Near us lives a family with 6 or 7 children at home.
The father was exposed to coronavirus at work and received a positive result upon being tested for coronavirus. That was before Pesach.
He suffered lower back pain, and says that at night sometimes he wakes up with breathing difficulties. (It is not clear to me whether his breathing difficulties only at night are psychosomatic or not.) This I heard from my husband, who spoke with him directly.
He may have had low-grade fever; not sure.
His teenage son also tested positive for coronavirus, but never exhibited even one symptom – not even a slight fever. No coughing. Nothing. (This I heard from my teenage son, and also myself, as the conversation was conducted via speakerphone.)
His teenage son has since been tested several times more and each time, tested negative.
The man's 5-year-old daughter also tested positive for coronavirus. (This I heard from both my husband and my son.) Not sure if she's still positive, but she exhibited symptoms similar to a light flu virus: some fever and generally not feeling great.
Everyone else in the family has tested negative, despite being cooped up together in an apartment for weeks now.
(Baruch Hashem, they've relatives & neighbors who've been doing their shopping for them.)
This is just one example of what we've seen reported so far:
Coronavirus tends to be fatal in those who are over 70 AND/OR suffering previous medical issues that weaken their immunity.
THEY need to be protected; we should help them!
But as for the rest of us...?
Having said that, I suspect there are things we don't yet know about coronavirus.
Hashem isn't unleashing full negative judgement against us.
But based on what has been reported, it is not the terrifyingly threatening plague as portrayed UNLESS you belong to a vulnerable group – as is always the case with any disease, including the flu.
Heck, I once knew someone with an immune deficiency who needed to be very careful not to catch a cold because that could kill him. (Eventually, he died at around age 28.)
Having said that, it's of great concern that some of our most highly respected religious leaders having been dying davka of coronavirus in their advanced age (and yes, also with underlying medical issues).
But they've been felled davka by coronavirus.
As already discussed on this blog and in numerous other articles, blogs, and Torah lectures, that is a significant message from Hashem.
And now in Eretz Yisrael, they've started lifting the suffocating strictures and apparently plan to gradually relax strictures even more.
The question is why?
And no, I don't believe for a minute it has to do with health.
As written in an An Analysis of the Current Pandemic, the quarantines anywhere never made sense for 2 reasons:
- The quarantines were really neither strict enough nor enduring enough to effectively prevent infection (and anyway, the vulnerable people generally had the sense to put themselves in a genuinely effective quarantine). It's almost as the quarantine was for show.
- The disease, based on what's reported, isn't nearly as fatal or as dangerous as the response indicates. Again, that was discussed in An Analysis of the Current Pandemic. But with Israel's death count under 1% and nearly all of them (or literally all of them) over 70 AND/OR suffering underlying medical issues, a nationwide quarantine over every last citizen is really not warranted and can even cause more problems than it solves.
I already wrote about parallels of these strictures and the spiritual messages:
- The Paradox of the Present Pandemic
- An Analysis of the Current Pandemic (toward the end under the section "A Clear Act of Hashem")
Many others also have discussed this in articles and Torah lectures.
So why are the strictures being relaxed (at least in Eretz Yisrael and a few other places)?
In fact, many other places that have been hit hard are talking about relaxing their strictures.
Either way, it all defies logic.
Why is that?
We're on the Right Path, But We're Not Out of the Woods Yet
In other words: teshuvah.
For example, we've just come out of Pesach – a major mitzvah bouquet.
This alone bequeathed massive zechuyot for Am Yisrael: keeping the laws of yom tov, eating the right shiurim of matzah and everything else, reading the Haggadah, singing praises to Hashem, remembering His Kindnesses...big, beautiful mitzvot.
And many people were keeping Pesach with mesirut nefesh: Leil HaSeder in less-than-ideal conditions, whether they needed to conduct it all alone or with immediate family but without their beloved parents or grandparents, and so on.
People did not extend strenuous efforts on chol hamo'ed in all sorts of nonsensical unspiritual pursuits. Sure, some people wasted their time. (I'm sure not all the men are learning Torah as much as they could in quarantine, for example.) But it's not the same as spending lots of money and effort to go to the circus or the zoo. (And in the interest of full disclosure: We usually go to the zoo on chol hamo'ed Sukkot or Pesach. Probably we shouldn't. But we do. But now we didn't. And we were fine!)
People were davening in minyanim with mesirut nefesh, whether outside or on their porches. And there was achdut. People sometimes joined a minyan with different groups of Jews with whom they don't necessarily daven usually.
Many people have been turning to Torah shiurim. Websites like Torahanytime.com have reported site difficulties from such heavy usage – YAY! That's the kind of problem that reflects well on us!
In fact, a lot of people have been davening more. People have been learning more. There are opportunities for unique chessed that people have been undertaking.
And even if people were getting really impatient with their family members, so many people were at least trying to make the best of it. Even if they failed and had their snapping-turtle moments, they were trying.
There were also moments in which they overcame their lesser impulses; they also had moments of trial in which they succeeded.
In quarantine, so many problems with tsniyut (modesty & personal dignity) simply cease to exist! Ta-dah!
Think of all the hanky-panky & flirting & hirhurim that simply DIDN'T happen because it COULDN'T.
Shemirat Shabbat greatly expanded during this time.
So there was both teshuvah & an imposed inability to sin.
Either way, there has been improvement.
In fact, so many people have done so many good things, it's impossible to list it all.
I hope we will keep it up and push even further in our teshuvah.
(Here, I'm hoping for myself just as much as for anyone else.)
There are lessons learned, and more to do, and hopefully, we will take it all to heart.
We are certainly not out of the woods yet, but seeing things as from Hashem, this seems to be a positive sign that Hashem is accepting our teshuvah and tefillot.
In fact, this bears noting: In His Great Mercy & Compassion, Hashem brought about quarantines and a whole truckload of difficulties and sorrows via a disease that is actually not so harmful or fatal.
In other words, it's not Ebola. It's not the Black Plague.
But it could be, chas v'shalom.
We don't want to need Hashem to give us a stronger message.
Right now, we're doing better.
And again, I hope so much that we (me!) can not only keep this positive momentum going, but just fly with it even higher.