The number reached the thousands.
Some people suffered an usually harsh bout of it, frightened by constricted breathing or even needing a ventilator for a couple of days.
Out of the thousands, hardly any deaths occurred. I remember 2 for sure, but maybe it was 5?
They were all around 80 & in poor health (seemed like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.). One I knew & missed him.
Needless to say, every life is precious & we need to take special precautions around vulnerable people.
But in my town, this supposedly dangerous epidemic demonstrated a survival rate of close to 100%.
Yes, I noticed increased severity in some cases—more hospitalizations than the flu, more severe symptoms—but not MUCH more than any other virus going around.
(You can read more about my observations here, along with the comments:
The Most Fearful & Cautious Caught It First
It seemed that the people most afraid of the virus & sticking closest to the mandated protocols got sick first.
Meaning, the people who suffered real anxiety about the virus and were stringent with wearing masks, social distancing, going out only when necessary, learning & davening at home rather than a shul or beit midrash—they ALWAYS caught the virus. And early on too.
In contrast, those of us who lacked fear & did not obey the protocols beyond the minimum to keep us out of legal trouble...tended to be fine.
One family in our building are Eitznikim.
This means they follow Rav Shmuel Auerbach ztz"l. They automatically suspect anything the secular Israeli government does, assuming that even when the government does something good, it's probably for a secretly bad motive. (This is the halachically mandated approach when dealing with confirmed reshaim.)
They do their best to act like there is no government (except they do obey normal laws, like speed limits & crossing at the appropriate lights, no stealing or murdering or assaulting or graffiti—which they wouldn't anyway because they are very religious & follow halacha).
Their schools were open when everyone else's were closed.
They refused to wear masks as much as possible (like only if a cop was around who would penalize them).
And so on.
They were the last to catch the virus, and I'm not even sure they did. If they did, they experienced a very light case.
We also did not fear the virus & did not cling to the mandates, only following what we needed to avoid fines. One son had a confirmed case of covid-19 and simply stayed quarantined in yeshivah with all his friend also diagnosed with covid-19.
They had a great time together.
Nobody died either.
Against All Logic & Expectation
(His mother thinks it's because of the meconium he inhaled at birth combined with the choking vacuuming of his lungs immediately upon his birth. In other words, she thinks his lungs were traumatized.)
He often coughed through entire nights as a baby and as a toddler, was also prone to colds & coughs & fevers.
They tried vitamins, herbal remedies of all kinds, essential oils, a vaporizer, acupressure, the ventilator machine at the doctor's office—nothing helped.
This went on and on for the first years of his life, with him missing the equivalent of an entire month of preschool during the winter.
When covid-19 made its appearance, his mother wondered whether her son might catch a nasty case of it because he seemed so vulnerable to respiratory viruses.
Oddly, the first winter covid hit Israel, her son was LESS sick than he'd ever been. He had one phlegmy cough that lasted a few weeks—and that was it.
The next time covid went around, she gave him a couple of doses of Sambucol (a brand of elderberry syrup made with vitamin C, and some with zinc too) for the first time, and he remained healthy throughout the entire season.
In fact, she said she's astounded that davka during this covid epidemic, her son has never been healthier!
And remember, this is a kid who was born susceptible to respiratory viruses & whose illnesses NEVER responded to ANY treatment.
Did We Have Covid? We'll Never Know.
We were taking the recommended vitamins, like D3, K2, vitamin C, zinc, etc.
During that time, my husband seemed tired, then developed a low fever.
This isn't uncommon with him, that periodically he appears mildly ill, then is back to himself within a couple of days.
So I didn't think much of it, especially as he wasn't coughing or wheezing or stuffy at all.
Then I developed a mild fever and achy legs.
But we still managed just fine, each taking turns to make meals or tidy up something or care for our youngest child. (The older kids still at home managed themselves & despite constant exposure to us, remained healthy, as did the youngest—baruch Hashem, bli ayin hara.)
I considered getting tested.
But because I'm not a completely irresponsible person, I didn't want to take the bus to get to the testing center because I knew the masks are not effective and did not want to infect anyone on the bus.
After all, elderly people, babies, and other vulnerable people ride the bus.
So I considered calling for a taxi, but again, because I'm not completely irresponsible, I would tell the taxi service upfront that I suspect I'm infected with covid-19.
But then I thought, even if they would take me, is it responsible to get my germs in the taxi, knowing the passengers after me would be directly exposed? What if they're vulnerable to complications from the virus?
(To emphasize: The mandate to go out for testing when you have symptoms is irresponsible & illogical. Most Israelis do not have cars. It forces people to go out among others DAVKA when they're sick & contagious!)
So then I considered walking to the center. But it's uphill and my fever hovered around 99 degrees and my legs were achy, it was hot outside, and the mask mandate was still on. So I didn't think I could make it on foot.
My husband didn't want to get tested at all because he didn't feel any different than any other time he got sick. In fact, he felt better than during other illnesses.
We were also both of the notion that a mild fever & achy legs didn't NEED to be covid-19. After all, there are many other viruses in life.
So we didn't get tested.
As I recovered within 4 days, I lost my sense of smell.
I didn't notice at first because I never had much sense of smell.
