The lockdown was extended yesterday and this reminded Yoel Shpitz of something he heard from Rav Adin Steinsaltz:
"Rav Adin once said: There are people who get a headache or experience any sort of trouble and immediately announce that they are on strike. It's not that they walk around with a sign that reads 'On Strike,' but they take a step backwards. They wait until their distress is over.
Meanwhile, they don't pray, they don't study, and they try not to do any other serious thing. Now, what comes of this? The person says: 'I am ready to study, or pray, I am ready to run around and do things, but only in a sterile environment, when there will not be any problems or troubles or headaches'.
It is important to tell people like these that life here on planet earth is not built according to this formula. Life is full of troubles and headaches. If we wait for some relief until conditions are optimal, we will wait our entire lives and not do anything. In other words, we must get moving – now, as is, exactly as we are.
To begin to get down to work and to move. Not to delay for a more convenient time that will probably never come. If the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted just Torah, prayers, and 'sterile' good deeds, he could command millions of angels to do the work. But he created people with headaches because he wanted our prayer, our study, and our good deeds – together with our headaches and all our troubles.
I was reminded yesterday of these words and I thought: now, in the current extended lockdown, I want to say: I will be a human being, I promise, but only after this annoying lockdown is over. And then I am reminded of Rav Adin and say: If you wait for some relief to come, then you will need to wait until you are 120. I hear him whispering in my ear: This lockdown, your lockdown, is what God wants. Get moving."
Step 1: Learn about our lives from the Parasha:
Merav Sever writes the following about this week's Torah portion -- about our lives:
If they would have told us during the month of Adar a year ago that nearly 12 months later we would be in a lockdown, we would have despaired.
If my customers had known during the first lockdown that there would be a second and a third, they would have sunk into a deep depression. They would not have ordered merchandise and would have closed down their businesses at once. They would have stopped fighting and thrown up their hands.
If moms had known on the first of September when the school year began that up until report cards were given at the end of the semester there would be hardly any classroom learning, they would have snapped, been filled with rage, and lost control.
If I had known at the age of 20 that up until now I would remain single, I would not have prayed and I would not have had much hope or desire for living. I would not have gone to work and probably would have fallen by the wayside.
If the nation of Israel had known that two hundred years of slavery in Egypt would precede the Exodus we read about in this week's Torah portion, perhaps they would have completely assimilated, having lost their identity and their hope.
What gives us room to breathe, to desire, to believe, to be patient, to be brave, to initiate, to heal -- is lack of knowledge. And that's what gives us hope. Perhaps the next moment a solution will arrive. Perhaps a breakthrough will come. Perhaps we will soon be redeemed.
But true redemption will come when we agree not to take control by force, when we recognize we do not know everything, and when we just loosen our grip.
True redemption of our souls will come not from the desire to ask when, but rather from living, growing, doing good, and waiting. 'And even if he (the Messiah) may tarry, I will anticipate his arrival every day.'"
• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin