Imagine waking up tomorrow morning to the breaking news that despite the 10-15 years it normally takes, we’ve been able to accelerate the research and testing for the COVID-19 vaccine, and it is now safe, effective, approved, and already widely available.
Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine, really imagine, how happy we will all be! Imagine the joy of being able to send our kids to school safely again. Think of the celebrations we’ll be able to attend! Weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, graduations … all the things we’ve missed these last few months. We could go shopping, fly, vacation—all the things we used to take for granted! We will all be ecstatic! The entire world will be filled with laughter and happiness!
But if we’re already dreaming, why not dream even bigger? We’ve eradicated COVID-19, why stop there? We still have cancer, heart disease, alzheimers, depression, anxiety, terrorism, anti-Semitism and enough other ailments to fill several volumes. So close your eyes again and this time imagine waking up to discover that the world has been cured from all diseases.
And while there are scientists working around the clock, exerting tremendous effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine, our sages teach that it’s up to each and every one of us to find the cure for all of the world’s diseases.
To that end, we can learn much from the race:
The first step towards finding any vaccine is research. Scientists need to understand as much as possible about the disease, how it works, and how the body’s immune system can be catalyzed to fight it.
The Talmud (Yoma 9b) teaches that baseless hatred is what caused us to be banished from the Beit Hamikdash, our home with G-d. G-d, like a father, abhors seeing His children in conflict. In fact, the Talmud goes so far as to equate baseless hatred with the three cardinal sins: idolatry, adultery, and murder. That’s how bad it is!
So how do we combat and cure baseless hatred? With unconditional love, of course! By resolving to remove the judgement and dislike that are so familiar and intrinsic to our thinking, and replacing them with acts of care, concern, and love—regardless of the person’s habits, opinions, or political learnings. This will bring the ultimate redemption and will rebuild the Holy Temple.
We now find ourselves at a time on the Jewish calendar known as the Three Weeks—the annual mourning period for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. What better time to work on rebuilding it?
Lest you think that your simple act of unconditional kindness won’t make a difference, think again. COVID-19 started spreading when a guy in Wuhan sneezed, and look how that has rippled and ballooned across the world. Your good deed can have the same effect!
So let’s stop limiting our imaginings to a cure for COVID-19, and start imagining a cure for the entire world. It is within our power!
Rabbi Uriel Vigler