As I sat down to write, I wondered: “What I could say to wrap up 2021, and provide some guidance as we approach 2022? Covid is once again exploding, and I find myself at a bit of a loss.”
Last week in “Jewish Wisdom for Coping with a Pandemic,” I asked people to share how they were coping. It was nice to both share where I am, and to hear how we all are doing. You can see a video recording here. Overall people are doing ok, but some like me are struggling to some degree.
I had an intuition to look to the Torah for inspiration, so I opened the Mussar Torah Commentary, edited by Rabbi Barry Block, and read this week’s chapter, written by Rabbi Joshua Mikutis. Rabbi Mikutis highlights that the part of the story where the people did not listen to Moses because “their spirits were crushed by cruel bondage.” (Exodus 6:9). AHHHH – that phrase resonated with me. While my spirits are not exactly crushed, I am feeling a bit fatalistic about the Omicron surge. I read on.
In the story, Moses’ initial efforts to bring liberation did not start well – Pharaoh answered his first request with scorn and further oppression The Israelites now had to make bricks without straw, and some were mad at Moses. When Moses turned to God for help, help was provided in the form of his brother Aaron who spoke for him. Whether or not you would turn to the Divinity, the principle remains – it is critical to ask for help. With Aaron’s assistance, Moses carried on with his work, and ultimately our people were freed.
The pandemic is a long haul struggle. As we head into 2022, we have choices. We can allow ourselves to be crushed by the unfairness and unpredictability of the pandemic, or we can reach out to others to help us get through. And, we should not underestimate the mental health toll of this continued stress and isolation. The pandemic gives us opportunities for both self care, and to be there for others.
I can acknowledge the feelings of loss, without getting buried by worry. And most importantly, I will be turning to the people in my life, and to my spiritual practice, to help me get through. Because at the end of the day, it is about carrying on. We still get only one life, and I’d like to make this one the best I can.
I’m curious, is there a role for spirituality in your life, and is it helping you cope with the pandemic? Please reply and let me know. As always, I’ll answer every comment.