“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the Lord. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations.’” Keeping clean is likely to be of significance that echoes from generations ago. Getting cleansed was part of the ritual before entering the Tabernacle but seems to be relevant to us today as we face the consequences of the coronavirus. Here in Israel we, as this is written, are quite luck with some 126 identified patients having the virus and some 35 thousand people under quarantine. The numbers in some other countries are certainly alarming.
The Israel Reform Movement is taking this seriously under the leadership of Yair Lootsteen and Rabbi Gilad Kariv. We hope that we will be part of those who help in the containment of the outburst of this virus. On one hand it is necessary to obey the orders given by the lawful authorities and on the other hand to maintain the congregational and community support groups that is aware of the physical and spiritual needs of others. It is not an easy time in our lives but we can deal with it as we have a large support group that is there for us and we are there for them.
At times of distress it is easy to panic and have fears. There is nothing new about it. “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” Aaron resorts to an easy solution, “‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me’… He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” The solution is not really there but for that moment of panic it seemingly clams down the crowds. In combating the coronavirus crisis we will be successful not by panic or dismissal but rather by being serious and wise about the situation, maintaining a good standard of hygiene, following the advice of the professionals, and doing so while with care and love to others.
Shabbat Shalom and wishes for good health to all.
Reuven Marko, 13 March 2020, 18 Adar, 5780