Most of the time, I feel uncomfortable writing a whole post about my personal life.
You never know how people will interpret (or misinterpret) your descriptions, whether they'll like you less or more than before, ayin hara, and so on.
And because it's personal, there are always things left out to prevent it from being TOO personal...so anyway, no one gets the whole story.
But not taking the c0vid vaccine produced unexpected & interesting results for us & I feel compelled to share the story as it has unraveled so far.
(Please also note I tend to seek out the spiritual perspective on everything, so that's the angle this post focuses on.)
Get Vaxxed or Don't Come Back
During the whole on-again off-again shutdown earlier this year, my husband continued learning in a local beit midrash and worked sporadically (whenever he could be considered "an essential worker").
At one point, we received announcements from his kollel with polite declarations for a tav yarok (the "green passport" which indicates you received the required vaccinations against the virus).
Both of us wary of this brand-new medical invention at that time (and before rumors came out of its more sinister ingredients), neither of us wanted my husband to take the injection.
No non-vaccinated persons allowed on the premises.
They claimed they acted so under the auspices of both following the official health regulations (which always sounds responsible) & of following "the Gedolei HaDor"—even though it increasingly looks like only 2 or 3 leading rabbanim say to get vaxxed while a whole long list of others say you should not.
(See the list here: yes-another-copy-of-the-list-of-rabbanim-plus-personal-knowledge-regarding-the-psakim-of-rav-kook-the-amshinover-rebbe.html. One should also differentiate between a genuine talmid chacham of daas Torah & a smart guy with rabbinical ordination.)
And not all the people making the decisions were charedi, so you can't even blame their charediness because they are also chardal (charedi-dati-leumi)—it's a mixed kollel where every serious avreich is invited to learn.
Anyway, this understandably threw my husband into a quandary.
He did not want the injection (or injections, as they case may be), but felt compelled.
He kept asking me what I thought & kept telling him what I thought (which is this: don't do it).
He really did not want to leave this kollel. Where else could he go?
I also explained that, conspiracy theories aside, I felt it irresponsible & irrational to force people to take an injection when they don't even know if it works.
(As everyone knows, it has not been tested long-term. How could it be? It has not existed for very long. Also, we do not know its effects—positive or negative—or whether it actually protects against the virus! And it seems that it d̶o̶e̶s̶ doesn't protect against the virus. Why else would they keep adding booster shots?)
The people heading the kollel are extremely knowledgeable & intelligent rabbis of all stripes.
Why were they taking this irresponsible & illogical approach?
(In fact, I say "they," but I'm not sure if it was a group decision or just the decision of the kollel administrator, and everyone's going along with it because of the government regulations & the couple of Gadolim who hold by it.)
Surprise! A New Improved Kollel
(The former kollel required around an hour of traveling. He can get to this new kollel in around 10 minutes.)
Shockingly yet happily, the new kollel also paid a bit more. (It's such a humble place, it doesn't seem like it could provide much in the way of stipend. But it does, comparatively.)
Furthermore, my husband could come home to eat a home-cooked meal (lunch is the main hot meal of the day in Israel)—much healthier than the dining hall meals he ate at the old kollel.
And he could also take his afternoon siesta in his own bed.
But the real boon of the new kollel was the more spiritual atmosphere.
The Rosh Kollel is a gentle, humble, sweet talmid chacham.
He lives according to simple emunah & bitachon (which is why he does not insist on the tav yarok).
The other men there are devoted learners who take their avodat Hashem very seriously. My husband enjoyed & still enjoys their fine character and the atmosphere their sincerity cultivates.
After a couple of days there, my husband explained that he felt uncomfortable leaving his cell phone on its silent vibration mode, so he turned it off completely. (He saw no cell phones by the other avrechim there.)
By the end of his first week, he started leaving the cell phone at home.
"I just don't feel right having it there at all," he explained.
It's a kosher-certified Hadran cell phone.
Intriguingly, no one made any comment or faces about my husband's cell phone.
They're very nice guys there.
But the level of ruchniut there simply imbued my husband with the feeling that NO cell phone with an Internet connection (no matter how kosher) has a place within that kollel.
It's a pure beit midrash of yesteryear.
So his even his nifty Hadran cell phone suddenly felt tameh (impure).
This impressed me so much because that's how we should be improving our world: atmosphere.
Just by being our holy, authentic selves, we change the atmosphere & influence others positively.
No need for even the most constructive criticism or rebuke.
Just the influence of being around people who are truly spiritual.
He has been there for several months now and continues to be nurtured by both the atmosphere & high-level Torah learning.
The Big Question (a rhetorical one)
Why, if the injection is such good hishtadlut & recommended by the Gadolei HaDor, did my husband experience such an elevation in ALL aspects of his life by being mosser nefesh to NOT take the injection?
Do you see what I'm saying?
I don't even mean so much the higher stipend he receives now (though that's nice too).
As an aside, money can be a blessing or a curse, as can lack of money.
We all know stories of people who left a life of crime to become frum, and experienced a massive loss of money soon after—clearly atonement for their previous sins.
So I wouldn't base a sign from God just on that.
In addition, my husband's health improved. He lost unhealthy weight by eating the better food at home & feels better in general.
He's happier—less stressed out by such a short commute & by immersing himself in Torah learning with such fine people & such a tzaddik for a Rosh Kollel.
But the main thing is the SPIRITUAL improvement in his life.
His Torah-learning improved & the atmosphere of the kollel impacted him positively in several ways (the detachment from his cell phone is only one example).
As far as the exemplary middot & genuine piety of the men learning in this kollel, this is the best kollel my husband ever encountered.
Talk about finding "good neighbors"!
If the c0vid vax really is the hishtadlut that Hashem wants (which is what some rabbis are indicating by their exhortations to take it), then why has my husband's SPIRITUAL & RELIGIOUS life improved SO MUCH by taking such drastic steps to AVOID the injection?
My husband's level of ruchniut & limud Torah shot up BECAUSE he was mosser nefesh to AVOID the injection.
Hashem guided my husband to a beautiful place of learning, an ideal kollel brimming with beautiful Torah influence.
Doesn't it seem like Hashem davka REWARDED us for NOT taking the injection?
Final Food for Thought
But because the SPIRITUAL & RELIGIOUS aspect of our lives improved so much (and totally unexpectedly!)...because one of the most important mitzvot in the world—my husband's limud Torah—improved so much & so beautifully...
...I can't help feeling this definitely means something.
(And remember, this has continued for several months now; it's not the excitement of starting something new.)
Hashem is granting us bracha in davka the TORAH ASPECT of our lives.
NONE of this would have happened had my husband submitted to being vaxxed.
So this has been going through my mind for months. I'm living it.
And I finally decided to share it because I can't help thinking it really does mean something.