We all know the story: A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon, a man in a rowboat came by and shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and He is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on.
The same thing happened when the motorboat and the helicopter came to save him. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in You but You didn’t save me, You let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To this, God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
As I was reading my Megilla on Purim, I noticed that there was a crown on top of every column, and it reminded me of the coronavirus that is affecting the four corners of the world. One of the derivations of the name Purim comes from the word pur, or lot, the lot that Haman used to identify the date for the destruction of the Jews. Purim reinforces our faith that nothing happens by coincidence and God is controlling everything, both good and bad (even though as Jews we believe even bad is good).
This brings me to the coronavirus that is causing global hysteria as the world looks for ways to contain it. This also comes from God. We do not understand why this virus has been brought as a plague, nor do we understand what good can come from this.
Can this be just another message to the Jews? In the U.S.A., the country’s hottest hotspot is New Rochelle, New York, a vibrant Orthodox Jewish community. There are about 1,000 cases in the U.S.A, 212 in New York State, 121 of those are from Westchester County, many of those from New Rochelle. Coronavirus was found in West Hempstead and Monsey. Even in New Jersey, where the number is much lower, the hotspots seem to be in Bergen and Middlesex counties, also centers of large Orthodox Jewish populations. Will other Jewish towns also become hot spots? We hope not, but who knows God’s plan? On the other hand, in Israel there are 100 cases, and almost every one of them has been traced to someone coming from outside of the country.
God sent us the miracle of the State of Israel, the miracle of all the wars that Israel has been involved in, Israel becoming the light to all nations through the miracles of the start up nation. Since many of us are not listening to these signs, maybe God is unleashing anti-Semitism and the coronavirus to help us make the right decision. Are we going to ignore them like the man who drowned and wondered why he was not saved? Or are we going to open our eyes and recognize all the signs that God has sent us?
May God bring a refuah to all who have been stricken by this disease and quickly eliminate the coronavirus.
Paul D. Bloom