Coincidence and the Corona plague
Coincidence and the Corona plague

Since no one seems to be talking about it, I volunteer to be the party-pooper. Is it a coincidence that the coronavirus has taken front stage in the world media at the very same time that we are reading about the plagues in Egypt in the weekly Torah portion? Is the world-threatening epidemic any different than the plagues of lice, flies, and pestilence sent by Hashem to make His Presence known to the world?

This week, a photograph of an ongoing storm of locusts in Africa made the rounds of the Internet. They turned the sky black, just like in the Torah. If Hashem can send locusts, He can send corona germs too.

Our Sages teach that even the path of a leaf as it falls from a tree is directed by Hashem. All the more so regarding a virus which is spreading panic and fear from continent to continent across the globe. At the moment, the virus is spreading slowly, but if the Hand of Hashem decides to raise up the lever of the corona-meter, then the virus could burst out of control, Heaven forbid.

You don’t have to be a Hollywood screenwriter to create a scenario. Already, airline travel between countries is being suspended. Soon, all international shipping and commerce could cease. Oil deliveries could end; cars abandoned on highways; cities throughout the northern hemisphere turned to ice. We could easily be heading for a remake of the movie, “The Day the World Stood Still.”

Right now, we are faced with a low-level, Divine-warning and, for some reason, no one is willing to recognize its Source. Scientists can frantically search for an effective vaccination, and for a medicine that will cure the afflicted, and we hope and pray that they succeed in their work, but we should not forget that beyond whatever bacterial mutation they may discover, it is the Word of Hashem which has created this bug.

Why now?

The main thing is that we recognize that God is Master of the World, not Putin, Trump, or the madmen in Teheran.
I won’t attempt to claim that the virus has appeared because of this reason or that. There is no shortage of moral shortcomings and global transgressions in the world that need to be corrected. The main thing is that we recognize that God is Master of the World, not Putin, Trump, or the madmen in Teheran. On the most basic level, it wouldn’t hurt if mankind paid more attention to Hashem, and placed less importance on celebs, sports stars, politicians, Wall Street, and Instagram. 

It is however interesting to note that the Corona Plague has broken out, not only during our Shabbat readings of the plagues in Egypt, but also during the weeks of “Shovavim.” For readers unfamiliar with the term, “Shovavim” is the six-week period beginning with the Torah portion of “Shmot,” known to be, according to the Kabbalah and Hasidic literature, the most propitious time to rectify transgressions of a moral nature, known as blemishes to the Brit. 

In the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai states, “There is nothing in the world that so arouses the zealousness of HaKadosh Baruch Hu as the sin of transgressing the Brit, as is said, “And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge my Brit” (Vayikra, 26:25).

And the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, grandfather of the Baba Sali, explains that all of the terrible tribulations mentioned in the Torah portion, “Bechukotai,” stem from immorality. “Both the Rishonim (early Rabbinical authorities) and Achronim (later Rabbinical authorities) have stated that the majority of man’s sufferings, whether through pestilence, war, or famine result from transgressions to the Brit.” 

Finally, is it also coincidental that the word “corona” is associated with kingship? The coronavirus bacteria resembles a crown, reminding the eye peering through the microscope that there is a knowledge far vaster than what science can reveal.

May the Master of the World have mercy.