In Parshat Vayikra, we read about the Korabanot, usually translated as sacrifices. However, the word korban actually comes from the root “karov” which means close. We bring the korban to get close to God.
The word karov in Hebrew also means family member (karov mishpacha).
Over the past few weeks, we have been told not to go near anybody as you don’t know who may be carrying the virus or who you can catch it from. You are only permitted to be near family members from your household and even then there are limitations.
That basically leaves us with getting close to God. Many people are having trouble with this concept as their image of prayer is limited to praying in a synagogue or with a minyan. They are trying desperately to grab on to whatever they can whether it is setting up backyard minyanim which could still be a problem of people standing too close together or not remaining close to home as per the new restrictions or arranging livestream minyanim over the internet.
I would like to suggest a different approach. Prayer which has replaced the Korbanot after the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) is meant to build our relationship with God and bring us nearer to Him. Private prayer which can be done anywhere is each individual’s opportunity to become closer to God.
This week, all houses of worship of all religions in Israel have closed their doors. This does not mean that we now stop praying. This means that we should use this time to pray for healing and anything else that we may want or need
This is our chance to build our private relationship with God without the distractions of the other synagogue members and friends.
May this difficult time quickly be put behind us and may we return to our synagogues as soon as it is safely possible to do so.