Daniel Coleman
Contrarian and creative investor, inventor, and career coach

A theology of Jonah for the COVID era

In my previous post, I resurrected a chaplaincy consult (created by a mentor of mine) with the Biblical prophet Jonah aka Yonah who after a near-death encounter, wants to die. #Survivor’s guilt?!

Here’s a contemporary theological reflection on the consult aka verbatim from that post:

“Un pour tous, tous pour un”  – The 3 Musketeers

Jonah – a prophet – questions the value of his life and looks to death as an escape from his woes. Strands of our narrative will undoubtedly resonate with those that have attempted or been impacted by suicide.  For most of the rest of us born in the last 30 years, death and dying is primarily encountered in the abstract: through studying history and/or Torah,  or in the entertainment industry (movies, theaters etc.). We have not had to confront our own demise or that of immediate friends and family members. Until now. The COVID era has rendered each of us vulnerable and few of us can say we don’t know anyone that was affected by it. Each of us has tasted what it’s like to “walk in the valley of the shadow of death;” each of us can connect in some way with Jonah’s confusion about God’s plan for humankind and his desire to find an escape route (albeit not on a cruise line!). 

The concept of “Arvut” – all for one and one for all, has been brought home to us in a powerful way. Whether it’s donning a mask, keeping our distance, washing our hands, we are more conscious than ever of how our actions (and inactions) can affect others, just as Jonah (eventually) understood his obligation towards his shipmates, and changed the fate of an entire city.

On the Day of “At-one-ment” the Kohein Gadol emulates Jonah and his shipmates in praying for salvation. We don’t have to do it alone. As we navigate these stormy waters, our prayers unite with our shipmates of all colors, stripes, and beliefs as we assume responsibility for each other and our collective fate. May the Holy One seal us all in the Book of Life.

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To see the animated verbatim on which the above reflection is based, click here.

About the Author
A contrarian investor, career coach, and sought after speaker, Daniel Coleman has an MBA, several patents, and a unicycle. By day, he guides students and alumni of Yeshiva University in developing and executing strategies to further the impact they have on society and their financial freedom. You can follow him on LinkedIn.
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