While Standing (Six Feet Apart) on One Foot
May 6, 2020

Much to Stella’s chagrin, I have totally taken over my corner of the office with computers and audio equipment. As all of us are finding out, working from home takes up a lot of space. It is but one of the inconveniences of this lockdown. But it is an inconvenience I am willing to endure.

We are going to have to bear with this for a while longer even though so many across the country are demanding a return to normal while brandishing their guns in a protest against, what?  Death? Without being political, there is no way I am going to listen to a politician make a medical decision for me. I believe that those who want ‘to open up’ the economy are aware that that decision is based only on perceived value of goods and services. Since there are so many Americans, the death of another 100,000 or so won’t really matter. There is really no other way to understand why so many are so anxious to get out knowing they will be exposed and exposed others.

There is and has always been a place in Jewish tradition for sacrifice. Our people is built on it, to some extent. Abraham sacrificed his stability to pursue an invisible God. Moses sacrificed his life of leisure as Pharoah’s step-son to lead a people from slavery to freedom with all its accompanying tzoris. The prophets sacrificed their relatively easy lives to preach something more important. The Jewish list is endless. But in no situation did anyone ever sacrifice themselves or their family to go to the beach or get a haircut. Yes, even with social distancing and masks as the new normal people are very quickly going to stop using them and we will be here all over again.

Everyone thinks they are immune. The churches that opened a few weeks ago all thought they were immune for theological reasons. Now 30 pastors leading those congregations are dead and they infected hundreds of parishioners. When theology meets biology, biology always wins. Theology ought to be how to live a holy life, not how to bait a virus into believing it can’t hurt you.

There is a time for sacrifice. And as the new normal evolves, the sacrifice will probably be more social distancing (which is common in many mid-Eastern countries where personal space is much wider than in the West), face masks will be standard as they are in China and Japan and Korea and God knows what else will evolve. I don’t know about you but I would rather sacrifice by putting on a face mask than dying and killing others.

When the Israelites left Egypt, they were thrilled. Then, in not too much time, they kvetched for the good old days of cucumbers and watermelons that they ate in Egypt which, of course, they never did. But they were tired of this new part of their journey. They wanted respite.

We want a respite too and are pining for the time just a few months ago. We may never get to that in quite the same way. Too much has changed. But, like the Israelites, we get to the new place step by step, with each one of us part of the community. We will get there. We always have. But I want us all to get there alive.