After a year in which we’ve personally felt a little bit of the Shi’abud Mitzraim—the bondage of Egypt—by way of the Pandemic—Pesach this year has an added meaning, bringing the Exodus a little closer to our own experience.
I am a product of a chareidi education and greatly value the chareidi lifestyle. But since the beginning of the pandemic, the behavior of much of the chareidi community has put me in an impossible position. Violent mobs of so-called chareidim bring all of our people into danger by refusing to wear masks, violating the instructions of the government which is trying to save lives, and by physically attacking anyone who attempts to enforce the rules. The Chillul Hashem—the desecration of God’s name—is beyond description.
The prophets had a universal message, far beyond the Jewish people. Their calls to aid the poor, widows and orphans, and the promise of the coming of the Messianic age were meant for the whole world. The State of Israel is itself the greatest proof that prophecy is slowly coming alive again. Judaism has been handed an opportunity to restore its full capacity, including its redemptive message, to heal the world and end the amputation of the best part of itself.
Is the failure of many parts of the Chareidi community to observe the coronavirus regulations a symptom of a deeper underlying problem? Is a spiritual malaise lurking behind their behavior? I believe we must approach this pandemic from a global perspective – far beyond the Jewish community itself.
The Coronavirus has once more confronted us with the absence of God in modern times. This absence is often seen as the cause for much secularism. No longer, it is argued, are there enough indications for God’s interference in the national and private affairs of mankind. Is there another way to look at this seeming absence? Might we find God in silence?