On Monday, May 4, 2020 Dr. Daniel Gordis had a very good topic to discuss and review in conjunction with Beit Avi Chai’s Annual Pirkei Avot Series.
Topic: Consensus or Division – which is the greater danger?
Dr. Gordis asked, what can we learn from all of this on both sides with Haredim and others in our society regarding how people behaved during the Covid-19 virus?
There are many things we can learn should we be open to it from anyone’s place in the world. If we are strong in our religiosity or in the many ways in which people live their lives we should not be so afraid of being compromised, simply listening to someone else’s point of view. I thought it says we can learn from anyone in the Torah.
My points that I would like to bring out that are perplexing to me (as I am a religious Jew therefore this pains me).
Perhaps we can learn to do the following things differently so that excuses could be at a minimum especially when it comes to saving lives.
Why the Haredim were not aware of what was going on in the world at this time for lack of newspapers, smartphones, etc.
In the Torah I believe it says that we are suppose to guard our health with all our souls. ‘B’chol Naphshechem’. So wouldn’t it be irresponsible and not following the Torah on two counts – once it was known what was going on and still not following the laws of the Torah and of the land which we are required to adhere to without excuses. It’s a shame that the Ministry of Health could not come up with a small effective creative plan for the differences in our society here in Israel when it came to the issues of safeguarding our communities.
Here are some examples:
The Israeli army sends all kinds of warnings to different Arab lands warning them before it is attacked so that they can get to a safe place, in addition to telephoning the people to be aware of what is about to occur – I believe the army or the state of Israel can effectively send similar messages to the Haredi community and make them aware of what is happening in their own country. Printing out such fliers to other communities would work as well. This would not be as costly as the alternative.
Since Haredim hear the news about who died, or protests for not joining in the Israeli Army etc. why cant broadbands all over the Haredi communities be put in place as well?What about loudspeakers that Haredim use when someone dies, or keeping Shabbat?
In addition, have all the main Rabbi’s in all these communities be given the flier and news firsthand, and the governments protocol as to how to proceed and making them responsible for the news that pertains to them as well. News does spread this way in these areas.
When Dr. Gordis was mentioning ‘Makom’ as it is written as a place of prayer, a place that is contained in one premises and that perhaps things are changing nowadays as to what the word implies – perhaps when Hashem mentioned he would gather Bnei Yisroel from all the four corners of the world maybe from all four corners of the world it would be a place of ‘Makom’ to pray together in this day and age and can be acceptable Lisham Shamayim as this is what is available to us now as never before. The real place of ‘Makom’ for us to aspire to is Har Habayit but until then getting our fellow Jews together cannot be bad.
However we pray, and deem the right way for ourselves, I hope that we do it with a full heart and that Hashem answers all of our prayers soon with a more united people.