Rabbi Eli Hecht
Rabbi Eli Hecht Courtesy

When bad things happen in the world we start to wonder, are the happenings by chance or are they planned by G-d? Simply stated, are all things predestined and calculated by G-d, negating free will, or are we active partners in a massive plan through free will?

Maimonides, the great philosopher from the 12th Century, says that we are forbidden to say that things just happen. When observing a sad event we are to learn a lesson and to find a cause for the tragedy. We need to take steps, like a detective looking for clues that lead to answers. He says it is sadistic to say things happen by chance.

Our mother earth has changed in a big way. This year has been a turbulent one and, if nothing happens by chance, we wonder why. Do we have a right to ask about G-d’s plans? I believe that we must ask. Faith is not diminished when we ask. Faith is the reason why we ask. Because we believe in the Almighty G-d, who creates and sustains the world, we correctly search for an answer.

I received a call from one of my former students. He told me that he has stopped believing in G-d. When I asked why he said “Because of the pandemic. How can there be such an uncaring G-d? I’d rather not believe” he said. His argument was seemingly justifiable. I told him that the G-d he doesn’t believe in is not the same G-d that I believe in. I then went on to explain that G-d cares a lot about what happens here on earth. Our Rabbis teach us that G-d is in pain waiting for the world to change for the better.

We are constantly searching for a cure and the virus keeps on changing its course. We find a cure for one part of the disease and then a short while later a new strain pops up. It seems that Covid-19 has many cousins. Scientists find cures and new strains and mutations appear.

I believe we ought to spend more time looking for a spiritual cause and cure and this must be done with zealousness and fortitude.

Just as we need to unite for a cure, we need a united answer to what caused the pandemic. When observing the spread of the virus we quickly realize an important factor. The virus can be spread anywhere. It affects children, seniors, the rich and the poor, Democrats and Republicans, the famous and the infamous, third world countries and powerful countries. It is indiscriminate and unforgiving, killing and crippling an entire civilization.

The Corona Virus is colorblind and doesn’t care about wealth or poverty. It strikes everybody.
There must be a message here and we must find it for everyone’s safety. True, some people are acting in a positive manner but there is a glaring issue that is being ignored and that is, why do some people have access to the vaccine while others do not? Can we really say that the older or richer person deserves better than the rest? On the other side of the coin can we say that the older generation have lived their life, therefore we should give the vaccine to the youngsters, sacrificing the older for the younger?

Somehow people have made rules and then cheat on them. There are very altruistic people and at the same time very selfish ones. The pandemic brings out the best in people and, unfortunately, the worst.

Maybe that is part of the answer as to why this is happening. We need to be respectful, sensitive and caring for all mankind regardless of color, race or creed. Financial wealth means nothing. The Corona Virus is colorblind and doesn’t care about wealth or poverty. It strikes everybody.

It may be that this is the message. We need to care and share and that will bring a cure that will help stop the pandemic at its roots.

We need to find the soul of mankind and reach out and save the world from the terrible pandemic. It is only because we believe in G-d that we have so many questions. So let’s hope that all religious leaders unite for a day of prayer and help save the world.

If all the religious leadership got together and unified by praying to G-d I believe it would help stabilize and stop the destruction of the world through the virus.

Rav Eli Hecht is Director and Founder of Chabad of South Bay, Lomita California, former President Rabbinical Council of California, and Vice President of the Rabbinical Alliance of America.