11 A time is coming -- declares my Lord God -- when I will send a famine upon the land; not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for the hearing of the words of the Lord …

Amos Chapter 11

11 In that day,

I will set up again the fallen booth of David:

I will mend its breaches and set up its ruins anew,

I will build it firm as in the days of old.

12 ... When the mountains shall drip wine

And all the hills shall wave [with grain],

14 I will restore My people Israel.

They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them;

They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine;

They shall till gardens and eat their fruits.

15 And I will plant them upon their soil,

Nevermore to be uprooted

From the soil I have given them -- said the Lord your God.

Malachi Chapter 3 -- The Haftarah on the Shabbat before Pesach (This Shabbat!)

23 Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. 24 He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents ...

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