Torah For Today: Pandemic super spreaders

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Torah For Today: Pandemic super spreaders

Rabbi Daniel Friedman takes a topical issue and delves into Jewish texts for a response


There’s been too much negative energy in the air in recent months with talk of Covid-19 and “superspreaders” passing the virus on to large numbers of people. While the Torah might not refer to this specifically, it does guide us on becoming superspreaders in another way – of positivity.

To avoid the virus spread, we’ve been told to physically distance. But if we want to spread positivity, we must be socially closer. Practically, that means looking out for one another’s welfare and always being the first to reach out.

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai prided himself on going into the marketplace each day and being the first to greet everyone – friend or stranger, Jew or gentile.

Second, to avoid spread, we wear masks. To spread positivity, we must remove our masks, albeit metaphorically.

Often, we spend years in relationships with neighbours, colleagues, or even loved ones, wearing a mask, not daring to express our true feelings or inquire about the other person.

Queen Esther was the most powerful woman in Persia and yet she was powerless to save her people, until she removed her mask and revealed herself to Ahasuerus.

It’s time to remove our masks and be honest in our relationships.

Third, we know handwashing stops the spread. It’s time to also stop washing our hands… of difficult people and challenging situations.

It’s tempting to avoid dealing with complicated matters, but a superspreader of positivity is never afraid to face issues requiring resolution.

God chose Abraham because he “walked before Me”. He didn’t wait for the others to come to the table. He always made the first move.

Fourth, we now have the ‘rule of six’. In Hebrew, six is the letter vav, meaning ‘and’, which implies connectivity. To be a positivity spreader, you must strive to connect people with each other. Always be on the lookout to make shidduchim, help jobseekers, and connect young and old for companionship.

Ecclesiastes, read on Succot, states (7:14), “God created this one corresponding to that one.”

Every negative force in this world has an equally powerful positive force.

If you can become a superspreader of coronavirus simply by walking into a room and speaking, you can certainly become a superspreader of positivity simply by going about your daily business.

Rabbi Daniel Friedman serves Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue

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