I mostly enjoyed this lack of smell, however.
A lot of smells in life aren't so pleasant. So it was like having time off from unpleasant smells.
To experiment, I opened a bottle of vinegar and inhaled as hard as I could.
Only with intense inhaling could I vaguely smell the vinegar. Cool!
Cinnamon could also be smelled only with intense effort.
On the other hand, I burned a pot of peas because I did not smell the initial scorching.
I also sprayed too much insect repellant at mosquitoes because I could not smell it.
I also baked chicken into unappetizing dryness because my meat oven lacks a timer and could not smell the baking process (and I forgot to keep track of the time myself).
Furthermore, many foods had a bitter taste or bitter aftertaste.
But now all my senses are back to normal.
♪ Where, O Where Have My Little Antibodies Gone? Where, O Where Can They Be?♫
None. (Or so few, the results are considered negative.)
A couple of weeks ago (meaning, around 10 months since we think we might have had covid-19), I also got tested for antibodies.
None. (Or so few, the results are considered negative.)
The receptionist at the clinic, who is also a neighbor, said, "I also don't have antibodies."
"What?" I said. "But you had such a harsh case of it!"
She was one of the people who got hit hard by it, feeling awful & coughing, and then it just wouldn't leave her.
I don't remember when exactly she got infected, but I remember her at the Megillah reading on Purim, and was shocked to see her still feeling so poorly.
Yet even such a case still left her with no antibodies.
"But I got the vaccine," she said with an air of solid assurance.
She believes in the vaccine.
Look, I don't blame her.
She suffered such a harsh bout of covid, it must be frightening to think of ever getting it again.
But what I still don't understand (and I tried to research this, but came up with nothing) is how a virus that—most oddly—leaves no antibodies & therefore no immunity...how can there be a vaccine for that?
The virus itself does not produce immunity, so how can a vaccine made from the virus produce immunity?
Why are Things So Unpredictable?
We're seeing such lack of predictability & reliability during this covid era.
As mentioned above, we saw people who took precautions get sick while people who took little to no precautions either remained healthy or experienced a very light case of sickness.
Some vulnerable people with a low immune system remained healthy while robust people got infected.
Weather is going to extremes in many places (the unprecedented heat wave in rainy Seattle, the unseasonal & unexpected flooding in Germany, the bizarre freeze across arid sunny Texas, etc.)
People are also changing.
The appliance repair man we trusted for 10 years suddenly turned into a cheat & a deceiver. And he was genuinely trustworthy for all these 10 years; it wasn't that we were naïve & only realized it now. He really WAS the perfect appliance repairman who could always be trusted for good work & good advice.
Alas, no more.
On the other hand, another person I deal with at times has been very difficult for years. Suddenly, this person has become a lot more pleasant with much better character. It's been months and this person has remained a new improved self.
(So there is happy unpredictability too, not just stressful unpredictability.)
Those are just a couple of examples.
Why are things getting so unpredictable?
Well, it all comes back to the spiritual reasons for this.
Rav Itamar Schwartz repeatedly explains how the world changed in 5760 (1999-2000):
In that year, the power of Amalek began to dominate the world, and it will be that way until This World ends.
We are also in the middle of the war of Gog & Magog:
...it is already going on! There have always been wars taking place in the final years of our world. But all of these wars are just the final outcome of something deeper and more internal.
All of these wars have been the result of the internal “wars” that have been taking place in the souls of people.
The war of Gog and Magog will be revealed outwardly [in our world] as it will be, and it should make no difference to a person.
If a person is busy thinking about it, he is wasting his time because he is not involving himself with priority.
[As mentioned earlier] the war of Gog and Magog has already been happening in the world.
Now that the light of the Keser has descended onto our world, along with a corresponding level of tumah (the 50th level of holiness versus the 50th level of impurity) to counter it, the world will not go back to way it was before...
...There will continue to be turbulence within the physical situation of our world, in different ways, in a cycle of progression and regression, in all kinds of forms.
But if one views the world today from an inner viewpoint, he can see it all as an outcome of the tumah in our world today Rachmana Litzlan, and the results of it are inevitable:
It is causing the world to come apart.
The light of the Keser will continue to be manifest on our world in all kinds of different ways, switching between different forms at alternating times, and it will keep being mysterious to those who see it.
Note: I quote Rav Schwartz a lot, which may give a misleading impression about him.
So it's worth noting that Rav Itamar Schwartz is against all forms of the Internet & has no connection to the Bilvavi site.
The Q&As were either recorded during a class given by Rav Schwartz, then transcribed and translated into English, or they are questions people wrote in, and his verbal answer recorded.
None of that is FOR the website. It's just something he has done for years (i.e., give classes & answer questions).
The Bilvavi site was produced by a student of Rav Schwartz (a student who seems to be running it from a Netfree Internet center, and not from his home), and the site is specifically meant to make Rav Schwartz's shiurim & ideas available as kiruv for completely secular people.
I do not fit that description, but I obviously use the site anyway. I can't resist!
The point is that Rav Schwartz has no more connection with the Bilvavi website than Rav Kanievsky does with all the websites that post videos & quotes of him.
See the Disclaimer here: