Uriel Vigler

It’s a War Zone!

Like millions of children across the world, mine started school this week. Finally, after almost half a year at home, the day we’ve all been waiting for arrived! I love Zoom, but we all know it’s just not the same as in-person communication.

My kids go to four different schools, and each has its own policy and plan to protect the children. Across the board, parents are super anxious. Some schools are requiring negative COVID tests before the children begin. Each day they’ll have their temperature taken; some schools even have thermal cameras that can check up to 100 kids’ temperatures at once!

There’s a full time nurse on site, high-tech filters to clean the air of micro-bacteria particles, and endless amounts of Purell and Lysol wipes. The kids have to wear masks in the hallways and anytime they’re not sitting at their desks. When seated, they are boxed in by plexiglass. Lunch is served individually in the classroom and there is no more group play at recess or in the gym. Some schools even have the children wearing monitors that will vibrate when coming within six feet of one another!

Clearly, we are going to great lengths to keep our children safe. It almost feels like a war – an endless battle against an invisible but potent enemy.

I found myself wondering… all of this is being done to ensure our children’s bodies are protected from physical disease, but what about spiritual protection? What are we doing to ensure the safety of their souls—something infinitely more important than their bodies?

Do you know how detrimental non-kosher food is to the souls of our innocent children? Forget about micro-bacteria! That pork will do far more damage than any coronavirus!

What can we do to ensure our children’s spiritual health, just as we have done to protect their physical health?

We can pray with them each morning. We can start their day by giving a few coins to charity.

We can be conscious of how much time we spend talking about the meaningless parts of life, and try to introduce more spiritual connectedness.

When our children learn Torah, they purify the surrounding air in such a powerful way. Let’s try to find time to learn Torah with them, even just for a couple of minutes, each day. Saying Shema together at night will add to their protection.

We’ve invested so much effort to protect them from a virus whose risk to children is so minimal; we should spend at least as much time ensuring their souls are protected.

So this Friday night, seated around your Shabbat dinner table, please don’t talk about COVID. Discuss the parshah and the upcoming High Holidays. With time, you will see how much better off your children (and even you yourselves!) are faring.

About the Author
Zimbabwean-born Rabbi Uriel Vigler has been directing the Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side of Manhattan together with his wife Shevy since 2005. In addition, he founded Belev Echad which helps wounded IDF soldiers. He has a weekly blog on current events. He is the proud father of eight children (including triplets) and leads a very young, vibrant and dynamic community.
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