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Parshah Bo

01/07/2022 03:22:47 PM


Rabbi Hearshen

Happy secular new year to everyone. As Jews, we are always cognizant of the sanctity of time and so, while 2022 is not the Jewish new year, it’s special to see we have witnessed another milestone in the passage of time. Last week on Shabbat we read Parashat Va’era and learned of the first seven of the 10 plagues that were brought upon Egypt to help liberate us from our lives of slavery. This week, in Parashat Bo, we learn of the last three plagues. They are Locusts, Darkness and the Death of the Firstborn. All of these plagues were awful and all of them caused Pharaoh to give up and allow us to leave.

Plagues come in all shapes and sizes. Often times we’ll think of things that plague us individually that other people don’t consider to be severe or even something that causes them distress. Since March of 2020, there is little doubt that all of us have felt the burden of a plague called COVID19. This plague has had the same effect on us as the locusts in that it has caused us great financial and productivity losses. It has had the effect of darkness on us in that we’ve had numerous times where we could not leave our houses and where we failed to see those around us or their needs. And it’s had the awful effect of the death of the firstborn in that I’m certain almost everyone has been affected through knowing someone who has died or been seriously ill from this virus.

It’s a plague and it’s one that’s again showing its ugly face. We were each reveling in the joy that came with the receding of the virus and the Delta variant. Each of us began to feel a sense of normalcy being reclaimed. Each of us began to feel a sense of being able to sigh a breath of relief that we could resume our normal lives to some degree. Then with great force we’ve seen all of those visions and hopes taken from our hands.

There is one major difference between the plagues of the Torah and the illnesses that we confront today: medicine and mitigation methods. The Divine plagues the Egyptians were subjected to were something humankind could not handle or deflect. They were a punishment that needed to be endured and that needed to run their course. Illnesses such as COVID are not the same thing. Judaism is a religion that demands we heal ourselves and others. We are commanded to live by the commandments and not to die by them. We are commanded to heed the advice of the medical professionals and to do things that will help heal through their guidance. COVID is not a Divine plague because we’ve been given the gift of medical professionals who have worked hard to find ways through which we can turn the corner of this pandemic. It is a sacred obligation to be vaccinated because it doesn’t only help protect ourselves from catastrophic illnesses, but it also helps to prevent the spread to the vulnerable and to other people. Just this week the FDA and the CDC have approved the booster shots for kids 12 – 15. Their advice is to get a booster if you are eligible.

The Jewish people have endured struggles too numerous to count. We have come out on the other side and been able to build better lives because of our commitment to a brighter tomorrow in spite of the darkness of yesterday. We will find a way as a community to move forward no matter how long it takes. We will get past this latest hurdle so long as we work together.

Sun, May 22 2022 21 Iyyar 5782