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  • yehoshua steinberg

A special message about the 2020 pandemic

Updated: Nov 4, 2022


My two cents on this terrible pandemic ר”ל. The Gemara in Sanhedrin says אין בן דוד בא אלא בהיסח הדעת. Normally we of course understand that to mean that “no one is thinking about the Geula.” But think about it… right now, there is virtually nothing else being reported besides this disease, and even the other stories that are communicated are all within the context of the virus. I think the word היסח, like many other words for “turning” or “diverting” like פנה , סור, נטה don’t necessarily mean to be distracted away from something, but rather they are all essentially parave, and depend on the context. Thus, וירא כי סר לראות means that Moshe turned towards the strange phenomenon of the burning bush to try to understand the deeper message. It was burning, but ironically concomitantly heralded a glimpse of the salvation to come.

Someone sent me the following pasuk in Mishlei:

משלי יח:יד – רוּחַ אִישׁ יְכַלְכֵּל מַחֲלֵהוּ וְרוּחַ נְכֵאָה מִי יִשָּׂאֶנָּה

Proverbs 18:14 – A man’s spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit, who will bear it?

The Aramaic translation of “illness” in the Targum is “Corhoni”:

רוחיה דגברא תסובר כרהניה ורוחא מככתא מן נטעיניה

Rashi – A MAN’S SPIRIT – The spirit of a mighty man does not take worry to heart, but accepts with love whatever befalls him. WILL SUSTAIN HIS ILLNESS – He does not lose his strength.

My little interpretation in terms of the current “Corhoni” virus: Hashem all at once can cause the entire world to grind to a halt – everything else has virtually disappeared. All eyes are transfixed on the breathtaking, abrupt changes to every aspect of our everyday lives. Even if we wish to, we have no resort to normal diversions such as sports and entertainment. IMHO, the most vulnerable to fall victim in this circumstance, contrary to popular opinion, are NOT the elderly and infirm, but the faithless.

If even as Divine Omnipotence stares us in the face we continue to scoff, what hope then do we have? But if we “get it” – that all avenues of היסח are slammed shut, that instead of בידור, entertainment, we are left with only בידוד, isolation, it should dawn on us that this itself is the harbinger of our great hope.

Because He Who has revealed His consummate power over the world in the form of a virus can and will bring the salvation to the faithful in an instant במהרה בימינו אמן.


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