The other night I was on the phone with a longtime friend who spent most of her life in the medical profession, whether delivering babies or caring for newborns. In a sotto voce, she told me of all the vaccinations and protection measures she had taken to prevent illness: She hardly goes anywhere, doesn’t meet anybody and avoids physical contact.
Then, a question popped into my head and out of my mouth: “Have you kissed or embraced anybody over the last year and a half?”
Her answer: “No.”
“Nobody?” I repeated.
“Do you call this living?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “I want to live.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about what she had told me. Here is a woman with a husband, children and grandchildren and she has not embraced or kissed any of them for at least 18 months. I imagine the only human pleasures allowed her are eating and television. How many other people are going through life the same way — sans love or even human contact. How many couples have been pressed into abstinence? How many young people fear getting married in the first place?
At the start of the virus, then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a statement that at the time I thought was bizarre. On March 17, 2021, Netanyahu, although acknowledging that Israelis had not been affected by the global virus, warned that this was coming and would result in death. Then he added:
“I see how family members are gathered on the sofa. It is clear to me that there is a problem in comprehension. This is not child’s play, but life and death. Keep a distance of two meters. Today, I can say, ‘Love means distance.'”
As it turned out, Netanyahu’s warning did not fall on deaf ears. The United Nations reports that Israel’s birth rate dropped by 1.47 percent in 2021, the biggest decline since 1983. [https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/ISR/israel/birth-rate] This capped a trend that began in 2019 in a country that has one of the highest birth rates in the world. The new Israeli government contains a senior minister who has called on all secular governments to stop marriage registration — whether civil or religious.
“We must cancel marriage,” Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli told TedxJaffa in November 2012. “I want to cancel the very concept of marriage.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTf8jKMGsGE&ab_channel=TEDxTalks]
This is no longer about an illness. It is about a change in society that has erased the individual, making him subservient to a growing global dictatorship that has not been seen since the 1930s, when Nazism and fascism became wildly popular among the British and American elite; when eugenics was developed as the answer to eradicate those who were or might be different; and when science eagerly became a tool for the worst instincts of mankind.
The Talmud says that a person’s actions reveal his motivation. When a person’s story keeps changing then you know he is lying. First, they told us to mask up everywhere. Then, the director-general of the Israeli Health Ministry admitted that masks worn outdoors are useless and were instituted only to keep people from taking off their masks indoors.
A few months ago, they told us we no longer needed masks indoors. Ten days later, they reported a huge increase in illness and said we need to wear our masks again. Then, the education minister said that the Health Ministry was inflating the number of those infected. Then, they told us we need a vaccination, then another, then another and now they’re preparing another. First, they said the vaccination was 95 percent effective; a few weeks later that became 39 percent.
In August 2021, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, said those who had been “vaccinated early” face increased risk of severe disease.
In other words, we are in the midst of an indefinite crackdown in the guise of a mass experiment. The real purpose of the mask is to remind us to shut up.
I write this as we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This is not the Jewish version of Jan. 1, where the band will be play “Auld lange syne” and the ball drops at midnight. The Jewish new year is a time for searching our soul and repentance. It is a time we move away from the lies of the world and toward the truth of G-d. It is a break from the news, football, stock market, politics to a mindset of holiness and love.
Although many rabbis are trying to convince us of this, there can not be any break from G-d and His commandments — ever. When the satraps of ancient Persia tried to destroy Daniel, they came up with what appeared to be a foolproof plan. The advisers would tell Emperor Cyrus that he needed to assert his rule. Their idea: For one month nobody could pray to anybody but Cyrus.
Then, the satraps placed a watch on Daniel’s apartment. They found that Daniel kept praying to G-d despite the emperor’s pronouncement. They ran to Cyrus and said his most trusted Jewish adviser flouted the sacred order of the emperor and must be thrown into the lions’ pit. Cyrus knew this was a conspiracy against Daniel but could find no way to save him. In the end, G-d saved Daniel and the lions became his friend. The emperor was ecstatic that Daniel was alive and asked his evil advisers to explain. That’s simple, they said, the lions weren’t hungry.
Okay, said Cyrus, we’ll place you in the lion’s den and see if that’s true. The satraps were consumed before they hit the ground.
What we need today more than ever is faith in G-d. That faith is not just about acknowledging G-d: Just about everybody does that. The faith is in knowing that G-d wants us to keep His commandments and believe in Him — only in Him. Faith is believing that G-d wants us to live and not die.
“To life,” we will say in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, “and not to death.”
Several years ago, I was introduced to a man in his 80s who lived in a home for the elderly near Bnei Brak. I was told he was a cousin who had survived Hitler. I was interested in his story but a woman who made the introduction warned that his memory was poor and he probably would not be able to tell me anything.
She was wrong. His memory was sharp as a razor and this is what he told me:
“It was in April of 1944 and the Germans came to our town in the Carpathian Mountains,” the elderly man said in a soft voice. “They told us to pack up and report to the train station of our town. They said they would take us to a better place, with food and jobs.
“I remember talking to my friend the night before we were supposed to leave. My parents and everybody else were ready. My friend and I were skeptical: Are we to believe that the Germans would feed and care for us when we knew what had happened in Poland and Russia. At that moment, we decided to leave town and walk south toward the border. I was 15 years old. Eventually, we made it to the Land of Israel. All of our families perished in Auschwitz.”