BY RABBI MOSHE WEISBLUM
We are living in a world of uncertainty. Some of you may experience these dark times with a feeling of insecurity as if you’re skydiving at night without a parachute.
I can tell you from experience that no matter how brave you are, taking flight is kind of scary, especially at night, when you’re uncertain if your parachute will open on time or at all. The process of letting go and giving in occurs in stages.
Picture yourself on an airplane about to leap, waiting for the moment when you’ll either be pushed out or told to jump. Next, you’re up in the air, meeting the night sky. It’s completely dark and you’re waiting with trepidation for your parachute to open. Finally, it opens and you begin your journey to the ground, just hoping to land properly.
I’m using the experience of skydiving – and the feelings of weightlessness, fear and faith that come with it – as a metaphor for how people are navigating the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and their fear of the unknown.
It’s all a matter of perspective, though. Think of the signs you sometimes see on storefronts saying “Closed for Renovations.” This sort of sign doesn’t normally give us pause; we simply understand that the owner wants to make improvements to his shop and after the changes have been made, the store will be reopened again to the public.
Unfortunately, we are living in a world that has temporarily closed down. There is a lot of darkness – hatred, bigotry, pollution and animal cruelty – and there is much that needs to be improved.
A figurative allegory my help me convey this better. Imagine that the children in your family don’t behave the way they should. As a parent, you try to give your kids food, shelter and every material comfort.
In spite of your efforts, you see them fighting against each other. You try to convince them to be better, but sadly they keep hurting each other. They become selfish, caring only about themselves, and despite your repeated warnings, there is no change.
At your wit’s end, you turn the light off on their shenanigans. The darkness takes them by surprise, even frightens them a little. They can no longer fight against each other and don’t even try. And when the darkness lingers, they start to feel desperate. Some of your children begin crying and others need help.
Out of the blue, you watch your children show up for one another in their time of need. One brother starts helping the sister that he never talked to before. One child starts doing things independently for the first time and little by little they each start to improve their actions.
Eventually, remorseful and reformed, your children cry out to you begging, “Please! We need the lights on.”
Only then, when you realize your kids really have changed for better, do you turn the lights on again.
My dear friends, we are living in a world of self-destruction. People are extremely egocentric. Many only care to gain more power, more wealth and more control over others. The world pollution, the hatred and the lack of value for human lives have turned horrendous.
Yet, by the same token, in these dark times, positive opportunities present themselves. Because things have ground to a halt, airplanes are no longer polluting the air, different institutions have taken steps to improve and people as a whole have been forced to recognize the needs of others.
Total strangers are coming out of nowhere to help those in need, regardless of their political opinions, religious beliefs or race. Perhaps this is all a message from our creator to band together and love one another.
The virus is still an enigma, something we couldn’t have known about or prepared for and the authorities are still struggling with it – but there is one thing we can control about the situation: how we react to it.
Maybe it’s time for people to internalize that the message of the pandemic is of a spiritual nature. Maybe it’s time for us to take inventory of our achievements and capabilities, individually and collectively. Because if there’s one thing that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has taught us, it’s that our world desperately needs repair.
In order for the darkness to become light and the parachute to open and provide us with a safe landing, we must learn to treat each other in a more respectful manner across the world – and that includes nature and animals. Remember, people and animals are all products of the creator, no matter who or what they are.
Yes, it is currently a stressful time but it’s also an opportunity like no other – the chance for us to remember to do our part to make our world a better place to live in.
Let us all pray together for healing, love and peace around the world. May it happen soon, and may we see redemption speedily in our days. Amen.