For most of us, our time and attention this week is focused on the evolving realities of the Coronavirus, and how it is effecting our daily lives, our near-future plans, and the health and safety of our loved ones.
Clearly inconveniences and disappointments, some of them very real, are right next to feelings of acute concern, and even fear. For many of us, appropriate social distancing and organizational caution are necessary steps to take to be as protected as we are able to be.
As a rabbi, and as a Jew, my authentic response (in addition to trying to be ‘smart’ about exposure) is to turn to prayer.
The mistake that many make is to automatically hear the word ‘prayer’ and dismiss it as an idiom for ‘doing nothing’. To the contrary, I mean ‘prayer’ as an active, intentional attempt to express myself as being in relationship with The Divine.
The famous adage from World War II is that there are “no atheists in the foxholes,” meaning, that when things are tough, people are more able (more open?) to believe in God and in prayer.
Clearly Coronavirus has us seeking shelter and ducking for cover from its spread, and the threats it poses to the most vulnerable among us.
Our Friday night Shabbat service features the prayer Haskeivenu, which asks God’s protection over us “against enemies, illness, war, famine and sorrow.” Most of the time we gaze over these words, even as we say them. I give credit to our sages who included this prayer into our liturgy, which we now lionize in our time of need.
May we all be protected under God’s sukhat shalom, shelter of peace, as we move through these next few weeks and months, together.
May our government and our institutions have the courage to make the right decisions to preserve us.
And may you, and your family, our entire Temple Emanu-El community, and people from across the world be safe and healthy.
Wash your hands… then pray.
P.S.- if you feel more comfortable streaming any of our Shabbat services in our Sanctuary, please feel free to do so by clicking HERE