COVID-19: a Message from Rabbi Yolkut
AS THINGS CURRENTLY STAND ON JUNE 18, 2020...
Minyanim are now open without registration. There is special physically distant seating and all participants are required to wear a mask.
For those who have risk factors they should discuss with their doctors and me as to whether they should return. Anyone who is at risk or is uncomfortable with returning is on firm halachic ground to daven in their homes.
Notwithstanding the difficulty, for the duration of the current crisis our Medical Response Committee strongly recommends:
No play dates for children or Shabbos and Yom Tov meal invitations. While this difficult step comes at a significant social cost, it is all part of the efforts we must put in l'maan hatzibur (for the sake of the greater community). We will be revisiting our recommendations as the situation changes. (For specific situations for those who live otherwise alone, please consult me or one of our doctos directly.)
At the same time, we have to be creative in terms of finding alternate ways of embracing each other. To return to the metaphor of Rav Amital’s shirt, we need to express all of our wonderful chesed instincts into the berachos that Hashem has given us in our generation of various forms of electronic communication! Make check-in calls, offer neighbors and particularly to the elderly to pick up groceries. I will continue to update as we develop ways of sharing our chesed.
LIFE CYCLE EVENTS
As they present themselves, life cycle events will be very different. For those with be’h upcoming births, please be in touch with me directly regarding appropriate protocols for bris milah and baby namings. Similarly, in the event of deaths rachmana l’tzlan (Hashem should shield us), please be in touch regarding funeral and shiva protocols.
SUPPORTING LOCAL KOSHER ESTABLISHMENTS
Our community’s kosher establishments--- first and foremost Murray Avenue Kosher, but all of the restaurants and caterers--- are trying very hard to meet the needs of the moment.
If it is economically reasonable, please patronize these services for yourself, or to send a meal to others as an act of chesed.
Please remember to be forgiving and kind of these establishments, workers and other shoppers. Everyone is harried and figuring this out. Smiling, thanking, and kind words can go so far.
This is a perfect time to increase our daily learning. My two favorite resources with a staggering amount of amazing text and audio material from my two Alma Maters can be found at:
“We do not wonder about the ineffable ways of the Holy One, but instead ponder the paths man must take when evil leaps up at him. We ask not about the reason for evil and its purpose, but rather about its rectification and uplifting. How should a man react in a time of distress? “- Rav Soloveitchik, Lonely Man of Faith
This is a time of teshuva. When we are confronted by virus and fear, it should refocus us on ultimate issues and think about what really matters in life, and how to be better Jews and better human beings.
HAKARAS HATOV AND CHIZUK
Many of us are stressed and worried. Two suggestions of areas that might help: cultivating our sense of hakaras ha-tov, of gratitude to Hashem for all the brachos that we DO have, and of strengthening our sense of hope and faith that Hashem runs the world and cares for us. That does not mean that we do not have real issues, or that we understand the ways of Hashem, but does provide the reassurance that we do not live in vertigo, but as part of a plan.
קוה אל ה' חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה'
Hope in Hashem, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in Hashem.
We will get through this. We will look for ways to help each other through this. We will daven, we will study Torah, we will give tzedakah. We will celebrate Shabbos. . . . We will roll with the punches and strengthen our bitachon (faith).
HaKadosh Baruch Hu should bless all of us, Klal Yisrael, the United States and the World, with good health and peace of mind.
Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorach, Gut Shabbos,
Rabbi Daniel Yolkut