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The Possible Purim Connection To The Coronavirus

The Possible Purim Connection To The Coronavirus


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Every day in the news it feels like our world is repeatedly being turned upside-down. Travel restrictions followed by orders to self-quarantine. The name of the culprit: the Coronavirus – “corona” meaning “crown.” It was named this because of its physical structure, but I think we can learn a great deal more from its name.

Right now in the United States, and certainly in Israel, there is incredible turmoil with regard to leadership. Elections. Division. Scandal. More elections (in Israel). Even in the UK, we have news of royals abdicating their roles. On the news, people fret that if the leader of their choice does not come into power, their country will fall apart…In truth, we are reminded that only God wears the Crown. He is in charge of our world from the big items down to tiny particles that we cannot even see with our naked eye.

Just take that in. Tiny, tiny viruses which are nanometers in size are disrupting our seemingly stable world… and wait…they are shaped like crowns.

On the holiday of Purim, we read Megillat Esther, and we are reminded that Esther’s name comes from the word “hidden.” Not once is God’s name mentioned directly in the Megilla. Furthermore, the Sages explain that every time the Megilla says “HaMelech”- “The King,” it is a veiled reference to God.  The reason for this is because the story of Purim is one that teaches us that God’s presence in our history is masked and hidden. World history unfolds and, at first glance, one can explain events according to politics, science, and the like. Our job, however, as members of the Jewish people, is to find God in history — to understand natural phenomena and to simultaneously see world events through spiritual lenses. To understand that God pulls ALL of the strings of our lives from behind the scenes.

Interestingly, Australians are now dealing with the after-effects of one of the greatest forces of nature- a cyclone. Pouring down rain on western and northern Australia, heavy winds and rain caused significant damage…What is the name of that cyclone?…“Esther.” You read that right. The cyclone’s name is apropos to Purim, and it too, comes from the Hebrew word which means “hidden.” Is this chosen name a mere coincidence or is there something more to be gleaned?

The message, the timing is clear.

Hashem is in charge.

We need to remind ourselves of this in our lives every day. God alone keeps our lives afloat.  Every aspect- our health our jobs, our children, our sense of peace, our success, and the list just keeps on going.

Right now, with the spread of the Coronavirus, as human beings do in times of crisis, we seek more information. The more information we have the more in control we feel and the more that information helps inform our decisions. But let’s not spend all of our days merely collecting more information. Let’s DO something to combat Coronavirus on a spiritual level. No, it involves no fanfare, and no it is not the vaccine, but doing extra acts of kindness and spending just a few more minutes in our prayer— those things make a huge difference in our world as well.

We don’t know why God is sending this plague to mankind but there is something we CAN do- Let’s use this as an opportunity to spread meaningful prayer, kindness and Torah learning.

Wishing us all good health and safety at this precarious time.

#letsmakePrayerContagious

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Dr. Ariella Agatstein

Dr. Ariella Agatstein is a dynamic Jewish educator and guest lecturer who has been involved in Jewish education for the past 17 years. After teaching in schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and serving as Assistant Principal of Yeshivat Yavneh is Los Angeles, Ariella, her husband and children moved to Israel. She currently teaches Tanach as well as advanced education courses in the Matan Center in Jerusalem.

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