Learning Lessons for the Future

Maintaining normalcy during these abnormal times is our goal. The schools are educating through online platforms. Many shuls are using Zoom to daven “together,” even if it’s not with a minyan. We are beginning to prepare for Pesach. Who hasn’t received numerous emails letting us know how important it is to keep a structure for ourselves and our children? Wake up at the same time every day; go to sleep at the same time. Make sure to get dressed as opposed to staying in pajamas all day. Try to get some fresh air and even squeeze in some exercise, if possible.

The leaders of the communities are stepping up to the plate. The schools are not just educating but trying to entertain as well. Giving some sense of school spirit in the absence of brick and mortar. The guidance departments are all on-call dealing with emotions ranging from boredom to fear to those going stir crazy. The memes and short videos that are being passed around are keeping our humor and taking the edge off of the otherwise stressful situation we are all in.

But our world is not the same. Pesach plans have been upended for many people. Programs canceled, travel plans not possible or sadly, grandparents that are too afraid to be with their own grandchildren for fear of getting sick. For many, milestones are celebrated in a very different way than expected. Brisim with barely a minyan. Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah acknowledged around the dining room table because the party was postponed or canceled. Weddings that are happening in backyards with immediate family only. Burials with minimal amount of people required to do the mitzvah and mourners being consoled via phone rather than the personal touch of a loving hand on the shoulder.

Then comes the Tehillim groups on behalf of those that only wish they were home bored. They are the ones struck with the virus and are feeling ill. They are the ones who are in the hospital, many in ICU, holding on to their lives, artificially breathing. They are the families of those in the hospital, hoping the virus will pass before their loved ones do. 

Then there are the amazing chesed organizations that are working overtime, helping those afflicted offering money, tele-counseling and any other services that could be done from afar. In times of trouble the best comes out in people, in us, in Klal Yisroel.

When will things get back to normal? We don’t know when. All we know is that we will return to normal eventually. But we need to make sure it’s a new normal. Let us maintain the togetherness that is occurring within families. Let us maintain the unity that is happening in communities across the globe. Let the appreciation for our institutions and their leadership live on. Let’s hold on to our new hierarchy of priorities where health and family are at the top. Let’s cherish our newfound appreciation for the ability to do mitzvot freely, to daven with a minyan and our realization that ein ‘od milvado--there is no other to rely on besides Hashem.

This, unfortunately, won’t happen on its own. Human nature is to slip back into our comfort zone, what we are used to, what was “normal.” It is our responsibility to harness the growth during this painful time and utilize all we have to make it the “new normal.”