Footsteps During Covid-19

Here is a New Yorker cartoon this week by Emily Flake that caught my eye:

“And there is where I complied with social-distancing guidelines.”

A few years ago I also played with the Mary Stevenson 1936 classic Footsteps for Parshat VaYishlach, this week’s Torah portion. Here is my Orthodox take on it:

One night I dreamed I was walking along a path on a pristine beach. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes the path was well worn, other times it seemed that I took the path less traveled, and still yet other times I had blazed my own trail. What bothered me was that I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see that the otherwise clear path was muddled and unclear. So I cried aloud, “What about the promise that if I followed the path, it would always guide my way. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has no clear path in the sand. Why, when I needed guidance most, I was left alone with no direction?”
And then I was quiet and I heard a still small voice reply, “The years when you could not see a path is when we wrestled, we are always together Yisrael.”

As we see in our Torah portion. The very nature of the nation of Yisrael is to struggle and wrestle with God. It is clear that the Jewish community thrives in our coming together. We even find divinity in our having close human contact. But, that does not mean that we should disregard health concerns for religious expression. As Orthodox Jews, we must put the supreme law of preservation of life before the Supreme Court. Anything other then complying with social-distancing guidelines would be off the path of Halacha.

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