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beyond the bubble

03/26/2020 10:07:44 AM


Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

When called upon to fight an enemy in a conventional war, we are shown how to shoot a gun. Drive a tank. Parachute from a plane. Dig a fox hole and avoid land mines. We put our lives at risk, but that is what we do when the enemy is at our gate. There will be blood, but that is what we do in defense of our homeland and in defense of our principles. We do what we must even as every moment in combat could become our yahrzeit.

Today we are at war and called upon to fight an enemy, invisible and lethal. But it is a different kind of adversary that cannot be repelled with West Point tactics nor outmaneuvered by Clausewitzian strategies. We are all on the front lines. We are all soldiers. We are all at risk. But there is a difference that is empowering, demands no skill on the range and reaches into the best part of our humanity. We are all warriors fighting COVID-19 and there is much we can do. The physicians and the scientists, the first responders and the politicians are doing their thing in the macro. But we, dwelling in the micro, have a role to play that is salvational.
Most reading this have been shaken by recent events but unless fatally infected will survive. There will be food on our tables. Roofs over our heads. Bills will be paid. Our portfolios have been decimated but in time will recover. We self-isolate, but have Kindles and Netflix, board games and back yards. And so, what is our duty? Our moral obligation? We are to be there for the vulnerable who have been responsible citizens but face destitution and tragedy through no fault of their own. Our holy obligation. Order, take-out, pick up curbside and tip generously. Keep the cleaning lady on the payroll. Buy gift cards. Keep the yard service coming monthly and pine straw now. Shop the Moms and Pops and local businesses online. Pre-purchase wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, birthday gifts, simcha gifts.
I admire the wealthy who despite a collapsing economy are doing what they can for the poor souls who have suddenly lost their incomes. I pray rachmanus flow from landlords and creditors, bankers and CEOs to all those innocent victims who within weeks face undeserved poverty. Patriotism today is not Normandy, but the multiplier effect of generosity. A hole under the seat of a minimum wager will sink both the boat and the captain.
Stay healthy everyone and stay safe.
Fri, April 3 2020 9 Nisan 5780