Do you recall when it was a life goal to spend more time with your spouse and children? Remember when you used to stay too late at the office? When did you last count down the days until you might take a vacation or to be home for holidays? Before our lives were turned upside down, time away from your family was a sad reality of our fast-paced world…until now.
Some people are experiencing too much of a good thing. Being safely stuck inside of our homes for days, weeks, and even months is an entirely new experience. Finding ways to keep children of various ages entertained and out of each other’s hair is a new struggle. Even with the opportunities available online for activities, lessons, video calls, and the like, it is not quite the same thing as going away with the family. Besides, does everyone have a separate device for each family member? How can each kid attend different Zoom meetings for their class when there are only one or two smartphones, tablets, or personal computers in the house (if they have access to any at all)?
To further complicate matters, all of this is set against a backdrop of global upheaval and widespread anxiety. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the future. Pundits and politicians, commentators and clergy, gurus and grumblers, everyone seems to have an opinion about the situation. In truth only Hashem knows what it all means and how it will all turn out. It is easy to tell people to have faith, yet much harder to set aside worry completely.
We have all seen stories of selfless heroes and selfish villains, those who give to others, and those who profit from the crisis. There are health care workers and volunteers who risk their lives (and their families) every single day to fight on the front lines of this global challenge. There are selfless, everyday people who try to do anything they can to support these efforts, from making donations to cheering their appreciation in the streets. There are billionaires who step up to help provide whatever it will take to save as many lives as possible. There are corporations who are racing to meet the need for equipment, supplies, tests, and vaccines.
Then there are opportunists who hoard desperately needed medical supplies in the hopes of raking in obscene markups, even as people are dying. Where is their humanity? What kind of chillul Hashem is made when law enforcement must conduct a raid to crack down on price gouging?
We are all in this together. This is an occasion to do for others, to provide relief for the many people in crisis. When our grandchildren ask us if we remember the great pandemic of 2020, will we look back in pride or in shame for our actions or inaction? There are so many chessed organizations who are providing incredible services on an astounding scale. Even if you can not personally make a significant donation, the smallest amount is very helpful when we all unite together and pitch in. No single organization can do this on their own, especially without help. Even if you usually ignore the majority of charity email requests, this is the time to step up and give anything you can. If everyone contributes a dollar or ten, the sheer volume of contributions will help meet even the greatest need.
There is a reason we have been placed in this unique situation, together with our loved ones. Nothing like this has ever happened in our lifetimes. Take a moment to think about that. Take stock of your own priorities. When this is over, we can not go back to life as usual. We can each bring more meaning into our lives by proactively thinking about who we are, who we want to be, and how grateful we must feel for every kindness, large and small. Thank Hashem for everything we have. We must transform our tefillos and infuse them with meaning. Focus on how our lives can be filled with purpose as we look forward to a speedy end to all suffering in this final galus.