Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
CORONA’s Wake-Up Call
Published: Monday, March 23, 2020 09:53:42 PM
Number of views: 1676

The Rambam in Hilchot Taanit informs us that times of great distress and suffering, like we are now experiencing, are times for introspection. G‑d wants us to reflect and think about how to become a better person. This Coronavirus is telling us that there are two areas where we should improve ourselves: The value of quality family time and the pain of loneliness.

This mandatory quarantine of family reminds us where our true source of strength lies. Sitting in our rooms, cut off from the rest of the world, forces us to undergo a process of self‑examination; but what values are truly important to us? Not our careers or financial success, but values of spirit, faith and family.

The Coronavirus that has put millions of people into isolation reminds us that there are people who are always socially isolated. Do we pay attention to those people who suffer from constant loneliness, who return to an empty apartment day after day? These lonely people who have no family, those who are home alone waiting for someone to give them a friendly hello, do we hear their voice and feel their pain? Perhaps this virus that forces us to become lonely is a wake-up call to remember all the lonely people.

Loneliness can be painful, but it is also easy to alleviate with a friendly smile, a kind word, a cheerful greeting or a phone call. If each of us remembers one lonely person and reaches out to that person by inviting them to a Shabbat meal (after the crisis is over) can make a huge contribution to light up one’s life as Debbie Boone sang: YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE.

Perhaps the Coronavirus and the loneliness that has been imposed on us gives us a taste of what loneliness really feels like. We miss our social encounters that we are accustomed to. This disease gives us a wonderful opportunity to lessen the pain of lonely people because we’re all in this together.

This week’s parsha is VAYIKRA, and we know that the parsha always speaks to Current Events. Vayikra means G‑d calls out to each and every one of us! Reach out and touch one lonely person and bring a little joy and sunshine into their lonely lives. This is G‑d’s message to each and every one of us in this week’s parsha.

In the merit of this great Mitzvah, our prayers will be answered and we will overcome this deadly disease in peace and in health.

But what do we do in the meantime? As the Prophet states, in the Dawn of the Messianic Era, “Go, My People, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you, hide for a while until the wrath and PLAGUE has passed.” (Isaiah 26:20)

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