Rabbi Dov Singer, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Mekor Chaim, spoke to Arutz Sheva from the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, one of the so-called 'corona hotels' where he has been staying since being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Rabbi Singer explained that his medical condition is good and that he has no symptoms. He is currently waiting for the results of two tests. If both tests come back negative, the rabbi will have recovered from the virus and be allowed to return to his home.
The rabbi described how he felt when he first received the diagnosis. He said that he was especially disturbed by the thought that he could infect other people. "There are feelings of guilt, maybe I shouldn't go overseas, which is probably true, and maybe not talk to people even though most of the time I was without symptoms. You find out your route and suddenly you're under this scrutiny and tracking wherever you were for an entire week: at this wedding, in that place and in this store. It's a very complex and difficult feeling in addition to being sick."
When asked how his role as Rosh Yeshiva has been affected by the coronavirus, Rabbi Zinger said that this is an example where "G-d created the cure before the disease" in the form of the Zoom video-conference service, which allows teachers to conduct classes online. As a result, he and the other staff at the yeshiva been able to maintain contact between themselves and with their students in order to continue their studies through 'distance learning.'
Rabbi Singer was also asked how he replies to his students when they ask: "What does G-d want from us that he brought this epidemic upon us?" The rabbi, for his part, commented that he is "trying, not only now, not to ask the Almighty to respond immediately. We expect him to explain it to us and we are in this wonder. This question itself is the one G-d wants from us. It is important that not everyone return to the usual answers and say that this is proof of what he thought before, because then it was a waste to bother with such a big thing."
"I suppose part of the expectation of salvation is that something in the world is taken away. The ground is falling under our feet and this creates an opening to both lose confidence and develop anxieties, as well as the possibility there will be something even bigger that surprises us. After all, redemption is not something that is understood as being part of the natural order," Rabbi Singer said. "If anyone were to ask my grandfather on his way to the crematorium if his grandson could possibly live in the city of Amos the Prophet, that would not be possible in any way. G-d sometimes razes the ground and builds a new world, a better one, we hope."
Rabbi Singer noted that the outbreak struck Israel between two holidays of redemption. "In terms of timing, it seems appropriate. The Almighty made this happen between Purim and Passover. On Passover we are seated on the Seder night, we hope to sit in the regular groups, and the Seder text is the text of the news. There are plagues around, there are worries and fears. The Children of Israel left Egypt armed ... We pray that everyone comes out healthy, but surely the old world is crumbling and falling apart before our eyes."
"My strongest childhood experience is that my father, who usually didn't talk about the events that happened there, but on the Seder night. after the four glasses, he would sing 'Next year in Jerusalem the rebuilt' more intensely and boldly and remind us that we will thank G-d for leading us to good and surprising places. "