This week, I googled, “When will the coronavirus end?” and received no fewer than 5.2 billion results! My next question, “When is the coronavirus vaccine coming out?” narrowed it down to a mere 1.7 billion.
Considering every conversation we have these days is about our fears and concerns over the great unknown… it’s hardly surprising that we’re all fruitlessly Googling the same questions.
This week I found myself preparing our annual calendar, as I do every summer. Only this year, I don’t know where to start. When should we schedule our annual gala? Will we even be able to have a gala? What kind of Simchat Torah should we prepare for? Will we be able to have our usual High Holiday services? Which Friday nights will we be able to host community meals? What theme should our Purim party be? Each year we plan these events meticulously and mail out a schedule in September so people have ample time to prepare and save the dates. But this time, I found myself putting down, “I don’t know!” “I have no clue” and “no idea!” Question mark after question mark after question mark…
It was one thing when the end of the year was in sight; not knowing from March till June was manageable, but now as we head into a new year, the not knowing feels insurmountable.
One of the things we cherish most is control. Even those who aren’t usually Type A personalities are realizing just how much we are used to feeling in control. We feel at ease when we have plans. Having a vacation on the calendar makes it easier to get through the stressful winter. Knowing our job is stable, knowing which schools our kids will be attending at each stage, and what kind of party we’ll be making for their bar and bat mitzvahs in three years time gives us the sense of stability we all crave, whether we realize it or not.
But at this point it’s been nearly four months since we had any clue what to expect, or any possibility of planning for the near or distant future, and we’re feeling the effects.
So when will the coronavirus end? Whenever you decide! It’s that simple. You can end it right now if you want.
You see, what we don’t realize is that we were never actually in control. Even when we feel like we are, it’s just an illusion. The only one running the world is G-d, so breathe deeply, meditate, contemplate His existence, place your trust in Him and let Him lead. You’ll be astounded by how quickly your fears and anxieties are allayed!
I can assure you that the worldwide coronavirus will only end when the One Who is truly in control chooses, in His infinite wisdom, to end it. But we can end it right now for ourselves by placing our full trust in Him.
This week we marked the 26th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. One of the things the Rebbe emphasized again and again, in all his talks, letters, and private audiences, is the importance of placing our trust in G-d and thinking positively. When we think optimistically, we can actually generate the positive outcome we’re hoping for.
As I write this article, the news headlines read, “US sees single day record of coronavirus cases, suggesting the sacrifices made by millions of Americans were in vain,” “COVID-19 outbreaks are popping out across American farms,” “United States of Infected,” “World Putting America in Quarantine,” and “Houston Facing Apocalyptic July 4th.”
As Shabbat begins this evening, I look forward to turning off my phone for 25 hours and disconnecting from the onslaught of anxiety-inducing media. But we don’t have to wait for Shabbat. We can shut out the noise and the headlines every day, by placing our trust in the One Above. Let yourself have that experience, this week and beyond.
Rabbi Uriel Vigler